At last, Eddie is steadied
HARTFORD - Eddie has found a home.
I mean, really. It was getting ridiculous. After spending his first three years in Miami, Eddie House hit the road, playing for six teams in four years, always good enough to be wanted but never good enough to be considered indispensable.
And it would be an exaggeration to say that he is indispensable. But he is beginning his third year as a Boston Celtic for the very simple reason that he is a specialist who knows exactly who he is and who he isn’t, and that clearly appeals to Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers.
“Boy, he can shoot, and he scares the hell out of other teams,’’ declares Rivers. “He used to scare the hell out of me when I was coaching elsewhere. I kid him that he’s on the All-Scare Team.’’
There are no secrets with Eddie. Mr. House doesn’t enter the game seeking to assess the game temperature or flow or tempo, or any of that stuff. When Eddie comes into the game, the ball is going up.
“He knows his role,’’ says Rivers, “and his teammates know his role. They do whatever they can to free him up.’’
Eddie House is a proven jump shooter. Everyone in the league knows that. But there is a second reason that helps explain why Eddie House’s nationwide perambulations (Miami to Los Angeles (Clippers) to Charlotte to Milwaukee to Sacramento to Phoenix to New Jersey) finally ceased when he came to Boston.
Danny Ainge is a paid-up member of his fan club.
“First of all, I fell in love with Eddie when he was in college,’’ Ainge says. It seems that Eddie House was playing for Arizona State while Danny was playing and coaching in Phoenix. “I watched him play at Arizona State. He’s definitely a guy I’d pay to watch play. And I followed his NBA career closely.’’
“I knew he was at a lot of our games,’’ says House, who had 11 points and 4 assists in Boston’s 106-90 exhibition dispatch of the Toronto Raptors at the XL Center last night. “He used to sit courtside. I’d see him and it would inspire me. I’d say, ‘Man, if he’s here to see me, maybe I can play in the league.’ ’’
Eddie House is not a great player. He is a great shooter. He has never averaged 10 points a game, in part because he has never averaged 20 minutes a game. He’s a 6-foot-1-inch shooting guard masquerading, on occasion, as a point guard. His job is to enter the game and change it with long-range jumpers, almost every one of which is fired up from about 2 feet in front of the 3-point arc to 2 feet behind it.
He just happens to be very good at it. Last year, for example, he shot .444 from the 3-point line, or .001 lower than his overall average. The Celtics would gladly take that again.
“He’s a scary shooter,’’ Ainge says (no, he and Doc did not compare notes). “Eddie can shoot as well as anybody in the game. He’s right there with a Ray Allen, that kind of guy. But he’s not as big, so he doesn’t get his shot off as easily. But no one has a quicker trigger.’’
Eddie’s technique is something young players should study.
“He’s very sound technically,’’ says Ainge, who knows a thing or two about shooting. “He has a very consistent rotation. The ball comes off his hand very consistently.
“He’s also what I call a ‘hop shooter,’ ’’ Ainge continues. “There aren’t very many ‘hop shooters.’ By that I mean he jumps off the floor with both feet. Most guys are what I call a ‘step-step’ shooter. But he hops into it. The last really good hop shooter I remember was Ricky Pierce.’’
All this was evident in his other stops, for sure. But there appears to be a particular resonance on this team. I guess that’s what they mean by a “fit.’’
Perhaps it’s because, as much as he is framed as a shooter, Eddie House isn’t one-dimensional. The Celtics do appreciate other things about him.
It really goes back to draft day. The entire basketball world knew Eddie House could score. The man had 61 in an NCAA game, after all. But because he’s 6-1, and not really a point guard, people didn’t know what to do with him.
“It’s what we do in this business,’’ Ainge explains. “We focus on what people can’t do instead of what they can do.’’
“He’ll never make the All-Defense Team,’’ says Rivers. “But he plays hard all the time. He competes. He fits for us. He clearly understands what he has to do to stay on the floor.’’
“I do think I bring more to a team than just being a shooter,’’ House says. “I’m not the passer [Rajon] Rondo is, but I can pass the ball. I’m not the defender Rondo is, but I can get my hands on the ball and disrupt things. And being with a team now for a third year means I know what we’re trying to do out there. That’s half the battle.’’
Championship teams need stars, first and foremost, but they also need intelligent, skilled, and experienced role players. Eddie House has already helped his team win one title. A second would not be out of the question.