Leandro joined the Boston Celtics in a very under-the-radar signing, right before the 2012-13 season commenced. He was merely picked up as an insurance policy to cover the backup minutes whilst Avery Bradley was out, and to serve as a 5th guard in a loaded backcourt upon AB’s return. With previous seasons of low production, and his 6th Man of the Year Award a distant memory, the media and fans were not sure how he would fit into a what was then a loaded roster. I was only happy we signed him because the Lakers were after him as well, and I was just happy to get in their way.
As the season progressed however, he proved his importance to our team in a short timeframe, only to go down with a torn ACL before the All-Star break.
It didn’t take us long to see Leandro turn into the “Brazilian Blur”. On opening night, he single-handedly turned a Miami blow-out into a contest, dropping 16 points all in the fourth quarter while only missing 2 shots. His season averages weren’t mind-blowing by any stretch of the imagination (5.2 points & 1.4 assists), but he did give the Celtics an offensive spark off the bench on many nights where the team looked old and ragged. He also dazzled the crowd with a number of high-difficulty trick shots that left his defenders scratching their heads.
He received his big opportunity once Rondo went down with his season-ending knee injury, which opened up a spot in the regular rotation. Barbosa did not disappoint, averaging 8.7 points, 2.7 assists in just under 22 minutes in the 7 games after that. He was a big reason why the Celtics rallied to win 7 games in a row directly after Rondo went out. On the 8th game however…
The Brazilian Blur tore his ACL to end his season, adding further insult to injury after losing both Rondo and Sullinger in a two-week span. This effectively was the straw that broke the camel’s back for an already depleted Celtics team.
Prior to Rondo’s injury, and Barbosa’s subsequent rise, he was playing very inconsistent basketball averaging a measly 1.3 points in the month of January, failing to score in double digits once. His erratic play, and questionable shot selection at times pushed him out of the regular rotation temporarily. His lack of minutes lead to reports by ESPN Brazil that Barbosa wanted out of Boston due to a lack of playing time (all of which he denied at the time).
Barbosa struggled during the season at times because of inconsistent court time, and seemingly, lack of offensive freedom. With Rondo in the line up, Barbosa was forced to play off the ball much more even though he is much more effective with the ball in his hands. Doc encouraged Barbosa to be more aggressive in his play offensively. To create shots for himself and others, but, forcing wild shots and disrupting the offense at times ultimately sent him to the bench.
After his minutes spiked from the Rondo injury, he enjoyed a lot more offensive freedom and regular minutes, showing much more consistency in his play. Just as the Celtics relied on him more and more, his body unfortunately failed him.
We wish him the best of luck for his recovery and for the next seeason.
How do you think Leandro Barbosa played in last season of 2012/2013? Leave your comments below.