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Monta Ellis Pushes Jeremy Lin Not To Play Scared

Rusty Simmons reports that Jeremy Lin is slowly impressing his coach and his teammates, capped off by Monta Ellis giving Lin the encouragement to not "play scared." Coach Keith Smart comments on this:

"I think Monta is pushing him, because he’s starting to gain confidence in him," Smart said. "If Lin can handle Monta coming at him, he’ll be OK in the games."

"I’m not fooling anyone by trying to make Reggie into a point guard, because that takes away from his natural game," Smart said. "I can’t try to make Charlie into that. These guys have to play their natural positions."

Lacking true ball handlers, Smart is relying on Lin to help manage the team. But will Lin be able to handle the pressure? In several professional outings in front of the home crowd (see: Harvard @ Santa Clara of late 2009), Lin showed a noticeable nervousness and hesitance in his decision making. Getting encouragement from Monta Ellis, however, should be good confidence booster. Lin will have his hands full tonight as he takes on recently extended Mike Conley (5 years, 40 million), who, arguably, is playing the basketball of his career and, possibly, living up to expectations, finally.