BOSTON -- Keyon Dooling had started nearly 100 games over his career before joining the Boston Celtics this season.
On Wednesday night, he got his first nod with his new team. Dooling started at shooting guard in place of Ray Allen, who was battling flu-like systems, in the Celtics 89-70 win over the New Jersey Nets.
It was a transition not only to the starting lineup, but playing to the two-guard rather running the floor as the point guard like he has been doing with the Cs.
I think the adjustment for me is getting most of my minutes at the point versus starting at the two, he told CSNNE.com prior to the game. Its a totally different position -- less ball handling, less responsibilities, but more continuity stuff, so its my job. Ive got to know two positions and thats why I prepare for two positions.
Dooling played 31 minutes, scoring five points (2-for-6 FG) and chipping in one assist. After the game, he was glad the Celtics earned a W, which came from a second-half comeback. Dooling's third-quarter trey broke a 40-40 tie, and the Celtics outscored the Nets 23-7 after that point in the remainder of the quarter.
At the end of the day, we got the win, Dooling said. I didn't shoot the ball the way I wanted to, but defensively, I think, in the second half we really turned it up. Obviously MarShon Brooks had a great first half . . . he had 15 points, and I couldn't allow him to do that again in the second half. So I really wanted to focus on defense and we had a 29-12 quarter. That was the difference of the game, I think.
Both Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce noted Doolings experience in the lineup.
He brought energy, said Garnett. We know that hes an outside threat, obviously he can shoot threes, but his energy and his energy and his leadership is what we value here. I thought he brought more of a defensive mindset to the starting lineup versus offense, and I thought second half we got into a better flow versus first half.
Pierce would not have minded seeing Dooling taking a few more shots, but believes that will come with time.
Keyon, he fills in for Ray, a veteran presence, know-how, a guy who can knock down shots, another ball handler, he said. Its kind of unconventional that we run kind of a like a two-point guard front set. Youve got two ball handlers so you would think wed probably run a little bit more, but its just about probably implementing him more with the starting unit and him understanding because at times I thought he had opportunities offensively that he should have took, but he swung the ball. But thats just us breaking him into the starting unit and getting more comfortable with what we do out there.
For Dooling, this start was different not only because of the position he played or the teammates he shared the court with, but for the franchise he started for.
At this point in my career, I'm grateful for every second I get to play in this amazing league. he said. But when you have a historic organization like this one, it's just a whole different ball game. I can't explain it. It's just something that I have never experienced, on any level. The commitment to winning over here is second-to-none. The history of the banners that you see, everywhere you look, it's history. Even in our lockers you see former players who've worn your number. So it's just totally different in that aspect.