It hasn't been all rainbows and butterflies for Nate Robinson since he's been with the Celtics, or maybe it has? The truth is, nobody can really figure Nate out- and he's fine with that. There are Nate lovers and Nate haters, and it's likely the latter outnumbers the former, but during the second quarter of last night's 96-84 victory over the Magic, it was all love.
Banished to the bench by Mike D'Antoni in New York, it was clear that Robinson was on the outs. When he was traded at the deadline to the Celtics along with Marcus Landry for Eddie House, J.R. Giddens, and Bill Walker, many questioned the move. Why bring in a guy who many said was immature, selfish, and didn't play defense; let alone knows how to win?
When the honeymoon ended in Boston, Nate found himself on the sidelines once again for the majority of games, at times getting a "DNP- Coaches Decision" next to his name in the box score. It appeared as though Doc, a former point guard himself, had had enough of Nate's on-court decisions. Everyone knew he could score, but this team isn't built around scoring and wasn't about to be.
When the playoffs came around, Nate was out of the rotation. He got garbage minutes here and there, but never had an impact on any series. The entire time, however, Rivers privately and publicly stood by Nate, going as far as to say that he would win a game for the Celtics at some point in this series.
With Rondo sitting for the beginning of the second quarter after going down hard in the first quarter, Nate made the first real playoff appearance of his career. Nate exploded for 13 points in the quarter, extending the Celtics' lead over the Magic while Rondo was out. It was his play in Game 5, however, that earned him playing time for Game 6.
"He gave me the confidence when he came into Game 5," Rivers said, "even though we played awful, that he had bought into our defensive system, and that he was able to run a couple set that's we thought would be effective against them. So I had made the decision before the game. I told our staff Nate would play tonight."
It would have been easy for Nate to mail it in earlier in the Playoffs, but "Mighty Mouse" as Glen Davis called him after the game, has been hard at work in anticipation of a moment like this.
"He came into practice, got his work in, shot the ball, and did whatever he had to do to stay ready," said Paul Pierce. "(Friday) his number was called, and that just shows his true professionalism being ready when his number was called."
Nate has also been one of the best Celtics cheerleaders on the sidelines. His energy and enthusiasm, on the court or off, is contagious to all. Whether he's chest bumping Ray Allen after the opposing team takes a timeout, or he's pumping up the fans, Nate brings that energy every night- and makes sure to exert some way.
Luckily for the Celtics, he exerted it on the court Friday night. He has shown that he has finally bought into the system, and was rewarded with important playing time that may have ultimately been the difference between the Celtics clinching the series in six games, or a Game 7 in Orlando.
"It was a great opportunity," said Robinson. "I thank God, I thank Doc, the fans for giving me so much energy and my teammates for believing. They always told me be ready, be ready you never know. Today was that day."