|Avery Bradley ‘can’t wait until’ Rajon Rondo returns||12.04.13 at 1:10 am ET|
As the past few days have brought conflicting reports about whether Rajon Rondo has already met with Dr. James Andrews or will do so in New York next week, the only certainty is that his return is on the horizon, and it couldn’t come at a better time for a Celtics squad that just assumed first place in the Atlantic Division.
And while we can measure Rondo’s statistical impact on these Celtics all we want — as we attempted here — Avery Bradley knows the three-time NBA All-Star point guard brings so much more than stats.
“I think that’s going to be big and good for us to have a player like Rondo,” said Bradley, one of only five players on the current roster to play with him. “He’s a very good player, and that’s going to open up everything for everybody. Everybody’s going to get a lot of open looks, because he’s a great player. I can’t wait until he comes back.”
The C’s have shown a remarkable ability to stick with teams through the first three quarters of games, winning the ones when a handful of guys contribute on the same night — like Tuesday’s win over the Bucks, when Bradley’s 15 points, including a ridiculous over-the-backboard bucket, gave the Celtics six players in double figures.
“Everybody on our team I feel like can have a big game any night,” said Bradley. “That’s the good thing about our team. We have a lot of good players that could have breakout games. Jared [Sullinger]‘s been playing well, Jordan [Crawford]‘s been playing well and Jeff [Green]‘s been playing well, and that brings a lot to our team when we have those guys come out every single night and take turns having big games.”
Except the Celtics can’t depend on six guys all coming to play every single night if they hope to cling to the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. Just ask Gerald Wallace. They’re lacking star-power, especially when they need to execute in the final minutes of close contests. As Celtics coach Brad Stevens said, “It’s hard sometimes when things tense up late.” Basically, they need Rondo. Half of their 12 losses have been by six or seven points, and Bradley knows Rondo’s return could mean the difference between competing regularly and winning regularly.
“It could be big for us,” he said. “I know once he comes back, a lot of teams are going to hate to play the Celtics.”
|Behind the backboard: Larry Bird vs. Avery Bradley||12.03.13 at 11:56 pm ET|
For the record, Avery Bradley had never seen Larry Bird‘s over-the-backboard bucket before.
“That was honestly just a lucky shot,” said Bradley, who finished with 15 points in the Celtics’ 108-100 win over the Bucks. “I didn’t even know how much time was left. I just wanted to get the shot up.”
|Stat Man: Avery Bradley is an elite jump shooter||11.21.13 at 1:04 pm ET|
One word said it all. When asked if he had more time to devote to his midrange game this summer — his first NBA offseason without injury issues — Celtics guard Avery Bradley said plainly, “Yes.”
For Bradley, it’s always been about confidence. After tumbling from nation’s No. 1 high school recruit in 2009 to No. 19 pick in the 2010 NBA draft and shooting 19.6 percent (9-46 FG) from anywhere outside the restricted zone as a rookie, he had none. Obviously, an ankle surgery that kept him from his first NBA training camp didn’t help matters, but slashing off the ball to the basket was the only offensive weapon in his arsenal that first year.
(NBA.com/stats key: Red = Below Average, Yellow = Average, Green = Above Average)
Bradley began his lockout-shortened sophomore season as most young players under Doc Rivers did — on the end of the bench — only earning significant playing time once Ray Allen‘s ankle issues flared in late January. After shooting just 1-for-12 from 3-point range through the first three months of the season, Bradley discovered another niche, adding a right-corner 3 to a quiver that still included all those backdoor cuts to the bucket.
|Fast Break: Balanced Celtics effort stops the Magic||11.11.13 at 9:52 pm ET|
Seven Celtics scored in double figures as they shot 60 percent as a team and stopped the Magic, 120-105.
Avery Bradley led the way with 24 points; Jeff Green, Jordan Crawford and Kelly Olynyk each netted 16; Courtney Lee dropped 12 and Brandon Bass contributed 10 in a balanced effort that improved the C’s record to .500 (4-4) for the first time in the Brad Stevens era.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
The Steez knees: Believe it or not, Crawford actually looked like a point guard. Submitting by far his best half of basketball in a Celtics uniform, he reached triple-double watch by halftime: 12 points (5-7 FG), six assists and four rebounds. More importantly, he entered the break with zero turnovers in 17 first-half minutes and owned the C’s best plus/minus number (+13) in staking them to a 59-50 advantage.
On the range: Bradley’s jumper from 15-19 feet has steadily improved since his rookie season, rising from to 26 percent in 2010-11 to 41 percent in his sophomore season and 44 percent last year. After knocking down his first three attempts from that range against the Magic — and finishing 7-of-9 on long 2′s — he’s started 13-of-24 (54 percent) from that range this season. Avery Bradley is officially a shooting guard.
Kelly O’Sully: By replacing Vitor Faverani in the starting lineup, Brad Stevens broke up the unselfishly entertaining Olynyk-Sullinger frontcourt combination that had helped produce 105.1 points per 100 possessions through the first seven games. And the two talented young bigs responded by providing consistent production throughout a thorough dismantling of the Magic, totaling 30 points on remarkable 14-of-18 shooting to go along with 12 rebounds, eight assists, three blocks and three steals as Jelly Sullynyk.
|Report: Avery Bradley headed for restricted free agency after failing to finalize deal with Celtics||11.01.13 at 10:46 am ET|
Avery Bradley and the Celtics could not come an agreement on a contract extension by Thursday’s deadline for 2010 draftees on rookie contracts, meaning the guard will become a restricted free agent next offseason, according to a Boston Globe report.
The sides had been talking about a four-year deal but apparently could not put the pieces together. The Celtics still would be able to match any offer Bradley receives from another team.
The 22-year-old defensive standout continues to be inconsistent with his offense, evidenced by his 4-for-13 shooting in Wednesday’s season-opening loss to the Raptors. He also had as many turnovers as assists (4).
|Celtics need to rebound after opening loss to Raptors||10.31.13 at 9:20 am ET|
Brad Stevens had good reason to be optimistic following his team’s season-opening 93-87 loss to the Raptors in Toronto on Wednesday night, but the first-year Celtics coach also had plenty of reason for concern. Mainly, the C’s were dominated on the boards, getting outrebounded 48-33, including 19-7 on offensive boards.
“When they broke us down, they crushed us on the glass,” Stevens told reporters. “They shot 20 more field goals than us. It’s going to be hard to win a game when that happens.”
Added Brandon Bass: “We tried to help and got ourselves out of position. Their bigs were naked under the basket for the most part.”
Jeff Green scored 25 points, Bass netted 17 and Vitor Faverani added 13 points and three blocks for the C’s, who lost to Toronto for just the sixth time in 26 meetings. Kris Humphries had eight points and a team-high nine rebounds.
First-round draft pick Kelly Olynyk played 16 minutes off the bench and scored four points on 2-of-5 shooting. Olynyk, a Toronto native, was a minus-19, tied for worst on the team with Faverani. Guard Avery Bradley struggled with his shooting, hitting just 4-of-13 from the field, and recording as many turnovers as assists (4).
The Celtics rallied from a 16-point third-quarter deficit and were tied at 78 with 7:42 left after a Jordan Crawford jumper, but they didn’t score again until 4:08 remained.
“At the end of the day we didn’t do everything perfectly,” Stevens said. “I didn’t coach a perfect game, but I think we can all rest assured we’ve got a team that will fight and we’ve got a team that will compete. And we can shore up a couple of those mistakes, maybe we can come out the other end of it.”
Rudy Gay led the Raptors with 19 points and eight rebounds.
The Celtics next host the Bucks on Friday night.
|Celtics, for the last time: Avery Bradley||10.29.13 at 2:06 pm ET|
One of the most unpredictable Celtics seasons in recent memory begins Wednesday, and in order to determine the likelihood of each player reaching his full potential, we’ll be examining them individually in this year’s Green Street preview with one form of this question in mind: “When’s the last time … ?” Next up: Avery Bradley.
When’s the last time a player emerged as a defensive standout and then made the offensive leap?
Avery Bradley earned what should be the first of a long line of NBA All-Defensive nods last season, joining Mike Conley Jr. in the Second Team backcourt. Considering he returned midseason from surgery on both shoulders the previous summer, his offense continued to lag behind despite averaging a career-high 9.2 points per game.
Bradley’s 40 percent shooting from 3-point range and nearly five field goal attempts at the rim per 36 minutes during his sophomore season offered glimpses of his offensive potential, but his shooting percentages dipped dramatically in 2012-13 (40.6 FG%, 32.2 3P%). That pit bull defense, though, remained tough as ever.
At this point, Bradley is nearing a point where it’s time to either make the jump to becoming a two-way stud or accept an NBA life as a defensive hound. It’s the fork in the road that — in a best-case scenario — either leads to Bruce Bowen‘s career or Dennis Johnson‘s. So, which one is Avery Bradley?
Really, there’s no precedent for a guard establishing an All-Defensive reputation and later making an impact as a double-digit scorer. Guys like D.J., Maurice Cheeks and Joe Dumars had already proven themselves as valuable offensive weapons by the time they made their first All-Defense teams.
History would tell you Bradley’s on a similar career path to Michael Cooper, who made the first of eight All-Defense teams in his third season, submitted his highest scoring average the next year (11.9) and settled in as a career 8.9 points per game scorer. That’s not such a bad scenario, either, considering Cooper won five rings over 12 seasons and took home the 1987 NBA Defensive Player of the Year honor in his ninth year.
Except these Celtics aren’t those Showtime Lakers. They could use the 15.3 points per 36 minutes on 43.8 percent shooting from 3 that Bradley provided this preseason. All it would take is a precedent-setting performance.
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