Integrating Nate


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It’s no secret Nate Robinson’s kind of a character.

There’s the dunk contest theatrics, the ice cold relationship with his former coach Mike D’Antoni, that time he got pulled over by a police officer and tweeted while he was getting a ticket, and that fight way back when with the Nuggets, where he was the little guy hyping the whole thing up.

It’s hard to believe his personality won’t stick out in the Celtics’ locker room. But with his likely debut tomorrow against the Knicks, the Celtics are trying to make sure he fits in quickly and easily on the court and off of it.

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Glen Davis, whose personality’s so big he needs two nicknames, said “It’s easy to fall in because we have a lot of veterans. You
can’t go south on our team. You have to go by the guidelines or you won’t play.
Nate’s a great guy. He’ll catch on and fall in and do his part.”

What Doc Rivers and Nate Robinson will go through today at the Celtics practice facility essentially amounts to a crash course. Since the Celtics traded Eddie House for him at the deadline, Robinson’s recovered from the flu and sort of lived in the gym, at least according to Twitter.

It’s hard to set expectations for him though. The Celtics have to incorporate Robinson into a new system — one that’s obviously different from Mike D’Antoni’s “Seven Seconds or Less” philosophy and one that’s taken Marquis Daniels and Rasheed Wallace time to get a complete hold of.

“We’re just going to wind him up, push him out on the floor and let him go,” Rivers said. “Right now we just can’t worry about trying to integrate him in our stuff. There’s just not enough time right now. We don’t have a lot of practices coming up. So when he’s in, it’s just going to be simple offense. Defensively, that’s where we’re going to integrate him the most. Offensively, it’s going to take some time.”

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The Celtics have to integrate him at a point when the Celtics bench is playing as consistently as it has in a while, averaging 30 points a night on the Celtics four-game West Coast trip. Glen Davis hit the boards hard, Rasheed Wallace is drifting toward the paint more, backing defenders down and spinning off them, Marquis Daniels just had his best game since returning from his thumb injury.

The argument’s been made that in Robinson, the Celtics are getting what they assumed they would get out of Stephon Marbury last year, an explosive and creative scorer off the bench. But adding him to the mix for the final leg of the season makes Robinson an X-factor.

“When you see Nate and what he brings – energy and the fact that he get buckets and create offense for himself – he’s very active,” said Kevin Garnett. “I don’t think we’ve ever had had guy with the speed of Rondo in addition to, meaning that he can pick up full court, get steals, be active. So I’m really really excited to see the duo and see how it works.

“We’re going to embrace Nate with open arms, obviously he’s going to have to get our system and everything but I think everybody’s excited to see him added on to our team and see what he brings.”

Then there’s a matter of making sure his motives line up with everyone else’s. Gary Washburn wrote a while back that Robinson gets a $1 million bonus for being on a playoff team, and that the Lakers and Celtics were his top choice. Now, he has to make his top priority a title run.

“It’s going to take all of us,” Ray Allen said. “We’ve got to make sure that we welcome him. We’ve got to make sure that he’s comfortable whether it’s on court or off the court. He’s who we need. He’s what we’ve got in this locker room. There’s nobody else coming and we want to go deep in the playoffs. So the better he plays the better we are as a team.”