Rivers: Daniels is key to us winning


By Jessica Camerato

WALTHAM - Last season the Boston Celtics turned to Tony Allen to shut down LeBron James and Dwyane Wade during the playoffs.

When James and Wade joined forces on the Miami Heat, the question arose, ''How will the Celtics defend both players on the court at the same time?''

And when Tony Allen signed with the Memphis Grizzlies shortly thereafter, the question arose, "Who will defend James and Wade?"

The answer is, there is no answer right now. Doc Rivers told CSNNE.com he doesnt know if the Celtics have "that guy" yet, but he has someone in mind to help fill that role as the C's battle the Heat on Opening Night.

While Paul Pierce and Ray Allen will take on James and Wade in the first unit, Rivers believes Marquis Daniels could make an impact defensively off the bench -- one that goes beyond Opening Night.

"He's huge. Marquis is key to us winning this year," Rivers said. "The better he plays, the better our team will be because it makes our bench better."

Daniels is eager to live up to his coach's praise. After missing the majority of last season (his first with the Celtics) due to injuries, Daniels feels he can be a serious contributor this time around.

"I thank Doc for thinking highly of me," he told CSNNE.com. "I've just got to come in and prove him right, just go out there and do everything he asks me to do."

If that means locking down on James or Wade on Tuesday night, Daniels is up for the challenge. His plan of attack -- play aggressive basketball by making them work on both ends of the court.

"I try to take them out of their comfort zone," he explained. "There's not much they can't do, but you've got to make them do stuff they're not accustomed to doing. You know they get to the basket, so I try to get them to shoot more contested, harder shots. Just make it challenging for them."

Daniels was lauded for his defense before he signed with the Celtics in 2009, but his full potential was never achieved last season. When he was healthy enough to play, he struggled with inconsistencies. Daniels was determined to change that this summer.

So far he has impressed with his improvements on the offensive end. Now that he is injury-free, Daniels believes he has a lot to showcase on the defensive end as well.

"I'm a solid defensive player," he said. "I use my length, I use my strength, and I try to make it tough for guys, no matter what it is. I've got to challenge the ball, pressure all shots. I've just got to go out there and be a pest."

Daniels could get his first shot on Opening Night.

"He's been great," said Rivers. "So he's got to keep it going."

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comJCameratoNBA.

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