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4.09.2008

Cassell Coming Around

Marc Spears has a good piece in today's Globe.

Here are some snippets:

Cassell's First 13 Games

Through his first 13 games with Boston, the 38-year-old almost looked his age on the floor. Cassell averaged an ordinary 5.3 points on 45.4 percent shooting, missed 10 of 13 3-pointers and averaged 1.7 assists in 15.8 minutes per game. His only big shot was a late 3-pointer in a win at San Antonio March 17. He also missed games against Milwaukee and Washington last week with back spasms.

The Talk with Doc

Sam asked Doc for some feedback concerning his play. "If you are doing too much," Rivers told Cassell, "I'll tell you. It's just that simple." This talk seemed to do the trick.

The Last Two Games

Cassell had 10 points on 5-of-10 shooting, 4 assists, and 4 rebounds in a 102-86 victory over Milwaukee Friday. But as teammate Paul Pierce described it, the Celtics saw "vintage Cassell" in a 99-89 victory at Atlanta Saturday, when he had 20 points and five assists in 26 minutes.

A victory by the Hawks would have ensured them a first-round matchup in the Eastern Conference playoffs against top seed Boston. But with the Celtics' starters out for the majority of the fourth quarter, Cassell stole the show and led the team to victory by scoring 10 points, nailing two 3-pointers, and dishing out two assists in the fourth.

Cassell got Atlanta forward Josh Smith to foul out after baiting him on a pump fake with 2:26 left in the fourth. Cassell smiled and pointed at the bench before sinking two free throws to give Boston an 89-84 lead. And in the final 90 seconds, Cassell nailed the two 3-pointers to seal the win.

Garnett on Cassell: The Good

"He has [ice] water in his veins," Garnett said. "He has never been afraid to take the big shots. He's always been poised. He's always understood the game. I've always told him that he should go into coaching. He laughs when I say that. But he's very, very good at knowing how the game flows. "He's a general out there. But he's one of the very, very poised players I have played with."

Cassell's Unpacking his Bags

"I am going to play next year, right here," Cassell said. "As long as Doc is running this ship, I ain't going nowhere." When asked why he is confident Boston will re-sign him, Cassell said, "If they can find a better backup point guard than me, I'd like to see it."

Garnett on Cassell: The Not So Good

"I see him every day," said Garnett. "It's nerve-wracking, I'll be honest with ya'll. It's not a good thing. "If you guys have a place for him, if ya'll want to take him off my hands, be my guest. You got to cook, you got to clean, got to iron his clothes, carry his bag because he has a bad back. [It's] killing me. So if any of ya'll want to house Sam Cassell, be free to do that."

Bulpett's Take from the Herald

Watching the 38-year-old point guard strut and gesture - and score 15 of his 20 points - in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s win in Atlanta, the rest of the C’s were laughing with Cassell, not at him. The regulars were howling on the bench when he drilled a pair of late 3-pointers to humble the Hawks. They doubled over when he signaled toward his lower region to emphasize his massive . . . uh, courage.

“Sam got caught up in it, man,” Kendrick Perkins [stats] said. “He was feeling it. Hey, I was feeling it, too, just watching him from the bench.

Perhaps even more important, Cassell’s 30 points in 42 weekend minutes (he had 10 points Friday against the Bucks) showed he can be an asset as the club heads into the postseason.

“He’s getting it,” Rivers said. “He’s not going to get our whole offense, because that’s impossible now. So what we’ve done is narrow down what we think he’s great at in our offense, and that’s all we’re going to run when he’s in. That’s made him free again. He’s comfortable and he’s free.”

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