Rivers: Daniels is key to us winning

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Rivers: Daniels is key to us winning

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

WALTHAM - Last season the Boston Celtics turned to Tony Allen to shut down LeBron James and Dwyane Wade during the playoffs.

When James and Wade joined forces on the Miami Heat, the question arose, ''How will the Celtics defend both players on the court at the same time?''

And when Tony Allen signed with the Memphis Grizzlies shortly thereafter, the question arose, "Who will defend James and Wade?"

The answer is, there is no answer right now. Doc Rivers told CSNNE.com he doesnt know if the Celtics have "that guy" yet, but he has someone in mind to help fill that role as the C's battle the Heat on Opening Night.

While Paul Pierce and Ray Allen will take on James and Wade in the first unit, Rivers believes Marquis Daniels could make an impact defensively off the bench -- one that goes beyond Opening Night.

"He's huge. Marquis is key to us winning this year," Rivers said. "The better he plays, the better our team will be because it makes our bench better."

Daniels is eager to live up to his coach's praise. After missing the majority of last season (his first with the Celtics) due to injuries, Daniels feels he can be a serious contributor this time around.

"I thank Doc for thinking highly of me," he told CSNNE.com. "I've just got to come in and prove him right, just go out there and do everything he asks me to do."

If that means locking down on James or Wade on Tuesday night, Daniels is up for the challenge. His plan of attack -- play aggressive basketball by making them work on both ends of the court.

"I try to take them out of their comfort zone," he explained. "There's not much they can't do, but you've got to make them do stuff they're not accustomed to doing. You know they get to the basket, so I try to get them to shoot more contested, harder shots. Just make it challenging for them."

Daniels was lauded for his defense before he signed with the Celtics in 2009, but his full potential was never achieved last season. When he was healthy enough to play, he struggled with inconsistencies. Daniels was determined to change that this summer.

So far he has impressed with his improvements on the offensive end. Now that he is injury-free, Daniels believes he has a lot to showcase on the defensive end as well.

"I'm a solid defensive player," he said. "I use my length, I use my strength, and I try to make it tough for guys, no matter what it is. I've got to challenge the ball, pressure all shots. I've just got to go out there and be a pest."

Daniels could get his first shot on Opening Night.

"He's been great," said Rivers. "So he's got to keep it going."

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comJCameratoNBA.

First Celtics practice 'a little different' but 'feels right' for Horford

First Celtics practice 'a little different' but 'feels right' for Horford

WALTHAM, Mass. – NBA players are creatures of habit so you can understand why Al Horford was just a little bit out of his element on his first practice with the Boston Celtics.
 
After nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, Horford hit the free agent market this summer and signed a four-year, $113 million with the Celtics.
 
Horford acknowledged that his first practice with the Celtics “was a little different” but added, “It’s definitely a weird feeling, but it feels right to be here.”

Players, coaches, national pundits, the list is seemingly endless when it comes to folks who believe Horford is an ideal fit with the Boston Celtics.
 
“He can do score in the paint, shoot 3s, defend, pass, he can do it all out there,” Amir Johnson told CSNNE.com. “He’s going to fit in well with us.”
 
But like any rookie or newcomer to a team, Horford admitted he had some moments when he was a step or two late getting to where he needed to be on the floor.
 
“We’re running through a lot of plays, a lot of concepts being thrown out,” Horford said. “It’s a matter of getting comfortable with all the sets.”
 
As much as he will work to figure things out, Horford is wise enough to know he’ll need the help of his new teammates, too.
 
“I’m going to lean on a lot of the guys,” Horford said. “I’ll definitely ask a lot of questions. Avery (Bradley) already has gotten in my ear, anything I need he’s there for me. I just want to get acclimated as fast as I can.”
 
Horford also said that head coach Brad Stevens has been extremely helpful in assisting him in speeding up his learning curve.
 
“Coach (Stevens) is very sharp, very . . .  he explains things well,” Horford said. “He explains things well. He wants practice to move along. The pace of practice, definitely a faster pace.”
 
But you won’t find Horford complaining.
 
Horford is clearly excited about starting this new chapter in his basketball career.
 
“For me it’s more of a relief, finally being here in Boston, house, being settled,” Horford said. “Now we can just focus on the season.”