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Irish Coffee: What Avery Bradley does for the Celtics 12.19.12 at 1:22 pm ET
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Upon Avery Bradley‘s return to practice on Monday, Celtics coach Doc Rivers declared, “He ain’t the savior.

Well, he was last season. The Celtics finished 20-9 in Bradley’s 29 starts last year, including a 14-5 record once he took Ray Allen‘s starting job on March 25, and they were essentially a .500 team (19-18) when he wasn’t in the starting lineup. Funny how the C’s have started 12-12 without him this season.

But Bradley does more than impact their record. When he took the floor with Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett, the Celtics outscored their opponents 113-94 per 100 possessions. That’s seven points better on offense and defense than the Rondo-Allen-Pierce-Bass-Garnett lineup (106-101 per 100 possessions).

That’s also far better than Rondo, Pierce, Bass and Garnett with Jason Terry (108-99) or Courtney Lee (106-115) this season. The Celtics shot better (50.6 eFG%), forced opponents to shoot worse (39.5 eFG%), got to the line more often (+28 FTA) and rebounded better (47.0 REB%) with Bradley than with Allen, Terry or Lee.

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O.J. Mayo: ‘Would’ve been an honor to play’ for Celtics 12.13.12 at 1:14 am ET
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O.J. Mayo defends Rajon Rondo during a 117-115 Celtics win over the Mavericks. (AP)

This past April, Celtics analyst Donny Marshall claimed O.J. Mayo‘s refusal to play for the Celtics led to the collapse of a deal with the Grizzlies that would have brought him to Boston last season in exchange for Ray Allen and a draft pick. “Mayo basically said, ‘I don’t care about banners,’” announced Marshall.

After losing to the Celtics in double overtime on Wednesday, the current Mavericks guard denied that accusation, referencing his lack of veto power without a no-trade clause and affirming he would’ve welcomed the deal to Boston.

“I was in a good situation in Memphis at the time,” said Mayo. “Obviously, Boston is a big-time organization as well. Great players. It would’ve been an honor to play with KG [Kevin Garnett], [Paul] Pierce and [Rajon] Rondo. It would’ve been great to play with those guys and with [Celtics coach] Doc [Rivers].”

Instead, Mayo blamed the deal’s failure on an internal debate between C’s players and the front office over Allen’s future.

“I was pretty much set to come here and something fell through at the very last second,” said Mayo, who collected 24 points (10-19 FG), six rebounds, three assists and two steals in Wednesday night’s loss to the Celtics. “A couple of the guys wanted to keep Ray, and management wanted to make the trade.

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Fast Break: Paul Pierce, Celtics outlast Mavericks in double OT 12.12.12 at 11:28 pm ET
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After Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce each missed potential game-winnters to end regulation and the first overtime, they combined for 10-of-12 points in the second OT as the Celtics outlasted the Mavericks, 117-115. Courtney Lee scored the other two, a pair of free throws that kept an O.J. Mayo 3-pointer at the buzzer from forcing a third overtime.

Pierce finished with a season-high 34 points, Rondo missed his second triple-double in three games by a single rebound (16 points, 15 assists, 9 rebounds) and four other Celtics reached double figures: Kevin Garnett (16 points), Jeff Green (15 points), Jason Terry (10 points) and Chris Wilcox (10 points).

In a wild final two minutes of regulation, Derek Fisher‘s 3-pointer gave the Mavericks their first lead, 95-94 with 1:47 to play in the fourth quarter. A Pierce jumper briefly gave the Celtics the lead back, but O.J. Mayo made 1-of-2 free throws to force a tie. That resulted in a seven-second span in which Rondo poked the ball loose from Mayo with 6.9 seconds left and got his shot blocked by Fisher as time expired on the other end.

Likewise, in the first overtime, Pierce and Garnett each drilled go-ahead jump shots in the final minute, but Shawn Marion (16 points, 11 rebounds) and Mayo (team-high 21 points) answered on both occasions. And the unimaginative Pierce elbow jumper failed as the clock ran out on OT No. 1.

A Pierce triple to begin the second overtime gave the Celtics the lead for good, as they held off every run the Mavericks had left in them, including a Vince Carter trey that brought them within one in the final minute.

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Celtics scouting report: Mavericks guard O.J. Mayo 12.12.12 at 12:31 pm ET
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If Celtics coach Doc Rivers is really “the Bill Belichick of basketball,” as Jason Terry claimed, then he’s planning to stop every opponent’s most dangerous weapon. Against the Mavericks on Wednesday night, that’s O.J. Mayo.

The fifth-year guard has averaged career highs across the board, including 20.8 points (48.7 FG%, 50.3 3P%), 4.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 34.9 minutes per game, leading Dirk Nowitzki-less Dallas to a surprising 11-10 start.

“O.J. Mayo’s playing off the charts,” said Rivers. “He’s shooting above 50 from the 3. What’s impressive with him, they’re running a lot of isos, and he’s guarded taking 3’s. That’s scary when you say a guy is guarded taking 3’s and he’s making over 50 percent of them. And he’s really their catalyst.”

After the NCAA vacated his brief USC career over improper benefits, Mayo played his first four NBA seasons for the Grizzlies. That roller-coaster ride began with a runner-up finish to Derrick Rose in the 2008-09 Rookie of the Year voting and ended with a sprinkling of votes for last season’s Sixth Man of the Year honor, but also featured an in-flight fight with Tony Allen over a gambling debt and a 10-game suspension for using a banned substance.

“His work ethic has definitely changed,” said Celtics guard Jason Terry. “If you hear coming out of their locker room what he’s done differently, he’s brought better work habits. He’s been there at night, and he’s coming early before the games, so I think that’s carrying over for him. He’s always been a great talent, but there’s been questions about his work ethic. Obviously, this year he’s put the work in, and it’s starting to show.”

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He’s no Tom Brady, but Rajon Rondo thinks he could’ve played in the NFL 12.11.12 at 7:20 pm ET
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WALTHAM — The Celtics sure enjoyed themselves at the Patriots game on Monday night. After Tuesday’s practice, Jason Terry dubbed coach Doc Riversthe Bill Belichick of basketball,” Rivers called Rajon Rondoour Tom Brady” and Rondo left believing he could’ve played in the NFL.

“I don’t take what those guys do lightly,” said Rondo, “but I think I could’ve played. I could’ve given it a shot.”

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Rondo grew up playing quarterback in football, point guard in basketball and pitcher in baseball before focusing on hoops at Eastern High (Louisville, Ky.) and Oak HIll Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.).

“I didn’t think about playing at Kentucky,” said the former Wildcats basketball star. “High school days, but not college. When I got to college, it was just one-track minded, which was basketball and getting to the league.”

The closest Rondo came to playing college football was warming up Kentucky’s QB (Although, his brother Will Rondo played briefly at Murray State), but at least Rondo’s not putting himself in Brady’s class. “Quarterback and point guard are pretty much the same thing,” he said of the comparison, “but I don’t know about Tom Brady.”

In classic Rondo fashion, he ended his interview after Tuesday’s practice with one last quip that made everyone wonder whether he was ever serious for the previous five minutes.

“I don’t know Tom at all,” he said. “I tried to get his autograph. I just couldn’t reach him.”

Considering Rondo has attended Patriots practices in the past and developed a friendly relationship with avid Celtics fan Vince Wilfork, it’s hard to imagine he’d have a hard time getting Brady’s signature if he really wanted it.

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Jason Terry doesn’t miss this Mavericks team 12.11.12 at 5:43 pm ET
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WALTHAM — As we learned earlier this season, on the eve of every Celtics game, Jason Terry sleeps in a pair of shorts worn by someone from the next night’s opponent. Thankfully, on Tuesday night, he won’t have to bribe a locker room attendant to get a pair of Mavericks shorts.

“I’m wearing my own,” said the former Dallas star. “The ones from the championship.”

After the NBA lockout, as Mavericks management allowed pieces of that 2010 title team to sign elsewhere, Terry voiced his displeasure about not getting the band back together, and he left for Boston as a result a year later. He wanted to compete for another championship, and Dallas got worse. In the infancy of this season, Terry said of last year’s Mavericks, “It never jelled. It never happened. That’s why we were out in the first round.”

“They’ve got the same team name, but it’s not the same team,” he added after Tuesday’s practice. “Obviously, that was last year. We didn’t have the same team, or we’d probably still be there. It’s a totally different ballclub.”

So, when Terry faces his former employer, he won’t see his old team on the other bench. Gone are key contributors Tyson Chandler and Jason Kidd. Dirk Nowitzki (knee) hasn’t suited up yet this season, and Shawn Marion (groin) remains a game-time decision after missing the previous two games.

“Those are the guys I won a championship with,” said Terry, “and they’re not there. … Maybe if Tyson Chandler was over there or Jason Kidd was over there, then there would be something extra special, but honestly it’s not.”

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Irish Coffee: How Celtics perform in clutch situations 12.10.12 at 5:10 pm ET
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After Rajon Rondo missed not one, but both game-winning opportunities in a 95-94 Celtics loss to the 76ers over the weekend — a failed 19-footer to end regulation and the infamous slippery 16-footer as overtime ran out — I got to wondering how the C’s are performing in clutch situations (either team within five points with five minutes remaining in regulation and overtime), since half of their 20 games have been decided by six points or less.

The C’s are 6-4 in those 10 games despite shooting 37.4 percent as a team in a whopping 60.2 clutch minutes, including three overtime games. They’ve had four potential game-winning shots at the buzzer — all misses on long jumpers — and Rondo has taken three of them. Paul Pierce attempted the fourth (from the elbow, of course).

Before we started reading into who’s doing what in the clutch, here are the numbers (Leandro Barbosa, Chris Wilcox and Jared Sullinger have all played sparingly in crunch time, but not a large enough sample size). Read the rest of this entry »

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