Where Have You Gone, Eddie House?

The Celtics are now 3-3 in their past six games and a variety of factors have contributed to that record: Their pick and roll defense has been abysmal, they've so far failed to be a dominant rebounding team, they've struggled with back to back games and haven't had too much success against uptempo offenses. Paul Pierce has mentioned the team needing to get off to better starts, and while I'm quick to agree with him, I also feel that we have not received the same spark off the bench from Eddie House in the past six games that we've become accustomed too.

To me, House is the team's energizer bunny. His release is lightning quick and when he hits his first bucket he just keeps going and going and going. We've seen him act as a one-man wrecking crew, capable of both bringing the Celtics out of a deep hole and turning a three-point lead into a nine-point lead in the span of a single minute. After all, this was the man who set a Celtics single season record for three-point percentage in a season last year with a .444 mark from deep.

While I could be quick to criticize the Celtics' team defense these past six games, I'm more concerned with what I deem as an overall lack of energy. Whether it's fatigue or complacency or a burning desire for the playoffs to get here, the C's are looking like a stalled out car that needs a jump-start. But Eddie's one of those players whose offense creates energy for the rest of the squad and that lack of energy from House these past six games has only compounded the energy problem for the rest of the team. Eddie's always been one of those guys who forces you to shake your head in wonderment while muttering, "He got another one." These past six games, I've been shaking my head in frustration while sighing, "Missed another one."

 

The numbers tell the story after the jump

The past six games Eddie has shot 7-31 from the field (22.5 percent), 3-11 from three-point nation (27.3 percent), and 2-2 from the free throw line (two free throws total in the past six games). He's scored 19 points total over the stretch, which averages out to 3.16 points per game. This isn't exactly what I had in mind when Eddie elected to exercise his option this past summer.

Not coincidentally, the team's three-point percentage has been completely atrocious in this same stretch. The C's are a mere 21-93 from three-point territory in the past six games, good for 22.5 percent. While I certainly cannot pin this all on House (and I won't), I at least expect Eddie to help turn this stat around. He's the three-point specialist. He's the sniper. He's the back breaker. Besides Ray Allen, if I can count on anyone to bury a three-pointer when we need it, it's Eddie House. Well, these past six games we've pretty much needed one at every single minute and so far Eddie's only delivered three times.

Eddie's never one to lack confidence. He talks a lot of smack but then backs it up by burying one of his patented threes, which then serves as incentive for him to continue to talk smack all the way back to the huddle when the opposing team is forced to call a timeout. So I'm not convinced it's a lack on confidence on Eddie's part, but I do question the number of shots he has been taking. Quite frankly, I think he needs to shoot the ball more often when he's out there. During this stretch, eight shots has been the high mark for him, which seems fairly appropriate. But he should never be taking just three shots over the course of an entire game, like he did against Phoenix and New Jersey.

One thing I've noticed lately of Eddie is he's the guy bringing the ball up for the second unit. It was very evident against Indiana last night and as a result, he was not able to roam around, take advantage of screens and find open spots outside the arc. It's strange because Marquis Daniels was serving as the primary ball handler for the first handful of games and it was working out beautifully. We were celebrating Daniels' impressive, if quirky game and House was lights out from deep (47.6 percent from three through the first five games of the season).

But now, Eddie's the one initiating the second unit's offense and it's directly inhibiting his game. Eddie's a prideful guy and seems to take exception when talk breaks out about him not being able to serve as backup point guard. Well, it's not so much him not being able to bring the ball across halfcourt, but rather, him filling that role hurts him as a shooter and a scorer and those are hands down his primary roles on this team. Bringing the ball up is the achilles heel of his game. It was no secret that when Daniels brought the ball up Eddie was nothing but a shooter and we all remarked on how well that worked out. Why would the Celtics go away from this formula?

This weekend marks the second straight stretch of back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday and then three days off before a game on Wednesday. These are blissful stretches for a Celtics team that values practice time, but they won't always be there over the course of the season. Last Wednesday it appeared the rest did them well when they pounded the Jazz at home, but they then fell victim to past mistakes against Atlanta on Friday and Indiana last night. While it's clear the team as a whole needs to clean up some things, Eddie needs to find a way to get his head back in the game.

Maybe he just needs to shoot 1,000 shots in practice or maybe he needs to watch a ton of film or maybe he needs to tell Doc he shouldn't bring the ball up or maybe the second unit just needs to spank the first unit in a scrimmage. Whatever the case may be, Eddie House is a key cog of this team and we need him to return to form. Without his offensive spark helping to ignite the second unit, this team's string of struggles against inferior opponents could very well continue.

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