BOSTON (CBS) – He may have been the last man signed this year, but Leandro Barbosa has been an instant success for the Boston Celtics.
Brought in 12 days before the season, Barbosa has yet to really learn the Celtics offense. But that hasn’t stopped him from putting up impressive numbers.
On Wednesday, with point guard Rajon Rondo out with an ankle sprain, Barbosa scored 16 points off the Celtics bench against the Jazz. Seven of those points came in a six minute stretch in the first half — much like the 16 points he scored in 16 minutes against the Miami Heat on opening night.
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Barbosa has found success by attacking the basket, giving the Celtics a bundle of energy off the bench. Doc Rivers credited him for playing a big role in their 98-93 win over the Jazz on Wednesday, and his message to him before checking in was simple: just play ball.
“We didn’t run much (on offense) because he doesn’t know much,” said Rivers. “Everything was basically pick-and-rolls. We told him to just keep attacking to the basket and we’ll figure it out from there.”
“I just play the game; go with the flow,” said Barbosa. “I try to bring a lot of energy and get sets for the other guys – Paul (Pierce) and (Kevin) Garnett. What we want to do is just win, and we’re on a roll with three (in a row). That’s what we want to keep doing.”
It’s a work in progress, but Barbosa is starting to get the hang of the Celtics offense. Until then, he has no problem with Rivers letting him loose.
“For me it’s much easier and I feel a lot more comfortable playing that way,” he said. “But I’m getting comfortable too with the plays. The coaches have been working with me, and I’m almost there.”
The minutes have been sporadic for Barbosa, but he doesn’t mind that either. For a man that went the entire off-season not knowing if he’d get a phone call, he is just happy to be back in the NBA — especially for a team like the Celtics.
“Some days, some games, I won’t have a lot of minutes. I knew that. Just being here and trying to help, whether on the court or off the court, is all that matters for me,” said Barbosa. “The Boston Celtics are a great team, great guys and a great organization. When I got the call it was a surprise for me. Now that I’m here, I just want to help the guys.”