With Kendrick Perkins long gone and a void left in the "straight-shooting young star" role on the Celtics' roster, Glen Davis has stepped up.
Davis fired the first trash-talking bullet at the Miami Heat at Wednesday's practice, taking a shot at Erik Spoelstra's bench before the Heat were even officially locked into their second-round series with the Celtics. What he didn't know was how the Heat would respond.
"I feel like our bench is way stronger than theirs," Davis said Wednesday. "We're way deeper than them."
Then Big Baby went home and watched on TV as the Heat beat the Sixers to finish off the first round. As for that bench? They got 20 points from Mario Chalmers, three big 3s from James Jones and a pair of clutch free throws from Joel Anthony late to seal the deal.
But just don't try blaming Davis for his bulletin board material.
"You can use anything you want for bulletin board material," he said Thursday. "I just feel like when we play the way we're supposed to play, our bench is the best in the league. Especially with the guys we have that were starters in other places — Delonte [West], Nenad [Krstic] coming off, and hopefully we get [Shaquille O'Neal]. It's tough to beat us. We've just go to play the right way, and if we do that, it'll be tough to beat us."
You can understand Davis' confidence. He dropped a playoff-high 14 points against the Knicks in Game 4 to help finish the sweep. Krstic added two blocks. The bench totaled 22 rebounds, including seven from Jeff Green.
"We all feel better," Davis said of the bench unit's morale after that performance. "Sometimes it's a slow grind like that, but you know, the team won, and it's on to the second round. It's a new beginning."
While Davis gloats, the rest of the Celtics are trying to downplay the feud of "bench versus bench" between the C's and Heat. Coach Doc Rivers, who's been cleaning up Big Baby's messes for years, was quick to show the Heat some respect Thursday.
"They have three pretty good guys that are going to play 40 minutes," Rivers said. "So I don't think anyone has that big of a bench problem in the playoffs, honestly. They have enough guys, and they'll move them around. They did that even [Wednesday night] — they changed their rotations in the middle of a game. They have enough veterans that they can do that.
"It's important," Rivers said of the bench play. "But at the end of the day, it's the starters. If your starters are playing well, you have a very good chance of winning playoff games."