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When analyzing what Michael Finley‘s effect on the Celtics would be, I knew that I had to see exactly how he would fit into the Celtics’ rotation on a given night. After watching his first three games, it is pretty clear to me that he might be that veteran shooter that will guide the team’s second unit and add some points to the scoreboard.
Now I know that Boston brought in Nate Robinson a couple of weeks ago to handle the point guard duties, but he is by no means a leader on the court. Sure, he can handle the ball well and make the occasional assist, but from what I have seen, he doesn’t set up many plays. He’s a scorer and that is exactly what the team knew when they traded for him. Finley, on the other hand, has the opportunity to guide the bench and with his veteran leadership, the second unit could do very well.
In his first game against the Bucks, I noticed that he was not hesitant to shoot the ball and his first shot on the Celtics was a three that hit nothing but net. Not too long after that shot, he took a jump shot from about 20 feet out and nailed that as well. He missed his next shot but finished his first game with five points on 2-for-3 shooting with a rebound in eight minutes, and that is a very good sign.
The following game, in which the Celtics were blown out by the Memphis Grizzlies, Finley got the opportunity to play a little more as the starters struggled in the game and sat out the majority of the lop-sided loss. In 14 minutes of play, Finley was able to knock down two three-pointers and grab three boards while finishing with 10 points off the bench. The last time he scored in double-figures was at the end of November in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers. The only difference between the two games is that he played 27 minutes in the game against the 76ers and only 14 against the Grizzlies.
Against the Pacers Friday night, Finley saw his most action in a Celtics uniform. He played almost 18 minutes, and tallied nine points on 4-for-5 shooting with three rebounds. It was yet another strong effort off the bench, and it seems so far that the veteran shooter has been rejuvenated in Boston.
Another thing that is very noticeable in his first three games is that he is not scared to take a shot, and that is something that is always good for a team. He has been around the league longer than most players and he understands when to take a shot and when to pass the ball. Every time he shoots, it is going to be a high-percentage shot, otherwise he wouldn’t shoot the ball. Sometimes it takes a shooter a little longer to get into a grove and we have seen that with Ray Allen this season, but when he’s on, he’s on fire and no one can stop him. Finley is the same way. Also like Ray Ray, Finley can make the very important game-winning shot without hesitation.
Although he did just turn 37, it appears that he still has a lot left in the tank. Well maybe not a lot, but there’s something. If he didn’t come out shooting then I would really wonder whether or not it was a smart move, but since he has shot almost lights-out, it’s clear he can still play.
When you look at his stats from this season, they can be very deceiving. When the season first started I thought that the Spurs were going to be the second best team in the Western Conference, battling it out with the Lakers for the Championship. I was wrong.
The Spurs currently sit in seventh place in the West, just ahead of the Portland Trail Blazers with a record of 37-25. The record is very disappointing for a team that had very high hopes, but with multiple injuries and old age, the team is struggling (like the Celtics) to stay in the playoff race.
So I don’t know if I would say that only Finley was struggling in San Antonio, because most of the team has struggled mightily. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have all seen a decrease in many areas of their game. So to say that Finley was the only one who struggled in San Antonio is a big understatement because everyone on that team is struggling this season.
Cassell comes to mind because as a veteran himself, he was always quick to take the correct shot and make the right plays. Brown was the same way. Sure he didn’t take many shots but of those that he did, he made them.
So is Finley like a combination between Cassell and Brown? Possibly. He does play a different position and is right in the middle height-wise. Oh, and he’s played forever.
So is he the missing piece that will put the Celtics over the top? Maybe. After watching them get destroyed by Memphis the other night it’s hard to imagine someone off the bench that can solve their recent struggles, but stranger things have happened before.
I expect that him and Robinson to work together and get the rest of the bench involved on a nightly basis. The second unit has been very up-and-down all season, but maybe with Finley’s leadership, it will find some sort of stability. At least we can only hope so.
Signing him was a no-brainer and I am very glad that the C’s did. Danny Ainge got him for the veteran’s minimum and he basically just took over for either J.R. Giddens or Bill Walker, who never saw ample minutes anyways. He will definitely help the team more than he could possibly hurt them. By joining a bench that has controversial players in Robinson, Rasheed Wallace and even Glen Davis, hopefully he can stabilize things and make the Celtics a contender again.