Leandro Barbosa averages 6.9 points-per-game and is on the court an average of 14 minutes-per-game. He’s averaging 47% from the field and 41% from behind the arc. I could go on with the numbers all day long, but the numbers don’t even begin to tell the story of Barbosa’s impact on this fragile Boston Celtics team. Barbosa has proven to be an early season revelation, a great, late addition to the team at a very palatable salary, and his ability to attack the rim has given Doc Rivers another scorer on a team full of them.
And credit Barbosa for being the consummate professional. His minutes fluctuate wildly, but he doesn’t sulk and he’s always ready to contribute. Against Orlando, Barbosa entered the game and immediately made his impact felt, knocking down threes in quick succession and then attacking on the break. It was the kind of jolt the Celtics needed, and something that Rivers needs on a more consistent basis.
With Avery Bradley still out and recovering from shoulder surgery, Barbosa has made the most of his opportunity. Just compare his numbers to Courtney Lee – Lee averages 23 minutes-per-game and 5.2 points respectively. He’s shooting 46% from the field and a horrid 23.8% from behind the arc. Not exactly the kind of numbers the Celtics expected when working the deal to bring Lee into the fold this summer.
Going forward, Doc’s challenge will be to find the minutes Barbosa needs – and has earned – to continue to be successful. The knock on Barbosa is that he’s streaky, and that he’s not a great ball handler. Rivers acknowledges the latter openly, claiming that he has two shooting guards in the game when Lee and Barbosa – or Jason Terry and Barbosa – are on the court together. But Doc has figured out a way to make it work, to great effect.
Barbosa’s scoring binges bring to mind Vinny Johnson, the Detroit Pistons shooting guard from those late-80s championship teams. Johnson was known as ‘The Microwave’ because of the way he heated up offensively, a nickname bestowed by our own Danny Ainge. Barbosa, in many respects, is just like Johnson – cold one minute, and then binge scoring the next. Maddening for most coaches, but Rivers takes it in stride and knows Barbosa helps the cause far more than he hurts it.
Some things you just have to live with in order to get that much-needed jolt of adrenaline.