The Boston Celtics seemed to be losing life, dead in the water yet again as TD Garden became quiet. Another blown fourth seemed to be on the horizon. But then Josh Richardson did a dance on Torrey Craig for his signature midrange to keep it a one-possession game with less than a minute to go.
Calling out coverages with emotions on his face, eager to win, his fit in Boston seems to only be becoming more likable.
Is it time for the Boston Celtics to start Josh Richardson?
Now averaging over 10 points per game and shooting over 40 percent from deep, Celtics president Brad Stevens seemed to have had the right idea when he acquired the former Tennessee Volunteer:
"“I think that Josh (Richardson) brings a great grit, an edge, he can defend several positions. I think that last year was a little bit of an anomaly in how he shot the ball. He has always been a good shooter and our numbers would say that when he gets the open opportunities, he is better obviously than how he shot last year, but he wants to win.” – Brad Stevens explaining his team this past summer."
The theory of his outside shooting may have been uncertain considering his woeful 33 percent from three last season in Dallas. However, in his 29 contests, J-Rich has continued to improve and get comfortable with his game in green.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have shown that they could use more consistent perimeter help at the two with guys like Dennis Schröder, Aaron Nesmith, and Romeo Langford failing to do so.
Al Horford has been unable to meet needs in crunch time as well on the offensive end for Boston. The team’s first matchup of the season against the Pacers showed glimpses of the lineup that could be.
So, why not place Richardson with the first unit?
Should the Boston Celtics start Josh Richardson?: Steadily Finding the Groove
In Richardson’s last 10 games, he is averaging 13 points, two rebounds, and a steal while shooting 44 percent from the field and 50 percent from three.
Entering his seventh season, he has never failed to provide elite-level defense with the capabilities of chasing and blocking shots. But it has always been about consistent offense for J-Rich.
“I think I can be a floor-spacer down the stretch,” said Richardson following their blowout win versus New York. “Teams will be shrinking onto two guys, that we know and we got to be able to knock those shots down and I think I could help with that.”
Should the Boston Celtics start Josh Richardson?: Experience down the stretch
Richardson’s postseason numbers may not be the greatest career-wise, but the NBA bubble would be a prime example of where his confidence comes from.
Richardson averaged 14 points while shooting 39 percent from three in those 11 games. In fact, four of them were playoff contests. As a member of the 76ers in that series against Boston, J-Rich put up 16 a night and shot 35 percent from three.
The Celtics are 24th in the NBA in three-point percentage and 16th in threes made. Assuming the team will be active on the phones as the Feb. 10 trade deadline approaches, regardless of what happens, Richardson can continue to be a nice x-factor for Boston.
Ideally, he can compliment Tatum and Brown the way Gordon Hayward briefly had and how Evan Fournier was supposed to.
“Winning is really important to him,” Stevens said. “The way he separated himself when he joined the league with being a mid-second round pick was he showed his competitive character out of the gate.”