The more Doc Rivers sees Darko Milicic, the more he appreciates the talents of the Serbian center.
Milicic had nine rebounds and four blocked shots in 19 minutes Sunday against Olimpia Milano. He also had three assists, and often kept the second unit in a flow.
“He’s been phenomenal, with his defense and passing,” said Rivers. “We were really using him as a point guard on the floor with that second unit, because we didn’t have a real point guard on the floor. He’s been wonderful.”
I’m pretty sure the words ‘Darko’ and ‘phenomenal’ haven’t been used in the same sentence since 2004.
But we all know what Doc is doing. He’s playing that build-up-his-confidence game, again.
After watching Darko for the first time on Friday, I thought… he’s not that bad. He’s actually a capable basketball player. His reputation is so awful, I almost expected him to turn the ball over on every possession.
ESPN Boston’s Greg Payne has a good analysis of Darko’s play on Sunday:
Playing in the second and fourth quarters, Milicic seemed to embrace his hefty 7-foot frame on Sunday, utilizing his considerable size in every area he was able to find success. He used it to block shots, to reach rebounds ahead of the opposition, and he used it on the high post — the spot on the floor the Celtics have stuck him at most through two preseason games. C’s head coach Doc Rivers understands that he has a capable passer in Milicic, which is why he’s so willing to line him up at either one of the elbows, where he receives an entry pass and allows the action to develop around him. A quick kickout pass can lead to an open look for a teammate, or allow Milicic to re-position himself to set a bulky screen to free up one of Boston’s perimeter players.
Screen setting was the quietest part of Milicic’s production on Sunday. Boston’s equipped with a versatile collection of offensive players, all of which can benefit from having an open lane or open floor space to create their offense. Consider the 5:06mark of the second quarter, when Jason Terry simply ducked behind Milicic’s frame to open up enough space to fire off a 3-pointer, or the 4:24 mark when Courtney Lee charged to the basket on the left side only once his man was shaken by a Milicic screen.
Nothing flashy, just steady play. Brace yourself haters, Darko might actually have a positive impact on the 2012-13 Celtics.
One other note, WEEI’s Paul Flannery has a good blog post breaking down the differences between Jared Sullinger and Glen Davis.
The rest of the links:
ESPN Boston – Sullinger starts strong | Globe – Celtics experience success, adversity | Herald – European Union: Celtics hope trip stirs up winning | Milano coach can dream of green | CSNNE – Terry shows worth just being on court | Garnett plays name game with rookies