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Monday, November 8, 2010
Playbook: C's thrive with 45

By Chris Forsberg

The Celtics were nursing a two-point lead entering the final minute of the first quarter Monday night in Oklahoma City, but utilizing one of the team's simpler sets, Nate Robinson helped Boston generate five points that capped a 12-4 burst to end the frame and put the Celtics out front to stay.

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It's a play called "45" and it's name isn't hard to decipher. With a point guard dribbling up top, the two wings bury themselves in the corner, spreading the floor. Power forward Glen Davis (the 4) comes towards center Semih Erden (the 5) giving the appearance he's setting a pick to free Erden, but both players then rush out to the top of the key to set a double pick on the point guard's defender (with their own defenders chasing through the paint).

Robinson gets to pick which way he wants to come off the double-pick, with his preference likely being whichever side the opposing big is lower on. In the first instance that Boston ran the play, Cole Aldrich is caught sinking too low to prevent the drive and Robinson pulls up and buries a 15-foot jumper from the left elbow for a 25-21 lead.

After Eric Maynor missed at the other end, the Celtics got the ball back for a final-possession opportunity and Celtics coach Doc Rivers barely tried to disguise what was coming, shouting for Robinson to run 45 again to the opposite side. After dribbling out the clock, Davis and Erden converge again and apply the double-pick to defender Russell Westbrook. This time Robinson jabs to the left as if he's going the same way before spinning back to the right and going off the Davis pick.

The Thunder actually defend pretty well with the bigs sliding to prevent Robinson from pulling up at the right elbow. Both the wings shuffle up a bit in case their defenders go to help and Marquis Daniels actually pops open for a potential 3-pointer, but Robinson cuts back into the lane as Erden rolls to the basket. When Erden comes open in the circle, Robinson delivers a bounce pass that results in a layup and the foul.

After the game, Rivers suggested they might have found a new favorite to run with Robinson, who has struggled at times as the primary ball-handler with the second unit, often conflicted about when to pass and shoot. Utilizing 45, he thrived in both roles and keyed the first of two bench-led runs.

"We got a good flow for [Robinson]," said Rivers. "I gotta figure out, and I’m still trying, what works for him offensively, where he can be aggressive and still find guys. We came on that 45 play -- that’s the double pick-and-roll -- where he can come off and get room for his shot and, if not, Baby’s open. And he ran it well. Maybe we found something, and now we can figure out one or two more sets for Nate. That would be terrific."