BOSTON (CBS) – Brandon Bass was hot in Game 4 against the Philadelphia 76ers, but he sat on the bench as the Celtics blew their double-digit lead and saw the series fall into a 2-2 tie.
That wouldn’t be the case in Monday night’s Game 5.
Bass exploded, again, for 18 of his playoff career-high 27 points in the third quarter Monday night, two more points than the 76ers has total that frame.
“It was just me taking advantage of my opportunity,” Bass said after the 101-85 win. “They had been doubling Paul, and we have a few good players on our team that they had to focus on. That left me open, and I was able to take advantage of my opportunity.”
For Bass, it was years of hard work paying off. On his fifth team in seven NBA seasons, Bass put toghether the best playoff performance on his career. This came after he struggled early this postseason, shooting just 41-percent and averaging nine points per game in the Celtics first-round series against the Hawks.
Against Philadelphia, he has scored double digits in each of the first five games, averaging 15 points per game, hitting 51-percent of his shots.
“With me, more than anything, it’s hard work. After missing some shots in the games, I reverted back to what got me here; spending time in the gym putting up shots,” he said. “But it’s a big tribute to my teammates. My teammates were able to find me and I’m just glad to be part of the team.”
Bass finished Game 5 nine-for-13 from the floor and nine-for-10 at the free throw line. In his monster third quarter, he hit three of his patented 15-foot jumpers, threw down three dunks, and hit the free throw line six times.
“Brandon stayed aggressive and took the shots that were there,” forward Paul Pierce said after the win. “He was aggressive at mixing it up; going to the hole, finishing, taking the mid-range shot. That’s what we needed. On different nights we need different nights to step up.”
“I think to be a great playoff player at some point you’ve just got to let yourself go to the team and just play,” head coach Doc Rivers said of Bass. “Everything else will take care of itself.
“He played free tonight. Now we have to keep him there,” added Doc.
Bass played 37 minutes Monday night, up from the 22 minutes he saw in Friday night’s loss. In that game, he sat and watched the fourth quarter from the bench, as the C’s let their lead slip away. After Monday night’s win, Bass said he wasn’t frustrated at being relegated to the pine, but instead used it to stay ready when he did get the call.
“To be honest, I wasn’t really frustrated. I trust Doc and his coaching ability. For me, I just stay ready and on nights like tonight, I was able to help us,” he said.
Because of his big performance, Bass found himself at the NBA podium after the game for the first time in his career.
“This is the first time for a lot of things for me. And I’m grateful,” he said while soaking it all in. “I haven’t really thought too much about it, but for me it’s hard work. My motto is God, grind and greatness. Grinding is what got me to this point, and that’s what I’m going to continue to do.”