Today's the day. Third-year forward Glen Davis, out for five weeks with a broken thumb sustained in an altercation with a friend back in October, plans to have his cast removed Wednesday. With it, off will come the shackles that have held the Celtics back from being the class of the NBA.
We easily forget it now, what with Rasheed Wallace chucking up jumpers, Shelden Williams crashing the boards like a machine and the Celtics' starters pushed to the limit with extra minutes on the floor. But through it all, Davis remains as big a part of the Celtics bench as anyone. His return this month should remind us all once again that he's the real deal.
Last year, he was one of the most improved Celtics, if not the most. During the Celtics' title run in 2008, Davis was a raw, undeveloped talent, a 22-year-old kid out of LSU. He was the ninth man off the Boston bench, a backup for James Posey, who was himself a jack-of-all-trades backup. But Davis showed promise.
It wasn't until the end of the 2008-09 season that that promise came to fruition. You could see the real, tangible improvements in Davis' game — they had a big effect on the Celtics down the stretch. He developed a jump shot and evolved into a scorer who could make things happen both in the low post and elsewhere. He became a monster on the offensive boards, keeping possessions alive with his keen instincts and aggressive impulses. He learned the ways of NBA officials, becoming efficient at both avoiding foul trouble and drawing contact from opposing players.
He became the complete forward. He's now almost 24, and we're about to see him move into his prime.
We were ready to see it, in fact, at the start of this season. And it's disappointing that the Celtics forward let a personal tiff with a friend put a five-week dent in the Celtics' season. But if anything, Davis has grown from his experience. And you listen to the way he talks about it — from off the court, in street clothes, wishing he were out there — and you can tell he's ready to make it up to everyone. He wants to make his coaches, his teammates and his fans forget he was ever gone.
"It's just been so hard, watching us lose those games," Davis told USA Today last week. "Every game we've lost, I feel like it's my fault. I just want to get back and be a factor and help the team."
Davis can help. He can come in and immediately have an impact on these Celtics. By taking some minutes away from Rasheed Wallace, he can ease the pressure on Sheed to be a dominating bench scorer, thereby doing his part to lift him out of the shooting slump he suffered through in November. By giving some rest to Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, Davis can help the starting five conserve its energy for the stretch run and for the playoffs.
By being a complete, unselfish, mature team player, Davis can help the Celtics reach their full potential.
We're about to see the fully evolved Glen Davis. And with him, we'll see the fully loaded Celtics. We should have seen them five weeks ago, but better late than never.