Sports

Celtics Tougher Match-Up for Heat Thanks to Sweep

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The Celtics made a big move at the trade deadline, overhauling nearly half of their roster. Entering March, the Celtics had five players who were brand new and two others -- Delonte West and Jermaine O'Neal -- who after missing so much time due to injuries had just as much to learn as the new guys.

Needless to say, the Celtics struggled to implement these pieces right away and, as a result, struggled down the stretch. They finished on a 10-11 slide dating back to March 9th.

While the new additions struggled to fit in right away many fans jumped ship. Coach Doc Rivers urged patience, saying it takes time to implement the new parts.

"You're a fan or you're not," said Rivers back on April 14th. "So, no, [I don't understand fan frustration] would be the answer. There's nothing wrong with being disappointed with wins and losses, but we did make a lot of changes. That takes time. If you don't get that, I can't help you. If you want to jump, I'm not going to be there with you."

Time has certainly helped the Celtics. It seems that the new players are getting more and more comfortable in Doc's system, as detailed in a piece by Scott Souza of the MetroWest Daily News.

And that's no easy thing to do.

"It takes a while to get used to Doc's system," Glen Davis told Souza. "I've been here for four years and sometimes I have to read just myself and the way I think. I might go on a four-game skid because I'm trying to change up, or do something for Doc, and for the team."

Some of the new guys may have looked lost for the past month and a half. Yet things look like they're getting better according to Doc and the players. The extra time from sweeping the Knicks has given the Celtics some much needed practice time, and the new guys are starting to get it.

"As the playoffs went on we kind of figured it out more and more," Souza quotes Rivers. "We got comfortable with what they can't run more than what they can run. Over everything now, we know certain things we have to stay away from with that group because we're asking for a turnover. They just don't have the ability to do some of the things our starters do with our motion (offense).

"One thing they do well is post. That second group is a great post group - Jeff Green, Delonte and Big Baby. We have to find a (play) package that's more suited for them."

The sweep of the Knicks was a big blessing for the C's. It's made things even easier for these new Celtics, points out Souza.

"The last game of the series," Ray Allen said, "we ran plays with me and that second unit so Delonte can get comfortable with some of the things that we want to run. We haven't had a lot of time to do that. Getting him comfortable in that second unit with Jeff, and trying to get some fluidity with that group, is something we've worked on, and will continue to work on."

"We couldn't run our entire (play) package because they didn't know it," said Rivers. "So we ran the things we thought they ran well. As the playoffs went on, we added more. Now we have the time to add even more."