Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
With a clearly defined role, Lee is starting to feel his rhythm.
The first few months of the year were more forgettable than not for Courtney Lee. He was having trouble adapting to the new system, his role fluctuated between starting and coming off the bench, and we was flat out in a shooting slump.
I've been pretty consistent in my belief that he's going to come around eventually. Shooters shoot and eventually his shots were bound to start falling. He also plays good defense more often than not, and that is always valuable. In truth, his progression has been gradually leaning towards the positive.
"You can say [I struggled because I was new] in the beginning but that excuse gets old after a while. I just didn't have it," he said. "I think it was just getting comfortable, getting extra shots up in practice." Lee's production has increased during the season. In November, he averaged 5.1 points, shooting 42.1 percent from the field (18.2 percent 3PG). The next month, his scoring average increased to 8.0 points, going 46.9 percent from the floor (38.5 percent 3PG). On Friday, he entered the game posting 6.8 points per game but shooting more consistently, 56.0 percent FG and 50.0 percent beyond the arc.
He had a good game last night as well.
But with two minutes left in the first quarter, Lee intercepted a pass and raced down to drain a 3-pointer. Then with five seconds left, Lee picked up a loose ball, sprinted down the floor, and floated a jumper at the buzzer that gave the Celtics a 24-21 lead. They never fell behind again. No one finished with a higher plus/minus rating than Lee, who helped the Celtics go plus-17 while he was on the floor.
If you think about it, the opposing team usually has a good scoring shooting guard that they rely on for points. If they are harassed by either Bradley or Rondo to start the game and then have to deal with Courtney Lee when he comes off the bench, he's never going to get any decent looks or rest. Just how we want it. And when he has to go chase Lee or Bradley out to the 3 point line when they are on offense, even better.
Courtney is still perhaps one of our better trading chips and might not be long for this team if the right deal came along. But if Ainge makes no moves, he's got a role and is showing more and more that he's capable of filling it.