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Marbury Era: Day 1

Well, the debut of Stephon Marbury in green has come and gone, and most people seem pretty happy with it.

Peter May called it an “impressive debut” considering the layoff, Bob Ryan is on board though skeptical and the Herald guys essentially give Steph’s debut a thumbs up.

Here are some random thoughts on Steph and last night’s game in general:

• Did anyone else feel that the whole night was sort of…unbecoming of the Celtics? The introductory press conference, the standing ovation, Marbury high-fiving children and grinning, the over-cheering at every positive thing Marbury did.

For the defending NBA champions (and the greatest franchise in sports), everything felt a bit desperate last night. (And I agree with Bob Ryan that there is some desperation here. Ryan’s response to Danny Ainge’s statement that the team didn’t feel the need to make a move: “I don’t believe that, and neither does anyone else in the league”).

I’d rather have seen Steph say “no thanks” to the press conference (was it mandatory?), ditch the high-fives and come into the game with a straight face. I want him treated like — and behaving like — any other fringe player competing for a roster spot and playing time.

As you’ll see below, I think Steph can help this team win, and his play showed no me-first tendencies. Admittedly, I get too caught up in image and perception of the franchise. But I was uneasy with the adulation and pomp last night.

I believe in redemption and comebacks and all, but it’s not as if Steph is coming back from a bad injury or a personal problem. He’s basically coming back from being an idiot. The whole night just felt strange to me. Am I alone in this? Yes? Ok, then.

• It is undeniable that Marbury can be a transformative force off the bench for 12-15 minutes per game. The second unit looked completely different with a competent point guard–we haven’t seen a crisp, accurate pick-and-roll pass from the bench mob all season like the one Marbury delivered to Powe in the second quarter.

• My favorite quote of Steph’s early Celtic career: “Defense. They play defense. It’s the only thing they talk about.” He almost seems shocked that a team could be so obsessed with defense. As for Marbury’s defense, we got what we are going to get from him–a so-so performance. He tried hard, though. He looked eager to fit in with the team’s defense-first mentality.

• Doc proved willing to experiment with a small line-up featuring Marbury and House in the back court and Ray Allen as the nominal small forward–and it worked during that nice early stretch in the fourth, when the C’s opened up a 92-79 lead.

To some extent, though, that’s easy to do against a Pacers team playing small without Dunleavy and Granger. It will be interesting to watch how Doc continues to tinker with small lineups and new combinations–especially considering he’s got 20 games to find out how Marbury fits with this team. And KG will only play in half those games, and Tony Allen may not play in any of them.

This is going to be the coaching staff’s biggest test of the season, and it’s one that makes me nervous. Integrating a piece as significant as Marbury this late is difficult, and it’s doubly difficult when two or your rotation guys can only begin their own Steph-integration process at the last minute.

• Kudos to Glen Davis for a nice, diverse offensive game last night, as pointed out by Brian Robb. Allow me to play Debbie Downer: Two rebounds? Two rebounds in 25 minutes of play? Glen Davis is a bad rebounder. His defensive rebounding percentage is about 13 percent, and that’s terrible for a power forward. (Powe’s, for instance, is about 19 percent). The Pacers killed the C’s on the offensive glass last night, and while some of that can be chalked up to luck (T.J. Ford grabbed five ORBs, suggesting he was in the right place a few times), a bit of the blame has to go to Baby.