Glen Davis Is Outgrowing His Baby Shoes

M. EccherCorrespondent IApril 30, 2009

CHICAGO - APRIL 26: Glen Davis #11 of the Boston Celtics grabs a rebound against Joakim Noah #13 of the Chicago Bulls in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on April 26, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Celtics 121-118 in double overtime. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agreees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

You'd think it would be a little harder to lose track of Glen Davis.

At 6'9" and a rather conservative 289 pounds, Boston's second-year power forward is the biggest mountain east of the Appalachians. He eyes Ben Gordon as if the diminuitive Chicago sharpshooter were a snack waiting to happen. He's practically visible from space.

Read up on the Bulls-Celtics series, though, and Davis seems to vanish into thin air. He slinks out of sight behind the glowing accounts of Rajon Rondo's coming-out party. He disappears from the conversation amid praise for Paul Pierce's gamesmanship. He goes from the Incredible Hulk to the Invisible Man.

Ian Thomsen of SI.com mentioned Davis in his Game Five analysis only as a member of Pierce's unlikely supporting cast. Chris Mannix didn't drop his name at all.

Even ESPN's Bill Simmons, who lives and breathes the C's like few others, has penned only a single Davis reference in a pair of columns on the series, when he described the drop-off from Kevin Garnett to Davis at power forward as "a freefall off a cliff."

It's a testament to the wealth of storylines this series has provided (or a harsh indictment of the marketing power of the moniker "Big Baby") that a breakout as stunning as Davis' has been all but ignored.

We're talking about a player whose most noted NBA accomplishment coming into these playoffs was a Garnett-induced bout of sobbing on the bench in December. This is a guy who put up seven points, four boards, and a handful of zero-point-somethings in a night in the regular season.

But make no mistake: Very quietly, Davis is killing the Bulls.

The numbers tell part of the story. In Garnett's absence, Davis has morphed into the stealthiest stat-stuffer you've ever seen, throwing up 17.8 points, 7.6 boards, 2.8 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks per game in the playoffs.

He's spending nearly twice as much time on the floor in the postseason (41 minutes per game) as he did in the regular season (21 MPG). He's staying out of foul trouble, drawing about one whistle every ten minutes, and taking advantage when the calls come his way, hitting 21 of 26 free throws (81 percent) in the series.

Davis has excelled against Chicago by playing within himself. He doesn't have the wingspan or mobility to duplicate Garnett's role on defense, but uses his considerable frame to clog the lane quite nicely.

He doesn't have the all-around offensive game to put the ball on the floor himself, but has been downright lethal shooting spot-up jumpers from midrange.

Basketball pundits haven't been the only ones to overlook Davis' effectiveness. Five games into the first round, the Bulls are still daring him to beat them from the top of the key. He's been happy to oblige.

The Bulls don't know where he picked up that shot. The C's probably don't, either. I'd be surprised if Davis himself knows. But those 18-footers are falling like they're Big Baby's calling.

Forget about Ray Allen—Davis' shooting touch has been the x-factor in this series. In Boston's three wins, he's firing at 54.5 percent from the floor. In the Celtics' two losses, he's shooting 32.3 percent.

Everyone's wondering how much money Gordon, who's contract is up this year, has earned with his monster series.

How about the payday coming to Davis, who signed only a two-year deal as a rookie and hits the market this summer as a restricted free agent? After all, shoot-first tweener guards a dime a dozen; skilled bigs with range are a rare find.

Still not sold on Davis? You're not alone.

But have a look at Game Six tonight. If you watch very carefully, you just might see him muscling Boston into the second round.

CORRECTION: This story originally identified Davis as an upcoming unrestricted free agent. While his contract does not carry a player or team option for next season, he will be a restricted free agent this summer because he has been in the league for fewer than four seasons. More information on restricted free agency is available here.


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