Bass' defense on 'Melo helps C's avoid sweep

Bass' defense on 'Melo helps C's avoid sweep
April 28, 2013, 7:00 pm
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BOSTON -- As the Celtics went about preparing for Game 4, the video didn't lie.

Nobody on their team seemed to have much success defending Carmelo Anthony except Brandon Bass.

Yes, the same Brandon Bass that not that long ago was considered a defensive liability and whose greatest contributions to the C's was his pick-and-pop jumper.

Still in defending Anthony, Bass has shown a side of him that has been blossoming all the way back to last season when he was assigned to defend Miami's LeBron James for a few possessions and actually did a surprisingly decent job.

Bass found that role reprised for him Sunday, and he delivered a defensive gem of a game in helping the Celtics defeat New York 97-90 in overtime.

Boston trails the best-of-seven series 3-1, with Game 4 in New York on Wednesday.

As much as Jason Terry will be praised for his 18 points (nine coming in overtime) and Kevin Garnett will get props for his work inside (13 points, 17 rebounds), it was Bass' defense on Anthony that might have been the most important development in Game 4.

"He was the star of the game as far as I'm concerned," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "He just defended, and did it over and over and over again."

And while the game plan leading up to Game 4 was to give Anthony a healthy dose of different defenders, Rivers said the game plan coming into Game 4 was to have Bass on him for as much as the C's could.

It worked as Anthony had a game-high 36 points but did so on 10-for-35 shooting which was easily his worst shooting game in this series.

One's mentality as much as being able to move in step with Anthony, was the key to Bass' strong game defensively.

"I just wanted to take the challenge," Bass told CSNNE.com. "That's the biggest thing."

Said Rivers: "There's a lot of guys that you want to defend; I don't know if Carmelo would be the one you would pick. And for Brandon to do that, basically the entire game until he fouled out was terrific for us. We needed that one guy to be able to do that."

But as Bass will tell you, dealing with Anthony is the kind of challenge that forces you to be locked in mentally every second on the court because Anthony is always in shot-taking mode.

"This guy is aggressive all the time," said Bass who also chipped in four points and four rebounds. "He's trying to score when he's sitting on the bench, man."

That is where Bass found himself after picking up his fifth foul with 5:10 to play in the third quarter.

Bass didn't return until the 9:53 mark of the fourth quarter and the C's lead had been trimmed to 69-67.

Knowing he was in foul trouble, Bass couldn't defend Anthony with the same level of aggression he had in the first three quarters, and Anthony made him and the Celtics play with a couple of drives towards the basket for scores.

Bass eventually fouled out with 4:27 to play in the fourth and Boston clinging to an 80-76 lead.

And while Bass wasn't on the floor when the final horn sounded, there was no mistaking that this Celtics victory would not have come about if not for Bass' play defensively.

"We won the game because of Brandon," said Celtics guard Avery Bradley. "All credit to Brandon. He played great defense."

But don't think for a minute that Bass' success defensively against Anthony will go to his head.

He knows Anthony will come out and be even more aggressive in Game 5 on Wednesday.

And while there were specific scheme changes that the Celtics employed to limit Anthony or at least make it tougher for him to score, Bass was keeping that to himself.

"We have to keep doing what we're doing," Bass said. "And just see what happens. That's all; just keeping doing what we did today."