Rivers confident new pieces will find their rhythm

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Rivers confident new pieces will find their rhythm

The main core of the Boston Celtics remained intact this offseason, but the surrounding pieces are new and it has taken Doc Rivers group time to find their rhythm.

But Rivers knows it will come soon enough.

Offseason acquisition Courtney Lee started the first five games at shooting guard for the Celtics, but Rivers switched things up and went with Jason Terry on Saturday night against the Bucks. Terry will get the start again Monday night against the Bulls, a move Rivers said will get his team closer to staying consistent throughout the game.

Were still just trying to figure out a way where we can play 48 solid straight minutes, and maybe thats not gonna happen right away, but its coming, Rivers said. I do feel like, as a team, and I dont know it has anything to do with whos on the floor or the rotation or anything like that, I think were just starting to figure it out and get it.

Defensively were late on a lot of the stuff we should be there on, but you can see the guys, theyre thinking about it now, and now I guess the next step is doing it. I think offensively we moved the ball, in the second half was terrific. But thats only one half, and so again were just trying to complete a game, a full game.

Terry and Lee were brought in this summer to replace Ray Allen, who signed with Miami as a free agent. The NBAs all-time leading 3-point shooter had been with Boston the last five seasons, and averaged 16.7 points and 2.2 3-pointers per game in that span.

With Allen gone, the replacements have struggled to match that productivity. Lee has averaged just 5.0 points in more than 25 minutes per game. Terry seems to be finding his touch with a 14.6 point-per-game average over the last three games, which has an uptick in minutes closer to a starters.

But while the Celtics chemistry at shooting guard continues to mesh, another concern is who spells Rajon Rondo on the second unit.

Neither Terry nor Lee are true point guards, and with Avery Bradley -- a true shooting guard but a player Rivers trusts to run Bostons offense -- sidelined until December, Rondo has no real backup. He currently leads the league in minutes per game (41.2) but Rivers realizes that trend cannot continue if he wants his All-Star floor general healthy down the stretch.

"Weve basically got one point guard, and its Rajon Rondo, Rivers said. Hes a pretty good one, but he cant play all game. And so what were trying to run is a lot of motion stuff where anyone can bring it up, but weve got to get someone to bring it up.

Rivers even noted that in Saturdays game against Milwaukee, with Rondo on the bench all five Celtics players started running down-court after a made basket, with no one taking the inbounds to bring the ball up.

It takes time. Thats part of team-building, guys. It just doesnt happen overnight. I wish it did, but theyll buy in, Rivers added. I think we have a good group and they all want to figure it out, individually first and then as a team. But I think theyre trying.

As questions about his future remain, David Accam is in his best run with the Fire

As questions about his future remain, David Accam is in his best run with the Fire

For the past two seasons, David Accam was a bright spot on bad Chicago Fire teams.

This season, with more talent on the roster, Accam has blossomed into one of the most dangerous players in the league.

He had a hat trick and an assist in Saturday’s 4-0 win against Orlando. That gives him 10 goals and six assists on the season. Only two other players in Major League Soccer have 16 combined goals and assists, New York City FC's David Villa and teammate Nemanja Nikolic (the leading goal-scorer in the league).

“I thought I could do anything on the pitch today,” Accam said. “I just wanted to enjoy myself and entertain the fans and also help the team win. That’s what we did today, especially after my first goal. I just thought I could get more goals and also help the team win.”

Accam’s big game comes after he sat out the previous two games, which were both played on turf. He wasn’t listed on the injury report, but coach Veljko Paunovic said, “he didn’t recover from the physical issues that he had in the previous game.”

The rest seemed to do Accam some good, but his success in the game (as well as his recent run of eight goals and four assists in his last eight matches) coincides with questions about his future. He was recently rumored to be the target of a Turkish club.

In the past, Accam has spoken about his ambition to play at the highest levels. Typically, that means Europe. General manager Nelson Rodriguez said last month that he expects offers to come in for the 26-year-old because he is a good player in his prime ages.

So is Accam playing like someone trying to earn a new contract? That could be either impressing potential suitors in Europe or boosting his negotiation position with the Fire. Rodriguez has talked about contract negotiations with Accam before, and said those will not resume again until after the season.

“I wanted to be in a team where I would develop as a person and also win trophies, whether here or somewhere (else) I don’t know,” Accam said. “For me, I’m doing really well here and every year if I keep playing well there will be always interest. I know there is a lot of interest because I’m doing well. For me it’s always extra motivation to keep doing well. You don’t know where I will end up, whether here or somewhere else. I’ll just keep playing.”

Accam’s play earned him another call-up to the Ghanaian national team. He will join the team on Sunday for a pair of friendlies in the U.S. The Black Stars will take on Mexico in Houston on June 28 and the U.S. in East Hartford, Conn., on July 1 as the two North American countries prepare for the Gold Cup.

“That’s where I want to be,” Accam said. “I want to be playing for the national team so it’s extra motivation for me to perform well and also to go to the national team.”

Accam has been one of the most productive players in MLS this year, based on goals and assists, and is young enough to draw the attention of plenty of teams. For now, the Fire have him as a key part of the best season the club has had in years.

“I think that he understands very well how to play with the team that we have now and with the teammates that he is surrounded with,” coach Veljko Paunovic said. “We just have to work to give David opportunities… Then we expect that performances like that will come even more.”

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