He’s been so quiet, you almost forget it’s the Stephon Marbury. The one with the baggage and the head tattoo. The one who drew media hordes to his locker for years when he was on the Knicks.
Since joining the Celtics, he’s barely let out a peep.
Marbury made his noise on the court tonight, going 4 of 5 and scoring all of his 12 points in the fourth quarter as the Celtics came back from a 14-point deficit to win Game 5 against the Magic. Playing in place of place of Rajon Rondo, Marbury actually outperformed his team’s starting point guard during a crucial stretch in the game.
“He’s been great for us,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “He just hangs in there, keeps working every day. He’s been very patient. This is tough for him.”
Tough is an apt description for Marbury’s playoff run before Game 5. The backup averaged just 3.3 points and 1.9 assists in just under 12 minutes per game before Tuesday. His lackluster play made him an afterthought and a fixture on the bench, a far cry from the player with career averages of 19.3 points and 7.6 assists per game.
He changed all of that in a 6:33 stint in the fourth quarter.
“It felt good,” said Marbury. “The timing was right. Everything was right for me to do what I did to help us win the basketball game.”
Rivers has said for months he thought Marbury could help the Celtics win a game at some point, but his predication had not fully come to fruition until Tuesday night.
“Everybody knows what type of player Steph is when he’s on,” said Celtics captain Paul Pierce. “He showed a lot of that tonight. You have to understand he’s been put in a tough situation. Doc has asked him to come in and play limited minutes. The times he does play he’s come in and given us a spark… We believe in him. That’s why we picked him up.”
Marbury admitted the transition to the Celtics has been “very difficult”, but he really has been a good soldier in his time here. Before tonight, the most publicity Marbury caused was when he first signed with the team. Not once has Marbury publicly complained about playing time since coming to Boston.
“I’m playing basketball,” said Marbury. “For me, that’s enough.”