So badly, in fact, that when the game got close in the fourth quarter and head coach Doc Rivers needed a big performance from him in crunch time, Big Baby drooled at the chance to finish the Lakers off.
No, really. He literally salivated.
With 8:22 left in the fourth quarter, Tony Allen missed a running jumper in transition, and Davis came tailing behind him, grabbing the offensive rebound and dropping it back in with a flourish. It was his third bucket of the quarter, and through sheer, visible determination, he had carried the Celtics to their first six-point lead of the night, 70-64.
His determination was dripping out of the bottom-right corner of his mouth.
"Let me tell you something right quick," said Davis, responding to the allegations of public drooling. "When you're in the moment, you're in the moment. If I slobber, snot, spit, please excuse me. Kids, don't do that. Have manners and things like that."
For Davis, it was a moment of pure joy, exhilaration and pride that he was out there playing crunch-time minutes for the Celtics in the biggest game of their season. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, two future Hall of Famers, were sitting on the bench watching, and Big Baby was making a big contribution. That saliva represented three years of hard work paying off.
Biologically speaking, human saliva is made up of "98 percent water, while the other 2 percent consists of other compounds such as electrolytes, mucus, antibacterial compounds and various enzymes."
Coming from Big Baby, though, it was 100 percent childlike jubilation.
"That's who he is," Rivers said. "He has a lot of passion. I mean, there's times you love him and times he drives you nuts. But overall, his heart is always in the right place, and you just take it."
Davis was a one-man wrecking crew in the fourth quarter, tearing through the Lakers' front line and dominating the game with his low-post scoring. For all the talk in this series about the play of Garnett, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum in the middle, Davis was the star that outshined them all in Game 4.
He scored 18 points, nine of them in the fourth quarter. He shot 7-of-10 from the field. He led the Celtics in offensive rebounds with four. Davis said it best: He was "a beast."
"I just felt like a beast," Davis said. "Really, I'm going to just be honest with you. I just felt like I couldn't be denied. If a rebound was in my vicinity or if the ball was going to be laid up, you know, I just felt like I just couldn't be denied.
"It kind of started off with me missing two shots, a layup and then a jump shot. I was really upset at myself, and I said, 'I've got to seize the moment here.' There's not too many times you get a chance to be in the Finals and be a part of something so great."
He wasn't a very big part two years ago. He was the 11th man on Rivers' bench in the 2008 postseason, coming off the pine as a rookie in the Finals only in Game 6, when the game was virtually over. Last year, with Garnett out due to injury, he stepped up in a big way. This time, he's making the most of his time on the game's biggest stage.
"Baby is a much more confident player now," Pierce said. "You saw what he did last year in the playoffs. He came into his own when Kevin was hurt, had big games versus Orlando and Chicago, and he's going to be big. Our whole bench is going to be big. Just a couple years ago, the first championship we won, Baby wasn't even in the rotation. So to be here in this spotlight, to come in with a big game like that, is huge for him. And we're going to need it."
Davis has become a big part of the Celtics' postseason run and a big reason they're now tied 2-2 in the Finals and vying for another championship. It's a championship he wants more than anything, and he's drooling at the opportunity to win it.
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