Blakely: Signs point to Bass starting vs. Heat

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Blakely: Signs point to Bass starting vs. Heat

Brandon Bass has been a fairly quiet, keep-to-himself kind of player since joining the Celtics last season.

That low-key demeanor has been steady as ever during training camp, one in which Bass finds himself trying to fend off rookie Jared Sullinger for the starting power forward job.

"Man, I'm not going to get into all that stuff about starting, not starting," Bass told CSNNE.com. "That's Doc's call. What he says, that's how it goes."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers has not revealed who will be in his starting lineup, but it appears as though it will be Bass on opening night next week at Miami.

Rivers has said his starting lineup will likely fluctuate depending on the foe and the type of player opponents choose to start.

Miami has been doing some lineup tinkering of its own in the preseason, with reigning league MVP LeBron James playing a hybrid point guardpower forward position.

As good as Sullinger has been in the preseason, seeing him matched up with James to start his NBA career might be classified as cruel and unusual punishment.

In addition, Bass did arguably as good a job as any of his Boston teammates in defending James during their matchup in the Eastern Conference finals last season.

Boston lost 101-88 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals with James scoring a game-high 31 points on 9-for 21 shooting with an efficiency rating of 27 according to hoopstats.com.

Meanwhile, Bass had 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting with an efficiency rating of 22 which for that game was second among Celtics to Rajon Rondo (31).

But there are other intangibles that come about in having Bass with the first group.

With so many new faces, having some semblance of continuity within the first group should help immensely.

Turnovers are usually higher than normal in the first game of the season. Having a starting lineup with just one new face (Courtney Lee) instead of two should help keep that number down some.

And then there is the experience factor, an edge that seems most beneficial against elite teams like the NBA champion Heat.

But for all the considerations that are weighed in who will start, maybe the most compelling argument comes down to trust.

Sullinger has gained the trust of his veteran teammates based in large part on his basketball smarts and his potential.

That's a good thing no matter how you look at it.

Still, no matter how confident these veterans are in Sullinger, they have no idea how he will perform in games that count - games like the season opener at Miami on Oct. 30.

They do with Bass.

With Bass, that trust is based on his production and the bonds that were cemented last season.

And while there is no way to predict if he will put up big numbers or make a huge impact in big games this season, his teammates know he'll come ready to compete.

"Around here, you have to always stay ready," Bass said. "That's how it is when you're playing for a team like this, a team that's all about one thing . . . winning a championship."

Bass' commitment to that is obvious not only in the way he plays, but also in his preparation.

Although it was barely talked about last season, Bass would often show up to games as early - sometimes even earlier - as Ray Allen who is often praised for his tireless work ethic and diligent pre-game routine.

"All I'm trying to do is keep getting better and help this team win, man," Bass said. "That's it. That's where my focus is right now; trying to get better."

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics surge at end of second quarter

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics surge at end of second quarter

BOSTON –  For the second time in as many games, the Boston Celtics were hosting a team eager to get off a losing skid.

But a strong surge near the end of the second quarter gave the Celtics a 65-56 halftime lead over Portland which came into the night having lost four straight.

Boston opened with a 12-4 run capped off by a 3-pointer by Jae Crowder – his second within the game’s first couple minutes.

But the Blazers were being carried by C.J. McCollum, half of the most explosive backcourt in the NBA. His 12 first-quarter points were crucial to keeping the Blazers within 28-26 at the end of the quarter.

McCollum continued to out-perform everyone else on the floor, even Isaiah Thomas who had a quieter than usual first half.

But the 5-foot-9 Thomas continued to make all the plays needed to put the Celtics back on top courtesy of a 12-3 run that put them ahead 57-49 with 1:55 to play in the half.

From there, Boston was able to maintain control of the game.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Saturday’s game.

 

STARS

C.J. McCollum

While there’s still talk about whether Damian Lillard will be an All-Star this year, McCollum has played well enough to where he’s at least worthy of a mention in the All-Star conversation. He certainly carried Portland in the first half with 26 points on 8-for-12 shooting.

Isaiah Thomas

As usual, Thomas drew a considerable amount of attention from the opposing defense. And slowly but surely, he found cracks that he could exploit. At the half, he had 17 points, four assists and three rebounds, one of which was an offensive board that he put-back in for a lay-up.

 

STUDS

Jae Crowder

He put the Celtics on a good path from the outset, knocking down a couple 3’s in the first couple of minutes. He finished the half with 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting which included a trio of 3-pointers.

Meyers Leonard

He was 3-for-4 in the first half which included a pair of powerful dunks over Boston’s Jordan Mickey. At the half he had eight points and two rebounds.

 

DUDS

Damian Lillard

It was a rough half for the two-time All-Star, tallying just three points on 1-for-5 shooting. A big part of his problem? Foul trouble. He played just 10 minutes in the first half due in large part to having three personal fouls.