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Avery Bradley: Celtics have chance to make playoffs

Posted By Ben Rohrbach On August 21, 2014 @ 6:07 pm In General | Comments Disabled

Consider Avery Bradley [2] the first to declare the Celtics [3] a playoff team this season, and he won’t be the last. In all honesty, would you want a player who entered the season already resigned to the lottery? Of course you wouldn’t.

“I feel like we have a chance to make the playoffs and make a lot of noise this year if we listen to [Celtics [3] coach] Brad [Stevens],” Bradley told reporters [4] from his youth basketball camp in Dartmouth. The former second-team All-Defensive selection added, “I feel like we have a chance to be a top-10 defensive team in the NBA this year.”

While any NBA player worth his salt — and Bradley’s new four-year, $32 million deal can buy an awful lot of sodium chloride — should believe both statements to be true, the question is whether either is believable. The Celtics [3] finished with the league’s fourth-worst record (25-57) and ranked 19th in points allowed per 100 possessions (108.6 [5]). Have they done enough to climb 14 games in the standings and allow .025 fewer points per possession?

Barring a trade, the Celtics [3] will feature at least 10 of the 15 players who finished last season. They’ve replaced Kris Humphries and Jerryd Bayless with Tyler Zeller and Marcus Thornton while adding Evan Turner [6] and a pair of rookies. Marcus Smart is the only one of the bunch who comes with a solid reputation defensively, and he’s expected to play behind Rajon Rondo [7] to start the year. That’s not much of a sales pitch.

Rondo is the wild card, of course, and Bradley suggested his backcourt mate has returned to form as the player who earned Third Team All-NBA and Second Team All-Defensive honors during his last healthy season. While a three-headed monster of Rondo, Bradley and Smart could theoretically form one of the league’s grittiest guard groups defensively, the Celtics [3] still lack the rim-protecting big Danny Ainge sought this summer. Are you confident Tyler Zeller, Kelly Olynyk and Jeff Green [8] can hold down the frontcourt? Me neither.

Meanwhile, the Eastern Conference’s other sub-.500 squads all took steps forward. The Hawks return a healthy Al Horford. The Knicks surrounded Carmelo Anthony with a few more serviceable players, including Jose Calderon and Samuel Dalembert. The Cavaliers [9] did something, although I can’t quite remember what it was. The Pistons hired a coach with a history of winning two-thirds of his regular-season games. And the Magic, 76ers and Bucks respectively added young talent, a healthy impact center and a combination of the two.

So maybe it’s a stretch to imagine the Celtics [3] a playoff team with staunch defense. Or maybe Stevens can extract career years from Rondo, Bradley and Jeff Green [8]; help Olynyk, Zeller and Jared Sullinger make the leap; expedite Smart and James Young‘s contributions; and invent a time machine for Gerald Wallace [10]. Either way, the only way the C’s come close to proving Bradley right is to match his confidence entering training camp.


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URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://greenstreet.weei.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Bradley_Avery-Celtics-head-13.jpg

[2] Avery Bradley: http://media.weei.com/basketball/avery-bradley.htm

[3] Celtics: http://media.weei.com/basketball/boston-celtics.htm

[4] Bradley told reporters: http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/celtics/post/_/id/4714499/bradley-celts-could-make-a-lot-of-noise

[5] 108.6: http://www.basketball-reference.com/leagues/NBA_2014_ratings.html

[6] Evan Turner: http://media.weei.com/basketball/evan-turner.htm

[7] Rajon Rondo: http://media.weei.com/basketball/rajon-rondo.htm

[8] Jeff Green: http://media.weei.com/basketball/jeff-green.htm

[9] Cavaliers: http://media.weei.com/basketball/cleveland-cavaliers.htm

[10] Gerald Wallace: http://media.weei.com/basketball/gerald-wallace.htm

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