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."

Highlights: Devin Booker puts up 70 points but Celtics get the win

Highlights: Devin Booker puts up 70 points but Celtics get the win

Highlights from the TD Garden as Devin Booker had a historic performance where he scored 70 points, but it wasn't enough to get the win over the Celtics.

Thomas on Suns: 'We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery'

Thomas on Suns: 'We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery'

BOSTON – Stacking wins on top of wins is the mindset of the Boston Celtics right now, so the players who did speak to the media following Friday’s 130-120 win over Phoenix drove that point home emphatically.

But inside the locker room, it was unusually quiet, the kind of silence you expect following a loss.

Considering how the Celtics’ defense was absolutely thrashed by Devin Booker’s franchise record 70 points, there’s no question at a minimum the Celtics’ pride overall was stung.

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And when Suns coach Earl Watson began calling time-outs and having his team commit fouls at the end of the game, there’s no question it rubbed a few Celtics the wrong way.

“I don’t think anybody has ever seen that; continuing to call time-outs, continuing to foul when we are up 15. But I mean, it was obvious what they were trying to do. They were trying to get him (Booker) the most points possible. Hat off to to him (Booker). He played a hell of a game.”

Following the game, Watson defended his late-game decision making.

“Calling time-outs at the end kept the game close,” he said. “It’s basketball; I’m not coming to any arena to be liked. If people don’t like us while we build … so what? Do something about it.”

The Suns (22-51) never came any closer than 10 points, which was the final score margin.

Al Horford acknowledged that there was some aggravation following the game.

“You can be frustrated when somebody is doing that to you,” he said. “It’s not to one guy, it’s to the team so I think we’re probably more aggravated at ourselves, at least personally I feel that way. I probably could have done a little better, maybe done some different things to prevent it. We got to give him credit, 70 points, I don’t care it’s 70, he got 70. It’s impressive.”

But there will be some inside the Celtics locker room and among their fan base, who were bothered by the Suns’ late-game actions which seemed more focused on Booker getting numbers than anything else.

When asked about being disrespected by the Suns’ late-game strategy, Thomas wanted no part of that conversation.

“It is what it is,” Thomas said. “We won the game. We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery.”

 Boom!