“He was terrific,” said Rivers. “He gave us a great lift, played with great energy. He made shots, but the offensive part, to me, came from doing his job, really. I told him that. I thought he was really focused on setting picks and rebounding and doing all the little things.
“It’s funny, we just talked about this as a group and I said, ‘Guys who do that, it’s amazing how you get rewarded somehow.’ And that’s what happened, to me. He kept setting picks on Ray (Allen). And listen, JO’s no dummy. If you set a pick on Ray, everyone’s jumping to Ray and he kept slipping it. He sought it early in the game, and that’s brilliant. He did his job by getting Ray open and he benefited from it, and we benefited from it.”
I have to admit that my patience has run lower and run out more quickly than it has in the past. Maybe if Jermaine O'Neal had sucked his first three games out of the gate in October/November, I would have been more lenient. Maybe because 2012 begins tomorrow, I'm instinctively more impatient.
The simple fact is that Jermaine O'Nea will have more of both kinds of performance this season. He WILL disappear again and he WILL have another near, or actual, double-double. He's going to have an up and down season that will be affected by things like the quality of the opponent, health, and foul trouble.
The thing about O'Neal is, as the Doc quote hints, is he's good enough to take advantage of those mismatches that he does have. And facing a team that isn't good enough to defend the pick and roll means he can dive to the basket and benefit from overzealous D on Ray.
The key is for Doc to know which Jermaine we're getting and adjust.
On Page 2: Pierce's impact on the D
"Paul's very good at luring you into making a move you don't want to make," Detroit veteran Tayshaun Prince said. "We play together sometimes in the summer, so he knows my tendencies. He knows what I want to do and how to take it away.
"So now Paul is on you trying to make you uncomfortable, and you've got [Kevin Garnett] behind him saying, 'I've got your back, Paul. Bring him this way.' That means you've got one defender on you and another back there just waiting to mess you up."
Just like I wrote a couple of days ago, Pierce's steady hand on offense also applies to the defense. It just helps to have a guy of his caliber out there playing basketball on both ends of the court. But Pierce always has been and, I guess, always will be, an underrated defender. Maybe he was a little less interested in it in the past, but he's going to get the job done.
People don't realize that Pierce (a) has really wide shoulders and (b) is pretty strong. He just makes it a little harder to get around him and he can force guys, like Prince said, into moves they don't want to make.
Welcome back Paul Pierce. His presence alone will help change some of the things that have gone wrong around here.
The rest of the links:
CSNNE: Pierce returns, O'Neal paces Celtics | History shows C's start not that shocking | ESPN Boston: C's get defensive for a change | Rapid reaction | Pietrus targets debut in 2 weeks | WEEI: Pierce returns, so does winning in Boston | Celtics speak familiar language of success | Herald: Doc talk turns Frank | Pietrus arrives with plenty of smiles | Globe: Celtics get first win | Ainge won't panic