With two days off following Saturday's gruesome loss to the New Jersey Nets, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers had some extra time to get creative and one of his tasks involved figuring out a way to make Nate Robinson feel more comfortable in a new environment.
With Robinson still in the process of learning Boston's expansive playbook, Rivers turned the student into the teacher. During Monday's practice, Robinson taught his 11 new teammates an offensive set he previously ran with the New York Knicks.
Boston utilized that set Tuesday night and Robinson looked far more comfortable than he had in three previous games with the Green. He came off the bench to score 14 points, highlighted by a trio of fourth-quarter 3-pointers that lifted the Celtics to a 105-100 triumph over the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
"It's funny, that's what happens when you have too much time off," joked Rivers. "I was thinking, 'I've got to find a way to get Nate more comfortable quicker.' My thought was that if we give him one of his plays, the other four [teammates on the court] won't be comfortable, but he will be. It's a movement set and we ran it pretty well. Nate was on fire and he was aggressive."
When Robinson checked in with 39 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Detroit had just taken the lead. The Pistons were up four early in the fourth quarter when No. 4 helped Boston regain control.
Robinson connected on a troika of 3-pointers over a four-minute span to trigger a 13-2 run by the Boston bench that put the Celtics out front 89-81 with little more than seven minutes to play.
On a night when Boston starters again looked dreadful, Robinson and the bench provided a much-needed spark. The reserves combined for 39 points and built a big enough lead in the final quarter that even the starters couldn't give it away (try as they might, as the Pistons rallied to make it a one-possession game in the final moments).
"We knew we had to get [Robinson] comfortable quickly, so we put in one of [the Knicks'] plays," said Rivers. "That's basically what we ran -- we ran that Knicks play pretty much the entire fourth quarter... For the first time since he's been with us, I thought he looked really comfortable out there."
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