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.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Magic

WATCH: Celtics vs. Magic

Tune into CSN to watch the Celtics play the Magic in Orlando. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by McDonald's on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

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Celtics-Magic preview: Orlando's poor offense gives C's chance to bounce back

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Celtics-Magic preview: Orlando's poor offense gives C's chance to bounce back

Talk about your basketball extremes.

After losing a 107-106 heartbreaker to Houston and their high-powered offense on Monday, the Boston Celtics will be in for a very different -- and less successful -- foe tonight in the Orlando Magic.

The Magic beat Washington 124-116 on Tuesday night despite John Wall’s 52-point effort, but have been one of the NBA’s most offensively challenged teams this season.

Orlando ranks near the bottom in scoring (29th, 94.6 points per game), field goal percentage (28th, .426) and Pace (24th, 96.71) this season.

But Frank Vogel’s crew has been a defensive force thus far in the East even if their record might suggest otherwise.

They rank among the league’s best in several defensive categories such as scoring defense (4th, 98.0 points per game allowed); opponent 3-point percentage (3rd, 33.0 percent), opponent 3-point attempts (4th, 23.6) in addition to allowing a league-low 8.0 made 3's per game.

That will be a stark contrast from the let-it-fly-all-night style Boston had to contend with against the high-scoring Rockets on Monday.

But this set of games is exactly why Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge made of point of trying to put together a roster that was heavy on athleticism and versatility both in the frontcourt as well as on the perimeter.

Against Houston, Tyler Zeller recorded his first DNP-CD (Did not play -- coaches decision) of the season which made sense considering Houston basically plays void of a traditional center.

Orlando, that’s a different story.

Serge Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo and Nikola Vucevic now coming off the bench form a physical triumvirate of big men that can cause lots of problems for a Celtics team that will look to attack the paint often.

When it comes to scoring in the restricted area, the Magic allow opponents to shoot 57.6 percent which ranks seventh in the league. They rank highly when it comes to defending mid-range shots (5-10th, 38.3 percent), corner 3's (6th, 34.5 percent) and above-the-break 3's (8th, 33.8 percent) as well.

And while they have had their issues offensively this season, their recent run of success has been in part aided by a much-improved offensive showing. In their last five games, they are shooting 48.5 percent from the field which ranks fifth in the NBA in that span. For the season, the Magic rank 28th while connecting on 42.6 percent of their shots.

Orlando’s improved shooting with a defense that’s stingy as ever, will make this a tough game for Boston to come away with a victory.

Just as the Magic seek to continue their successful ways, the Celtics come into this game with something to prove as well.

While the missed lay-ups by Al Horford and Isaiah Thomas in the final minute of Monday’s 107-106 loss certainly were factors in the game’s outcome, there were a series of miscommunications earlier in the quarter that fueled Houston’s late surge.

Following the game, Isaiah Thomas pointed out how he called out a play that Jonas Jerebko interpreted as another play the Celtics called.

The miscommunication led to a turnover and subsequent lay-up which in hindsight looms huge considering the margin of victory was just one point.

“The two play calls sound alike,” Thomas told reporters afterwards. “In the heat of battle, I have to do a better job of making sure everybody knows what play we’re running. He (Jerebko) handed the ball back to me when the play wasn’t to hand the ball back to me. That was one of the turnovers that was the key.

Thomas added, “It’s not his fault. As a group, as a point guard, I have to do a better job of letting my guys know what play we’re running. Those little things, especially on the road, those make you lose games. But that wasn’t the play that made us lose. I’m not putting this on Jonas at all.”

Indeed, this team’s success as well as their struggles are the collective efforts of all their core players, Thomas included.

And for them to get back on track, it won’t be one or two players that will make it happen.

It’ll be a team effort, the kind that will allow Boston to find success against different teams no matter how extremely different their styles of play may be.