- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOSTON -- No position may be more difficult to acclimate to than point guard because, a player is not just learning the responsibilities for one position on each play in a new playbook, he's being asked to know everyone's role. After joining the Boston Celtics on Monday, Carlos Arroyo immersed himself in the team's playbook, but coach Doc Rivers still did a double-take Wednesday when he heard Arroyo call a play the team hadn't even gone over with him yet.
"When he came down and called a play that we hadn't put in for him, but he knew the team ran it, I thought, 'Man, this guy -- he's pretty good,'" said Rivers. "Everybody else knew it on the floor, so he called it and I was shocked that he knew it."
Arroyo shrugged when asked about the surprise play call, suggesting he was playing solely off instincts in his Boston debut. Arroyo finished with four points on 2-of-3 shooting with three rebounds and two assists over 15 minutes in a 108-103 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
"I was just trying to do my job out there, stay aggressive, do what was right, and stay solid by making the right plays on offensive and on defense... It’s the first game, I’m excited to be out there, especially with such a great team like this. Hopefully, I can continue to grow and get better.”
Rivers dubbed Arroyo "phenomenal" for the way he guided a fresh-faced second unit (which featured three other newcomers and rookie Avery Bradley). And while he's the freshest of those faces, he confidently directed the offense, showing the poise of a nine-year veteran, while masking first-game jitters in his first game with a new team.
"It’s my job to control the tempo out there, get guys involved, get them in the right spots," said Arroyo. "I’m trying to learn the plays and hopefully by Friday, I’ll be much better. I'll have a better understanding of what we’re trying to do. I tried not to put a lot of pressure on myself as far as that, just take it day by day."
But he did have some butterflies.
"I've been very anxious, I can honestly say, since I signed with this team to get on the floor with the guys, get a feel of what we’re trying to do," said Arroyo. "I'm just glad the first game is out of the way."
Arroyo didn't just spend time as second-unit ball-handler, but also played the off-guard spot while sharing the floor with Rajon Rondo. His ability to handle the flames after being thrown directly into the fire left teammates effusive in their praise.
Said Kevin Garnett: "We've got a consolidator. We've got another guy who can be the floor general. Carlos has played in this league for a long time, for a lot of headstrong coaches, different programs, so he brings a sense of leadership. There's a lot of respect in our locker room for him, and we're glad to have him here."
Added Paul Pierce: "He’s a savvy point guard who has been around the block a few times. He’s got a lot of experience. As a point guard, you are automatically thrust into a leadership role because you are out there calling plays, at the top with the ball. He’s been on a number of playoff teams, where he has been in that position. It’s good for him to come in, even on a couple of days of practice, and play with a lot of confidence. That’s going to be big for us as he continues to learn the system and do the things that he can do."
12dKevin Pelton and Chad Ford