Increased PT for Cassell and Brown
The Celtics have been playing the "narrow focus" broken record for a while, and when they won No. 60 Wednesday night, they had no idea they'd achieved the milestone.
Of course it sounds silly, and Sam Cassell thought the same thing.
Then he got into the locker room.
"You ask some guys what's our record, they don't even know," Cassell said. "They're not [kidding]. They don't care about that."
Needless to say, Cassell, signed by the Celtics last month for his eighth stop in a 15-year career, is still getting acclimated.
Title hunt aside, there are good things about being in Boston. Cassell is a lot closer to his two children in Baltimore and can skip down to New York for Jay-Z concerts. But both he and another March arrival, P.J. Brown, are still taking it all in.
"I've never seen anything like this," Cassell said. "As far as how Doc [Rivers] runs things and the organization, we've got one goal and one goal only. That's to win the chip."
Over the last few weeks, Cassell hasn't seen much of the parquet. He sat out the 92-77 win over the Pacers Wednesday and played one minute last Friday against the Hornets.
The same could be said for Brown, who was as close to retirement as you could get (homework with the kids, carpools, soccer games) before phone calls from Paul Pierce and Ray Allen brought him back to the court.
Brown was a DNP Tuesday in Chicago, about a week after similar designations against Phoenix and Philadelphia.
But with home-court advantage for the playoffs a Boston win or Detroit loss from fruition, Rivers plans on increasing Cassell and Brown's minutes.
In Cassell's case, Rivers said, it's crucial because he needs to get a handle on the point guard position - which, strangely, was part of the reason for sitting him against the Pacers.
"Sam needs to get a better rhythm of the offense," Rivers said. "I knew after this game he was going to be on the floor a lot, and that's basically why I decided to play Eddie [House]."
Cassell has played for eight teams and nine coaches, so he knows the game. It's just a matter of knowing the Celtics' system, which he said will take time, but not much longer.
"I'm getting better," he said. "I'm getting a lot better. Just getting familiar with the sets. They run the same thing, just different terminology. Once I can call my own plays when I'm on the court, I'm going to break out with a 20-point game."
As for Brown, Rivers said he will play. But if he never makes a basket, Brown still has made an impact. On the court, all Rivers needs from Brown are things that are inherent: be big, be a center, and get rebounds. Chances are the ball will find him.
It's what Brown does off the court that Rivers raves about.
"If every team could have a P.J. Brown in their locker room, it's to their benefit," Rivers said. "I'm pretty comfortable with P.J. whether we play him in this stretch or not. I know he's going to help us."
To gauge Brown's impact, you'd be better off checking the lines for some of the other big men in the box score - particularly Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis.
"He's been great for Perk," Rivers said. "He's been great for Baby, and you can tell that they listen to him. He's a great pro."
Brown has made a protege of Leon Powe, who has a similar background: being drafted in the second round, coming from a tough past, and scrapping his way through the NBA. Brown, who has carved out a 15-year career and won 60 games with the Miami Heat in 1996-97, can tell Powe it's all worth it.
"We talk about a lot of different things," Brown said. "Not just about basketball but about life on and off the court. Things these guys have been through, I've been through it all. I've seen it all. And they trust me to come to me and ask me [about] some serious topics and just ask me about everything."
Brown tried to go from zero to 60 about a month ago, walking out of near-retirement into a machine and trying to be one of the pieces.
"This team is already 55 games in, they know each other, the chemistry is there," he recalled. "I've never played with Kevin Garnett before. I've never played with Leon Powe, Paul Pierce. So I've got to learn their tendencies and they have to learn me. Obviously, I'm still learning, but overall, I think it's going good."
Cassell called the biggest adjustment finding a role on a team that was winning before he arrived.
"This team won 49 games before I got here," Cassell said. "You can't just come here and spread your will. You've got to get in when you fit in."