E’Twaun Moore a Pleasant Surprise in Backcourt for Depleted Celtics

E'Twaun Moore a Pleasant Surprise in Backcourt for Depleted CelticsIs he the cure to what ails Boston?

No, not nearly. But rookie guard E’Twaun Moore is at least proving himself deserving of some extra playing time.

After starting the season a miserable 9-of-37 from the floor, the Purdue alum ripped off a breakout performance Thursday night in Orlando, drilling four of four 3-pointers to lead Boston to a 27-point comeback — the signature moment thus far of the Celtics’ lackluster season. 

“One thing I told him was to come up with a routine and stick to it,” Ray Allen said after the game.

It’s working. Since then, the 6-foot-4 guard has been résumé-building, averaging eight points on 60 percent shooting in Boston’s last three outings. He crashes the boards, takes care of the ball (two turnovers in those three games) and has the quickness to get into the paint and make plays. 

And unlike many rookies, the Indiana native is already 22 years old. Moore plays like he belongs on an NBA floor.

“He’s a cocky little kid — in a good way,” coach Doc Rivers said after Moore’s outing against Orlando. “And that’s good. He has great confidence. He took some big shots. I thought the biggest play for him was, in transition, he didn’t wait. He took it off the dribble and went to the basket. You don’t see that from a young guy. Usually they play cautious, and he didn’t. That was huge.”

That development, along with the growth of second-year guard Avery Bradley, has boosted a second unit that’s needed to come up big in the absence of Rajon Rondo (wrist) and Ray Allen, who missed three games with an ankle injury. Bradley’s offensive output is anemic (37 percent shooting), but he has proven a pest on defense — perhaps he is even a top-tier perimeter defender in the making. And Moore, while not as disciplined on defense as Bradley, has consistently shown a willingness to hustle and get into the passing lanes.

Neither of them is elite. And they’re certainly not enough to make Boston a title contender again. (That would take a breakthrough in the science of age reversal for Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.) But they have been a large part of the team’s recent 4-1 run and will undoubtedly help ensure a spot in the postseason.

Moore, for his part, is hoping Rivers keeps coming back to him.

“I’m always confident. As long as I go in the gym and work on my game, I’m confident in what I can do on the court,” he said. “So even if things are not going for me, I always stay positive and keep working.”

Yardbarker

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