By Jessica Camerato
BOSTON -- Marquis Daniels counted them down every day this summer.
998 . . . 999 . . . 1000.
Daniels set a personal goal of making a thousand three-pointers a day during the offseason. He got up shots in the morning and later again at night, recruiting his brother and former AAU coach to help with the drills.
It was a variation from his usual offseason routine, which typically consisted of post-up moves and conditioning, but one that he felt he needed to make to help the Celtics this season.
"I just know on this team, weve got great post players and great post presence," he said. "With Rajon Rondo slashing and other guys getting into the lane, I've just got to be able to knock down open shots."
So far, the plan is paying off.
Daniels has enhanced his game from being a slasher to a reliable outside shooter. He is averaging 10 points while shooting 55 percent from the field and 67 percent from three-point range in the Celtics' first three preseason games.
Daniels hit a key three-pointer to give the Celtics a win over the New Jersey Nets last week and scored 7 of his 11 points in just over a minute on Sunday against the Toronto Raptors.
"I think just quietly, Marquis has been going about his business, but he's been putting together a solid camp," said Paul Pierce. "He's doing the same things in practice and he's showing it in the games."
These types of performance are what many expected when Daniels signed with the Celtics last season. But he missed nearly 30 games because of torn ligaments in his thumb, and when he did return, his productivity didn't always follow. He finished the 2009-10 season averaging 5.6 points in just 51 regular-season games.
Daniels has repeatedly emphasized that his main goal this season is to stay healthy. He says his efficiency has more to do with rhythm than confidence, and has been more aggressive with his shooting into order to establish that consistency.
"I was teasing 'Quis earlier," recalled Nate Robinson. "I said, 'Just don't think about it. Just shoot it. If you make it, you make it. If you miss, you miss. We're not perfect. We're not going to make every shot.' Now this year he told me, 'Nate, man, whenever you guys rotate, I'm just going to shoot it. I'm not going to think about it, just play,' and he's been doing a hell of a job."
Daniels has turned heads as he enters his eighth year in the league. Rather than wonder what could have been last season, he is focused on the season at hand.
"I'd like to say this is something I could've been doing if I had stayed healthy, but that's in the past," he said. "So now I'm looking forward to the future and just continuing to get better every day."
Thousands of three-pointers later, hes on his way.
Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcamerato.