Celtics-Heat an even bigger game for C's Arroyo

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Celtics-Heat an even bigger game for C's Arroyo

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

MIAMI Today's Miami-Boston matchup was a game that Carlos Arroyo knew months ago would be a big one around these parts.

But this is not quite the vantage point he expected to be viewing it.

Arroyo signed with the Miami Heat at the start of the season, and spent 42 games as their starting point guard.

Eventually, Arroyo lost his starting job to Mario Chalmers.

From there, Arroyo became a backup to becoming a seldom-used reserve to eventually being kicked to curb and replaced by Mike Bibby.

Boston, in need of added depth at the point guard position, signed the eight-year veteran for the remainder of the season.

You look at this game and the potential impact it can have on the seasons of both teams, there's no way to understate its importance.

For Arroyo, it's more than just a big game.

It's personal.

"Obviously the way things ended for me, wasn't the way I would have liked it to be," Arroyo told CSNNE.com. "But it is what it is. This is a business. You have to move on. But I'd be lying to you if I said this was just another game. It's not."

There's no telling how much, if at all, Arroyo will play today.

In Boston's last seven games, he has logged a total of just 10 minutes which includes four games in which he did not play (coaches decision).

But having him around has given the Celtics a veteran presence at the point guard position in case there's foul trouble or a potential injury to either Rajon Rondo or Delonte West. Rondo has missed 11 games this season because of injuries after missing just 12 games total in his four previous seasons. And West, already assured of playing in fewer games this season than he has previously, has appeared in just 22 games this season.

Arroyo, who grew up in nearby Puerto Rico, played his college basketball at Florida International in Miami. He was among the more popular players on the team, and connected with the Miami fan base instantly.

Business or not, having all that taken away is not easy to accept.

And Arroyo, 31, admits his past experiences allowed him to handle the situation.

"I can take something like this happening better at this point in my career," Arroyo said.

Undrafted out of college in 2001, Arroyo has played for some of the winningest coaches in NBA history.

After a strong performance during the 2004 Olympics, Arroyo was rewarded with a four-year, 16 million contract with the Utah Jazz then coached by legendary Jerry Sloan.

Sloan and Arroyo had a falling out, which eventually led to him being traded to the Detroit Pistons who were then coached by Hall of Famer, Larry Brown.

Arroyo was brought in as a backup to Chauncey Billups.

But once again, Arroyo fell out of favor.

After spending most of the season as Billups' backup, Arroyo did not play (coaches decision) in two of the Pistons' last three games during the 2005 NBA Finals.

But those days, Arroyo says, are in the past now.

His focus at this point in his career is to do whatever he can to win a championship.

"That's really all that I care about right now," Arroyo said. "That's why when things didn't work out in Miami, I was eager to join up with a team like the Boston Celtics."

And while his playing time has been limited, Arroyo said he knew it would probably play out like this before he signed with the C's.

"Yeah, I knew coming into this situation, Delonte West was the backup before I got here," Arroyo said. "All I can do is stay ready and wait for my time, hopefully contribute, make the playoffs and be part of something great."

While his playing time may have been limited thus far, there's no mistaking the respect he has already garnered from this team of veterans.

"We got a consolidator," said Kevin Garnett in describing Arroyo's game. "We got another guy that can be the floor general. Carlos played in this league for a long time, for a lot of head-strong coaches. He brings a sense of leadership, a lot of respect in our locker room for him and we're glad he's here."

So is head coach Doc Rivers who sees Arroyo as another valuable leader, even if he's not playing significant minutes.

"Even though he's not playing, he's definitely helping us with the little things," Rivers said. "Like during time-outs, he's talking to guys, giving them pointers here and there on things that he sees out there. That's always great to see, because it means that he's thinking about team, not "me". You can't have enough guys on your team thinking like that; you really can't."

Still, that doesn't mean Arroyo is content to sit on the bench.

"Oh, I definitely want to play," he said. "I have to keep the train moving and stay ready. It's hard because you want to stay in rhythm playing. I'll contribute to this team any way I can. Of course I want to contribute more. Hopefully I'll get that opportunity soon."

It could be today against his former team that tossed him aside just a few weeks ago to clear a roster spot to sign Mike Bibby.

"You want to win every game you play," Arroyo said. "And they all count the same at the end of the day."

He added with a smile, "but some, you really, really want to get. This is one of those games."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.

Jaylen Brown may be the future of Celtics, but he's focused on now

Jaylen Brown may be the future of Celtics, but he's focused on now

BOSTON – This is not how this is supposed to work.

When the regular season ends for high draft picks, there’s usually a nice, warm island awaiting their arrival in late-April when the regular season ends.

But this was no typical rookie season for Boston’s Jaylen Brown.

And as we have seen, Brown isn’t your typical rookie.

Drafted with the third overall pick in last June’s NBA draft, the 6-foot-7 Brown found himself in the rotation on a Celtics team that advanced all the way to the Eastern Conference finals before having their season end at the hands of the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

The path towards individual and team success is littered with struggles and potholes of strife along with the pain of disappointment cluttering up things as well.

From within that rubble lies promise; the kind that has Celtics Nation justifiably excited about the future of Brown with the Celtics.

But Brown isn’t about the future, folks.

“I’m excited about the now,” he said. “I’m excited about this summer. I try not to look too far ahead. Everybody talks about the future and how much potential we have; I’m worried about the now. I want to be part of the now. That’s all I’m focused on.”

That kind of focus is among the many reasons that despite being a rookie, his teammates quickly sensed that the now-20-year-old had his sights set on not just talking about cracking the rotation but actually putting in the work that would leave head coach Brad Stevens no choice but to play him.

“He’s going to be really good,” said Boston’s Gerald Green. “If he keeps his same mentality; he’s humble. And continue to work on his game and continue to learn.

Green added, “he couldn’t be in a better place, than being here. With his talent and his work ethic, he’s going to be great.”

But like most rookies, Brown’s play was anything but a steady on-the-rise movement.

His first NBA start came on the road at Cleveland on Nov. 3.

Boston lost the game, but Brown won over many with his career-high 19 points while spending a good deal of the night guarding LeBron James.

In his next four games, Brown scored a total of just 17 points.

And in Boston’s first-round series with Chicago, Brown's role shrunk in the last four games – all Celtics wins. In those games, he played a total of just under 10 minutes.

So what did he do?

He got back in the gym, continued to work on his game and do a better job at making the most of the minutes he received.

More than anything else, Brown attributes his improved play as the season progressed to simply figuring out the NBA landscape as far as what he could do and what he needed to work on, to get better.

Which is why there are many who believe that Brown will be a much better player than the one we saw this season.

That said, he still had decent numbers – 6.6 points and 2.8 rebounds while shooting 45.4 percent from the field and 34.1 percent from 3-point range.

“I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, coming into the NBA,” Brown said. “Throughout the year, I don’t think people expected me to contribute as much as I did. Now just getting to the Eastern  Conference finals and losing, it builds a hunger you know;  I have a bad taste in my mouth. Gotta put in work during the offseason and come back stronger.”

Like Brown, Al Horford came into the NBA as a high draft pick who wound up in the playoffs that rookie season.

Horford can totally relate to Brown’s comments about not knowing what he was getting into.

“The first year you’re really feeling everything out,” Horford said. “Jaylen has an understanding now of what the league is about. It’s a lot for a rookie to handle. Now he has a better idea (so) he can just focus on getting better, working on his game and I expect him to be much better his second year.”

Brown will have the knowledge gained from being part of a team that came within three wins of getting to the NBA Finals.

To come that close is tough to accept, but Brown sees it all as part of a bigger plan for him and his role with the Celtics moving forward.

“I can use it as fuel. I’ve been learning all year,” Brown said. “I’ve had ups, I’ve had downs, I’ve had opportunities, I’ve had mistakes. So I’ve been learning and growing and improving all year and I’m going to continue to grow and improve and prove people wrong, prove doubters wrong.”

And that process Brown speaks of has certainly been aided by being in a successful situation like Boston compared to some other lottery picks who saw lots of playing time but showed minimal growth playing lots of minutes.

“Being on a winning team and developing good habits, learning how to win, play the game the right way … learning that at a young age is really going to help me,” Brown said. “A lot of young guys, they don’t learn that early. They have to figure it out three, four, five years in. I’m happy I learned it now.”

And while the learning will continue on for Brown during this offseason, it won’t be nearly as tough now than it was when he came into the league.

“I know exactly what I’m preparing for,” Brown said. “I expect a really different result.”

Brown added, “I want to be ready for whatever is thrown at me; no excuses whatsoever.”

Now that’s how this is supposed to work!