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Brandon Bass is struggling with his shot.Having lost the opening two games of their current three-game road trip, the Celtics have admittedly taken a step back, after a week of promise and suggestions of better habits had everyone thinking the ship was starting to right itself.
Part of the reason why Boston has stumbled so often this season is because it hasn't been able to get consistent performances out of its key role players on a nightly basis. Though the likes of Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, and Kevin Garnett have been doing their part more often than not, the support hasn't consistently been behind them.
While Jeff Green, Jason Terry, and Courtney Lee have all drawn criticism at times this season for inconsistent play, Brandon Bass is another player the Celtics simply haven't been getting enough from lately.
In Boston's last two games, especially, Bass failed to make any sort of legitimate impact. In Friday's loss to Houston, he scored just two points on 1-of-3 shooting to go along with four rebounds, and followed that up on Saturday with another two-point effort on 1-of-5 shooting. He hauled in just three rebounds in the loss to San Antonio.
Those very low numbers have cast a more potent glow on the regression of Bass' impact, but, particularly from a scoring standpoint, he's been having difficulty throughout the month of December. After averaging 9.5 points for the month of November, Bass has seen that figure drop to 5.9 points this month. Though he's actually seen an uptake in his overall field goal percentage, a more glaring stat has been his free throw percentage, which stood at an outstanding 90 percent for November, but has since plummeted to 62.5 percent throughout December. In seven games this month, Bass has taken a total of just eight free throws.
The lack of whistles in Saturday's loss to the Spurs has been well-documented, but Bass' inability to get to the line speaks to a lack of aggressiveness on some level, though it might not be as concerning as someone like Pierce posting similar numbers, given Bass' propensity for positioning himself for elbow and other mid-range jump shots more often than not. The more alarming figure might his number of shots per game. While he averaged 8.8 looks at the basket during November, that figure, similar to his points and free throw percentage, has dropped this month, down to just 5.6 per game.
The shooting numbers, overall, suggest Bass playing more timid of late. While there could be multiple reasons for Bass' woes -- a common shooting slump, for example -- what might be more problematic is him joining the Celtics' key support players in not appearing comfortable in Boston's offensive system. It's not necessarily a matter of Bass not filling his role -- his standard rebounding numbers are better this month than they were in November -- but more him not executing it as well as he could be, and has, at other times this season.
On the offensive end, Bass has always been at his best when he's not thinking about shooting and the shots he's taking. Last season, as soon as Bass found himself in his comfort zone, he took the shot. This season, there's been more hesitancy, more uncertainty, and that's become more evident over the last handful of games, even in wins, like last Wednesday's double-overtime victory over the Mavericks.
What's becoming more and more evident as the season goes on, is that key role players like Green and Bass have struggled the most when they haven't been aggressive on their own. Green's recent string of increased production has hinged on him playing to his strengths of attacking the basket, for example. As Bass looks to get his offensive game back on track, he'll have to get back to what has worked for him before as well, and that starts with shedding the hesitancy that has bogged him down in recent games.