Leandro Barbosa: Helping this Celtics team ‘all that matters to me’
|11.15.12 at 10:50 am ET|
The marriage of Leandro Barbosa and the Celtics seems to be a perfect one.
Once again Wednesday night, Barbosa was just what Boston needed to overcome the loss of Rajon Rondo to a sprained right ankle.
“Just play the game, go with the flow,” Barbosa said of his mission after scoring 16 points in 23 minutes of a 98-93 win over the Jazz. “Bring a lot of energy. Make sure that I give [guys rest], especially Paul [Pierce] and [Kevin Garnett]. We are in the flow, now three games, and I just want to keep it going.”
Barbosa was signed on Oct. 18, not exactly sure how much time he would get on the floor. But the 29-year-old said he was a very happy to get another chance in the NBA after stints with the Suns, Raptors and Pacers.
“First of all, I’m happy to be here. Boston Celtics is a great team,” he said. “Great guys, great organization. I’m very happy to be here. When I got the call, it was a great surprise for me. Now that I’m here, I want to make sure I can help the guys out.”
One thing you won’t hear Barbosa do is whine about playing time. His 23 minutes on Wednesday were a season high after he averaged just over 12 in the first seven games.
“Some days I won’t have a lot of minutes, and I knew that when they called me, but just being here and being here and try to help them get better on the court is all that matters to me,” he said.
‘He’s earned it,” Doc Rivers said of Barbosa’s increased role, with or without a healthy Rondo. “I tell everybody, ‘Listen, we sign you, and you come, and there’s no guarantees that you’re going to play. But if you earn it, you get to play.’ And he’s earned it. He deserves to play.’
Rivers has simplified things for Barbosa, asking him not to run complex sets simply because he doesn’t have the experience yet in the system. He is running more transition offense and pick-and-rolls, fairly standard stuff in the NBA.
“Obviously, Rondo goes out in the second half and just putting LB in and we didn’t run much because he doesn’t know much,” Rivers said. “But everything was basically pick-and-rolls. We told him to just keep attacking to the basket and we’ll figure it out from there.’
Admitted Barbosa: “For me, it’s much easier. I feel a lot more comfortable playing that way. But I feel comfortable, too, with the plays. The coaches have been very [helpful] coaching me on the side. I’m almost there.”
The reason Rivers is relying more on Barbosa is his veteran savvy on the court — like when two Jazz players doubled Garnett in the third quarter. Barbosa saw his man leave for KG and immediately went to the basket for an easy layup.
“I just saw that he was doubled,” Barbosa said. “My man went to double him so I just decided to come back and give some help, and it worked out.”