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Even On Cold Night, House Can Help Out

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For as much of a fan favorite as Eddie House is, it's always tough to see him struggle through a tough shooting night given how much of his game is dependent on the strength of his outside shot (though he deserves more credit than he often gets for other facets of the game) . 

To that end, Wednesday night's thriller at the TD Banknorth Garden wasn't exactly a banner night for House, who shot 2-for-10 from the field and 1-for-7 from deep with no assists and no turnovers in 17 minutes of play.  Needless to say, it was far from his best performance.

But as bad it was, it bears noting that House is still useful to this offense even when he isn't hot.

Purely from an anecdotal standpoint (sorry, folks, I've got no numbers for this one), it looks as though the Celtics are more committed this season to running high screen-and-roll sets with House and Paul Pierce.  Of course, I can occasionally (or perhaps more often than that) be slow on the uptake, so perhaps the Celtics did this throughout last season unbeknownst to me, but it seems to be occurring with higher frequency this syear, particularly over the last two games. 

On several occasions against Toronto and Atlanta, House's screen near the top of the circles forced a switch and matched Pierce up with a point guard, be it Jose Calderon, Mike Bibby or occasionally Flip Murray masquerading as a point guard.  Pierce has substantial size advantages against each of these players, and in most instances, he was able to use that size effectively to get himself in the lane for a lay-up opportunity or to pull up for jump shot that was not as well contested as it would have been by a bigger defender.

While the Celtics run this set occasionally with Rajon Rondo as well, they seem to prefer it with House, because the threat of House's outside shot forces opponents to stay honest and shy away from cheating toward Pierce as Eddie rolls back outside.  Because he is the type of player who can heat up at the drop of a hat, even House's cold spells don't seem to have a terribly deteriorating impact on the effectiveness of the set.  One defender still needs to commit to getting to him outside at all times.

You'll hear no complaints from me about the Celtics forcing point guards to stick Paul Pierce or else ending up with an open look for a guy who has made a living knocking down shots, even if he isn't off to a great start this season. 

As an admittedly irrationally staunch Eddie defender, it's nice to see that House can play a meaningful role in this offense even on nights when his shot isn't falling.