Just like Stephon Marbury — the last New York Knicks guard acquired by the Boston Celtics at midseason expected to provide backcourt depth and a little scoring punch going into the playoffs — opinions were split on Nate Robinson being able to fit in with the Celtics.
At his best, Nate is a valuable scorer off the bench who can go for 20 points in 20 minutes, take over a game and drop 40 on any given night, and consistently brings energy to the court. At his worst, he’s a reckless jacker who loses focus easily and seems to find his way into his coach’s doghouse on the regular. After an up-and-down start in Boston where he mixed good scoring nights with some rough shooting displays, Nate has most recently fallen out of the rotation. A. Sherrod Blakely reports from Boston’s CSNNE.com:
He still has the ability to score in waves. But the opportunities to do that will be limited now that coach Doc Rivers is going with a playoff rotation that doesn’t include Robinson.
“He’s been a pro. He’s working at it,” Rivers said when asked how Robinson was handling a diminished role. “I told him what I need out of him, and how he’s going to [have to] earn [playing time] back. He’s going to have to work on it, and he will.”
Said Robinson: “Whenever my number is called, I’ll be ready to play. I know he has his guys that have been here for a while. I just have to wait, and whenever my number is called, however many minutes I play, just be ready to produce and help this team get over that extra hump.”
Robinson’s biggest weakness on the floor has been his defense. Part of that has to do with the C’s defensive schemes being different than what Robinson is used to in New York.
Rivers has also been bothered by Robinson not being as aggressive as he wants offensively.
“I need to be myself and be more aggressive,” Robinson admitted. “I have to find that and be more aggressive, like he’s asking me to be; do everything he asks. That’s play defense, bring good spirit and bring good energy.”
Rivers has gotten big performances from his role players before in the postseason, most recently Big Baby in ’09 and Leon Powe in ’08, so I believe him when he says he’ll look for an opportunity for Nate. But knowing this is a contract year for him, hopefully Nate plays it the right way and doesn’t hurt himself even more going into free agency.
For the right price, would you want Nate on your team?