Eddie House blew my mind this season. I didn’t expect much from him this past offseason when Danny hired Eddie but throughout the year he proved himself over and over again. He was one of Boston’s best eight players. He was a capable backup point. He did push the ball, he did play defense, he did help ball movement, he did hit big shots, he did provide a huge shooting and shot making threat, he did give the Celtics one of the better three point shooters in the league, he did play with an unbridaled passion, an energy, he did pump up his teammates and get more out of him.
Back when Sam Cassell was signed I said that their three things about these two guys: (1) They’re comparable in overall positive impact for the Celtics (2) They’re very different and effect the game in different ways. Not better, different. Sam is ball controlling playmaker. Eddie is role playing fill the holes very well kind of guy. (3) That Sam is more dynamic and capable of taking games over but Eddie is more consistently good.
Nothing that has happened has changed my evaluation of Eddie or Sam or what they offer to this team. Against Atlanta I wanted Eddie House to get the backup point minutes, I thought his energy, balls, shooting, defense, passing were the right antidote. There was also a lot to be said for the comfort levels of himself and his teammates when they were out on the court. Eddie was the guy here at training camp, he was the guy here when they were 29-3, he was the guy who developed that chemistry with all his teammates and was more responsible for their 66-16 record than Sammy. House had a comfort level with everyone and he was reliable. When times got tough, you knew what he was going to do and so did everyone of his teammates. He was the right man for the job.
Is he still the right man for the job? No
Maybe you get lucky but I don’t think you can expect it. I have two reasons with the first garnering the most importance by far.
- Eddie House has not played competitive minutes once in the playoffs. The last game where he played important minutes for a decent stretch was the final game of the season on April 16th. That’s 29 days ago and it wasn’t exactly the toughest night. Eddie didn’t play for a whole week prior to that game. So that’s once in the last month when he’s played game time minutes.Practice is all well and good but it’s absolutely not a replacement for games. You can’t get that level of match sharpness from a team practice. He’s only played once in over a month, he doesn’t have that sharpness.Eddie is a streak shooter and is cocky confident player but he’s been benched. He’s sat down behind Sam Cassell and Rondo for a month, you really expect his confidence to be the same as it was before he was benched? That’s a long shot in my book.
The playoffs are a whole different level of intensity and performance. Eddie hasn’t played, can he really get up to that level straight away? I don’t think so. I think he’ll need to be given time to get to that level and to get back his consistency.
Remember that while Eddie is a 8 year veteran with solid experience he’s never had a good performance in a playoff run. He has nothing to fall back on.
That reliability that Eddie offered early in the playoffs against Atlanta, does he really offer that anymore? No he does not. He hasn’t played in 29 days. His teammates haven’t played with him in 29 days. That comfort level is, at best, shaky. The simple truth is that nobody can expect that cohesion, that fluidity, that chemistry to resume at it’s previous high level. It’s simply been too long since he played competitive minutes and this series is being played at too high a level for Eddie to be slowly nurtured back into action without the Celtics being punished by Cleveland.
- This is a great series for Sam Cassell, he has a brilliant matchup to exploit. Neither of Cleveland’s point guards (Delonte or Gibson) will regularly attack him off the dribble, they’re simply not good enough at it to tear down the Cavs offense to try to exploit Sammy. On the other end neither of them can defend someone of Cassell’s size or post skills and neither of them have the smarts to defend Sammy. This is the single best matchup Sam Cassell is going to get in the 2008 Playoffs and it isn’t close.
Eddie House should not play, he should not be given his backup slot back, and Doc needs to keep his butt on the bench for the rest of the playoffs. It’s simply been too long since he played, it’s too a big of a risk to insert him now.