A Daily Babble Production
Tommy Heinsohn has to drive non-Celtics fans crazy. The good news is that his job isn't to play to non-Celtics fans. It's hard to imagine I was alone in loving every minute of his happy chatter during Wednesday night's romp over the Kings, including some mildly confusing commentary about Eddie House having "windows" as some extension of the mansion concept. Because for the third time in his last four games, Eddie earned every word of praise, be it in Tommy-speak or otherwise.
Since last Wednesday, Eddie has put up his three highest scoring performances of the season at 25, 23 and then 28 points. He has had a 20-point quarter. Of his last 32 attempts from three-point land, he has knocked down 22, nearly 69 percent. And he has looked great doing it.
When Eddie is on, he is a pleasure to watch. The ball just seems to hop off his hands. As The Guru remarked on the phone after last night's 8-for-9 three-point shooting display, "It really doesn't take long for the ball to get from him up to the rim and lately in." Eddie embodies the phrase catch-and-shoot. As soon as he receives the ball, usually with his hands just above the word "Celtics" on his jersey, his right hand already seems to be launching the projectile skywards with that rainbow-arcing shot. The more it goes in the hole, the more its proprietor's energy rises. He jumps, he swaggers, he screams and he keeps running harder up and down the floor, even when he isn't bombing from the perimeter.
The crescendo of Eddie excitement reached a new high last night when he seemed nearly incapable of missing. He took good shots, many of which came in transition, with Eddie setting up shop out on the wings and waiting to catch and fire. His 16 points in the second quarter helped the Celtics stretch a close game into a 19-point halftime lead. The 12 he added in the first six minutes and change of the fourth quarter kept the game out of reach as the Celtics cruised to a 119-100 victory. When it was all said and done, Eddie had amassed 28 points on 10-of-13 field goal shooting in just 21 minutes of action. Mike and Tommy raved, and the New Garden crowd chanted "EDD-IE, EDD-IE!" Just an awesome night.
As a man who shoots with no conscience, it is no doubt possible that Eddie has simply found his stroke as of late and has hit a pleasant hot streak. But it also seems plausible that a good portion of that has come from playing an adjusted role and being on the floor with different teammates.
Doc Rivers has gone away of late from employing the five-man bench unit that he had been using on a regular basis earlier in the season. House and Large Baby in particular have found themselves playing with groups of starters recently, and the results have been good. Rather than serving as the de facto point guard on a second unit struggling with ball movement, House has been playing more of an off-guard role, occasionally next to Gabe Pruitt in the backcourt, often with Paul Pierce or Ray Allen as the primary creator and sometimes alongside Rajon Rondo. While I didn't (and don't) have as hard a time watching Eddie run the point as many Celtics fans do, it's hard to argue with how he looks playing off the ball. He has been able to focus more on doing what he does best, which is being a spot-up shooter.
Eddie is sprinting down the sidelines in odd-man rushes in transition, and Pierce and Rondo are routinely finding him wide open for kick-outs after they draw multiple defenders in the lane. The same phenomenon is occurring in halfcourt sets as well. The penetration leaders in the Celtics' offense are forcing defenses to react to them, and one of the many results is House getting great looks from the outside. This is a good shooter who has made a living being able to hit shots from deep even when defenders are near. When he has space, he is lethal.
That isn't to say that Eddie will necessarily continue at his current pace of the last eight days. He probably won't, if for no other reason than because nobody shoots close to 70 percent from downtown in this league on a regular basis. But as long as he keeps getting opportunities to play away from the ball and with teammates who will get in the lane, draw defensive attention and dish effectively, it stands to reason that he will be even more productive and valuable to this team than he was earlier this season. And so long as he is this white-hot, he sure is a joy to watch.