Entering Wednesday's game in Philadelphia, Bass had seen his playing time essentially halved since his first season in Boston. Despite starting 87 percent of the team's games over the last two seasons, Bass is now a part-time player, averaging 18.1 minutes per game.
Ever the consummate pro, Bass has taken the diminished role in stride. He still brings his hard hat and lunchpail to work. His numbers haven't been great early in the 2014-15 season -- Boston's offensive and defensive ratings have been far better with him on the bench -- but Bass had a hot hand Wednesday night and helped rescue his team from what could have been a head-shaking loss.
Bass checked in late in the first quarter with the 76ers up 8. He scored three baskets in the final two minutes of the frame, including a strong dunk off a pretty interior feed from Jared Sullinger, and his offensive output prevented the game from slipping away.
Bass finished with a season-high 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting with six rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block over 32 minutes. He was a team-best plus-19 in plus/minus. Coach Brad Stevens rode Bass for a 13-minute first-half stretch that was vital to jolting a Celtics team that finally woke up in the third quarter.
"I thought Brandon was our most physical interior player in first half," Stevens said. "I thought that was a big difference. We were lucky to be tied at halftime, then I thought everyone matched [Bass' energy] in the second half. ... Brandon Bass kind of led the charge tonight."
Bass' role moving forward is likely to be dictated in large part by how the younger players in front of him -- Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, in particular -- are performing. It's up to Bass to maximize his minutes and force Stevens to keep him on the floor.
Bass, 29, is in the final year of a contract paying him $6.9 million. He's the sort of decent-priced versatile veteran that could help a contending team, and Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge ought to keep a copy of Wednesday's game handy in case the phone rings.
C'S KNEW DANGER OF SIXERS
Having lost three of four games to Philadelphia last season, the Celtics knew full well the dangers of looking past the winless 76ers.
"I'm lucky to have been basically raised in coaching from the standpoint that every win is a difficult thing to do," Stevens said. "I think it’s the way we approach it, it's the way our players approach it. You only get 82 chances to play. This team beat us last year three times, so there was no reason [to look past Philadelphia]. We don't look at winless, we look at a team that beat us three times."
The Sixers fell to 0-11 with Wednesday's loss. Philadelphia plays six of its next seven games at home, but that includes visits from Phoenix, Portland, Brooklyn, Dallas and San Antonio. Their best chance at a win in November might be Saturday's visit to the New York Knicks.
STICKING WITH HIS LINEUP
Stevens noted in recent days that he's pondered lineup changes, but didn't believe Boston's struggles could be traced to one player or one rotation change. Stevens stuck with second-year center Olynyk in the starting lineup, even after he had one of his roughest outings of the season in Monday's loss to the Phoenix Suns.
Olynyk bounced back to contribute nine points, four assists, three rebounds and a steal over 25 minutes in Wednesday's win. Olynyk was aggressive toward the basket, with three of his four field goals coming near the rim.
"You talk to him about why it was a tough game. And then I think it’s more about, ‘Play the next one well.’ Get back up off the mat," Stevens said when asked if he'd talked to Olynyk following Monday's game. "Nobody, through our first nine games, hasn’t had one tough one, right? We’ve just got to make sure that we respond well and go from there. It’s a lot more about being there and encouraging, but also not avoiding the reality of why it was a tough game."