The catalyst? Eddie House.
Though House is now watching the Finals from his house as a member of the New York Knicks, one still can’t help but see a little bit of the Eddie magic in Nate Robinson, whom House was dealt for prior to the Feb. 19 trade deadline.
Many Celtics fans were skeptical of GM Danny Ainge’s decision to deal the beloved House for the seemingly intolerable Robinson. After all, House had proven his value, fit in with the rest of the team and could do little wrong in the eyes of Celtics fans still appreciating his contributions toward their 2008 championship.
As the Celtics staggered toward the finish line and closed out the regular season with a 27-27 stretch, the trade seemed to have little to no positive impact on the team.
Robinson then appeared in only six of the Celtics’ 11 games versus the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers in the first two rounds of the playoffs, totaling 18 points, most of which came during garbage time.
At that point, one couldn’t help but ask why the February deal was made if Robinson was only going to be used sparingly throughout the regular season and in the playoffs.
If you think back to 2008, though, the situation is similar to that faced by House.
House scored only three points on 1-of-7 shooting in the Celtics’ first-round series with the Atlanta Hawks, and it wasn’t until Game 3 of the NBA Finals that he began to see any consistency in terms of significant playing time.
But when called upon, House answered the bell, which is exactly what Robinson is doing this postseason.
House entered Game 3 of the 2008 Finals and dropped six points in over 19 minutes, the most time he had logged in a single postseason game with the Celtics up to that point. While the Celtics eventually lost the game, 87-81, it was clear that head coach Doc Rivers was leaning toward increasing House’s minutes as the series progressed.
Then came Game 4.
House scored 11 points in over 24 minutes on 4-for-9 shooting (2-for-4 from 3-point range), but more importantly brought instant energy and allowed the Celtics to stretch the floor as they rallied from a 24-point deficit to win.
Robinson’s rise to postseason prominence? Eerily similar.
The 26-year-old guard burst onto the scene in Game 6 of the Conference finals with a 13-point barrage to help the Celtics close out the Orlando Magic.
Just as Doc did two years ago, he has stuck with the hot hand, and the results have been comparable, culminating with Robinson’s Game 4 heroics.
That’s right, Game 4, the same one that House took over two years ago in the ’08 Finals.
While no 24-point deficit was erased this time around, Robinson’s line is Eddie-esque. Robinson scored 12 points in 16:50, shooting 4-for-8 from the field and 2-for-4 from beyond the arc.
But more importantly, Robinson provided that instant energy that was a staple in House’s game and that Celtics fans feared they would lack in the post-House era.
While no one can ever take away what Eddie House meant to the Celtics in 2008, it is time to stand up and take notice of what the Celtics’ new spark plug is doing this time around.