Leandro Barbosa is quickly hearing his name called more and more as of late. He is finally being properly utilized. He’s the definition of energy and instant offense. Never a play called, always ready, and instant buckets galore. Last night in the Boston Celtics 99-95 rally win over the new look Toronto Raptors, Barbosa led the comeback with 12 fourth quarter points.
Yup, that’s one point per minute. The Celtics opened up the final quarter with a big run that can be entirely attributed to Barbosa’s blurring buckets. He finished with 14 and a couple of key contributions and big steals on the defensive end showing that he can do more than hustle to the basket and throw in a trademark underhand Brazilian-soft-ball-style finger roll.
The “Blur” came out of the gate as the Celtics were down double digits and pretty much single handily propelled them to their fifth straight win. It’s obvious that Barbosa is truly proving his worth to this team and with a less crowded back-court in the absence of Rajon Rondo, he’s going to become an incredibly important piece to this team. He’s an extremely low maintenance player in the sense that all he really requires are two things: the ball, and a little room. He’s an enigmatic piece to a team that needs him to simply be himself, and that’s exactly what he’s doing so far.
The Celtics now have a weapon and a player with entirely unique attributes to infuse energy and put up double digits on any given night. For a team that offensively is still struggling to find their identity, Barbosa is the perfect player to have and he uses his minutes to their utmost potential.
He follows the Celtics game-plan and philosophy by also staying active on the defensive end and his individual defense numbers are starting to get noticed. For a guy that was dying for a chance to play and sitting at the end of the pine simply because he didn’t “fit” properly, it sure is a refreshing site to see him contributing in a huge way that simply cannot be ignored.
Barbosa was the final singing in the Celtics off-season, getting a minimum short term deal. It was a singing that raised a few eyebrows here and there simply because with four off-ball guards, there was little chance for him to get consistent playing time.
For a guy who’s used to being the first off the bench, it was an odd and confusing site to see him under-utilized while those paid more than him and presumably in front of him on the team’s overall depth chart, were struggling to make an impact. As each game passes, Danny Ainge is looking more and more like a genius as the Celtics now have a back-up plan when things go awry, and it’s called “The Barbosa plan.”