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Robb: Gigi Datome Opens Up About His Success With Celtics

BOSTON (CBS) – There have been a lot of role players on the Celtics over the years that have developed a loyal following at the TD Garden. However, few have received the admiration of Celtics fans as quickly as Italian forward Gigi Datome.

After being glued to the bench in Detroit, Brad Stevens has given the 6-foot-8 sharpshooter a chance to make an impact upon his arrival with Jonas Jerebko in Boston and Gigi has taken advantage. He's only playing 10 minutes per game, but is shooting a scorching 47.2 percent from 3-point range, while providing the Celtics with some instant offense upon entering most contests. That kind of play has earned Datome plenty of buzz around TD Garden, with frequent chants for "Gigi" whenever he enters the game.

In the regular season finale against the Bucks, Datome scored a career-high 22 points in 27 minutes, and he is poised to be a potential scoring weapon off the bench in the upcoming series against the Cavaliers. CBSBostonSports.com caught up with Datome to talk about his time so far in Boston, the fan support and what lies ahead.

CBS Boston: You've gained quite a following already since arriving in Boston…what has that been like, experiencing the fan support? Has it surprised you?

Gigi Datome: I'm a big social media guy so a lot of people reach out to me on there. It's nice to feel the love from the fans, especially because the team is winning so everyone is feeling high. They are helping us on this playoff push. It's a nice situation.

CBS Boston: What did you expect from a playing standpoint when you were traded to the Celtics?

Gigi Datome: I didn't talk with anyone, so Coach didn't talk about my position and my minutes when I got here. He just told me to do my best and give energy like all coach asks. I had no expectations, but then it turned the right way for the team and for me as well. I'm in the rotation and that was my goal at the beginning of the season. It's nice to hear these fans are excited.

CBS Boston: You had only played three games this season for the Pistons prior to your arrival in Boston and you were in and out of the rotation last year as well…how challenging as a whole has the transition been to the NBA?

Gigi Datome: I mean, from the beginning, I knew it wasn't going to be easy. I said from the beginning, I would face the tough moment with a smile, hard work, and patience. It was a lot of time and patience, so for sure, it was frustrating. The NBA is nice and our life is great. We are lucky, but I'm a basketball player and I love to play. So when the trade happened, I was satisfied. Not because I knew I would be playing, but because there would be an opportunity and I was starting from zero again.

CBS Boston: Were you a little surprised that you didn't get any kind of an opportunity with a new coaching regime in Detroit (with Stan Van Gundy) in your second season in the league?

Gigi Datome: I wanted to have an opportunity with the Pistons because it was my original team. They made the choice to prefer other players, so I couldn't do anything about it and just accepted this season, be a good teammate and wait for my opportunity. It didn't arrive there, it arrived here and I'm happy about it.

CBS Boston: You have seemed to pick up a lot of aspects of the Celtics' offensive scheme easily since coming over at the trade deadline. What's been the key to that? Just studying what the team does?

Gigi:  A lot of things are really basic. The team has made everything easy, because when you arrive on the team when everyone is going to share the ball and help each other on defense, so some mistakes that may happen we cover [for each other]. The teammates make it easy and it's my 12th as a pro. I've seen a lot of basketball, so I'm ready for the adjustments and new sets. I'm good at picking up new stuff. Of course, if you are on the court more, it'll be easier and easier, but I won't hurt the team.

CBS Boston: You are a free agent at the end of the season here. Do you want to stay in Boston or at least the NBA? Or is it tough knowing your opportunities might be limited here for playing time?

Gigi Datome: It's really early now. I hope during my free agency, hopefully the Celtics, hopefully other teams make a call or offer, because it means that this month, I did something good. For sure, I would like to be involved, feeling like part of the team, not just on the roster. It's really early now and the focus is on the playoffs.

Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.

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