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The Sam Cassell Quandary

In games 3 and 4 in Atlanta Sam Cassell played a combined 22 minutes, shooting 1-7 from the floor in the process. He also totaled 3 boards, 3 assists and 1 turnover. Given those stats it does not make a whole lot of sense to pin those losses on him. Yet there is a sense amongst Celtics fans that Cassell’s approach to the game – shoot, shoot, shoot – is detrimental in a couple of ways. The first is that he needs to make a fair number of those shots. That’s fairly obvious. When he’s off Cassell doesn’t take from the table. Instead he drops a nuclear bomb on the table, obliterating the take/bring debate altogether. And that gets to the bigger issue. Is Cassell’s approach detrimental to the team beyond whether his shots go down or not? Does that shoot, shoot, shoot mentality promote selfishness that spreads to the rest of the team? That’s a good debate. Personally I was hoping that Cassell would disappear for the remainder of the series after his performance Atlanta. Of course the former Rocket, Sun, Maverick, Net, Buck, Timberwolf and Clipper did not make it this long without confidence. As Kenny Smith reported on TNT last night Cassell was displeased with his minutes in Atlanta. Smith relayed that his ex-teammate felt he was brought to Boston to hit shots and should be allowed to do that. This revelation occurred in the midst of Cassell dropping 13 on the Hawks (6-8 from the field, 1-3 from the line). And it matches up nicely with Cassell’s quote from Thursday’s Daily Dime:

"This is my time of the year. I love playoff basketball. I understand what it means. I understand what it takes to be successful during this time of year." – Sam Cassell

Can Cassell take a back seat in games/series when he’s not a good fit? If his shot isn’t falling, he’s not creating for others and there is no one for him to defend, what else is there? That’s something to think about, provided the Celtics can make their way to round 2.