Three games ago, Celtics coach Brad Stevens decided to make a switch at the point guard position. The team’s experiment of having Avery Bradley play that role just wasn’t working out.
Bradley, a natural shooting guard, kept turning the ball over, with a team-high 15 miscues in the Celtics’ first four games, and the offense was stalled.
Stevens decided to have Jordan Crawford, another shooting guard, play the point. It was a move made mostly out of necessity, as the Celtics had no other options with Rajon Rondo sidelined, aside from playing untested rookie Phil Pressey.
Crawford has thrived at the point while being a calming influence over the Celtics, who upset the Heat in Miami Saturday, and have won three straight heading into Monday’s home game against Orlando.
Crawford, 25, who is averaging 10.6 points, has also helped settle down Bradley, whose play is much improved in the last three games, too.
“Not to take away from anybody else who might start with me, to have Jordan come out there, he kind of has a swagger to his game,” Bradley explained. “He feels like he’s better than everybody and to have someone that brings that energy every night, it makes you feel a lot more comfortable out there.”
Yet few might have expected Crawford, who has started each of the last three games and is tied for the team lead with 24 assists, to transition into the point guard role so well simply because of his reputation.
Crawford indeed has a supreme confidence, so much so that he once told the Washington Post that he believed he could be better than another Jordan — Michael Jordan.
Not everyone is a Crawford fan, for one reason or another. And counting a draft-night deal, he has been traded three times in three years, including to Boston last season, a move that ended his rocky tenure with the Wizards.
But just as the Celtics are starting over this season, so is Crawford. He has a chance to alter his reputation. And by playing point guard, he has also been able to prove he’s more than a scorer. (”He’s a better passer than people realize,” Stevens said in the preseason.)
“I’ll let people think what they think,” he said after scoring a season-high 15 points and adding four assists in the Celtics’ 111-110 win against Miami.
“I think that’s why people feel a certain way about me, because I don’t care what people think. I’m not out to prove nobody wrong. I’m out to just take advantage of the opportunity and further my career.
“I haven’t changed my game, really. I just have an opportunity. We’re winning some games, so people look at it differently.”
Stevens, who saw Crawford play plenty in college at Indiana and then at Xavier, has looked at the guard with fresh eyes.
“One of the things that I don’t want to do is necessarily say, ‘OK, if somebody has a reputation, fair or unfair, that I’m not going to give them the shot to show themselves to me,’ ” Stevens said. “He’s been nothing but great. I’ve said that since day one.”Baxter Holmes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BaxterHolmes.