Rivers: Collins had 'an amazing impact' against Cavs

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Rivers: Collins had 'an amazing impact' against Cavs

BOSTON Paul Pierce had just lit up Cleveland for 40 points and in doing so, the 35-year-old became the oldest Celtic ever to score 40 points in a game.
That is indeed worthy of keeping the game ball.
But Pierce, who also ranks among the franchise's all-time leaders in assists, didn't hesitate to pass the ball on to Jason Collins who had one point scored to name.
But Collins' impact went far beyond the stat sheet as the Celtics snapped their three-game losing streak with a 103-91 win over the Cavs.
On a night when Pierce's brilliance shined brightly, there was a sense that much of his success would not have possible without the stealth contributions of Collins, who made his first start as a Celtic on Wednesday.
"Jason Collins, for getting one point and two rebounds, had an amazing impact on the game for us," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers.
His ability to defend the post and draw charges not only provided a much-needed defensive presence, but it also allowed Kevin Garnett to go back to his natural power forward position which paid dividends for the Celtics at both ends of the floor.
Rivers said he had been thinking about inserting Collins into the lineup for quite some time, but never got around to doing it.
"I was actually trying to wait for Avery (Bradley), to be honest," Rivers said. "But we just went ahead and did it."
And the impact was undeniable not only in terms of what the Celtics got out of his defensively, but also his impact in allowing Celtics scorers such as Paul Pierce to have better looks at the basket.
Boston opened the Cleveland game with a 7-0 run that was aided in part by Collins' ability to free up scorers.
"First basket we had was a pick; it was a bone-crushing pick, and it was by Jason," Rivers said. "That's what we told you before the game, he sets picks -- hard ones. That set the tone."
Said Collins: "If I'm not scoring, I better do something on the offensive end. I pride myself on setting tough picks; going out there and being physical. And on the defensive end, players drive the lane. ... are they going to try and take a charge on you or foul you pretty hard."
Collins being able to step into the starting lineup after appearing in just five games this season, speaks to his preparation for anything and everything the C's could possibly toss his way.
"I feel fine," Collins said. "I've been really working hard with the strength coaches. They do a great job of making sure I'm ready. Cardio-wise I felt good."
So do the Celtics after they snapped a three-game losing skid with Wednesday's victory.
Having Collins start will certainly strengthen the Celtics interior defense. But more than that, it'll make Kevin Garnett's job easier.
"He's one of the better talkers on our team defensively and knows everything we're doing and I thought he made Kevin relax," Rivers said. "He's felt like he's had to do so much, and I thought having Jason out there was good for him."
Garnett agreed.
"A gutty veteran who knows coverages, very professional," Garnett said of Collins. "J.C. is what we call a solid guy; he's not going to make too many mistakes. He knows his role. Doc is looking for different lineups. He came in and did the job tonight. It's good to see him get an opportunity and take advantage of the opportunity."
And while Collins doesn't exactly strike fear into the hearts of teams with his play defensively, he has been in the league long enough to have established himself as a better-than-average post defender.
For a Celtics team whose toughness continues to come under scrutiny, Collins' brand of basketball may be just what they need to turn around what has been a season that hasn't gone quite as planned.
"He plays power basketball; he's firm," Garnett said. "Sometimes we lack that. He came in and was very firm; not only with his fouls but with his shows (defensively) and we communicate really well. It was good; good to work with him."