|Fast Break: Isaiah Thomas (25 points), Jae Crowder (21) open strong as C’s hold on for dear life in season opener||10.26.16 at 10:02 pm ET|
And we’re off.
Facing a team predicted to be one of the worst in the league, the Celtics held off a late surge from the Nets in a 122-117 victory at TD Garden.
Jae Crowder, Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley all found the form off the tip that has made them indispensable in their tenures with the team. Crowder was a knockdown shooter from the field, garnering 21 points with four boards, a pair of assists and steals and a block.
Already having a solid game through one half, Thomas was untouchable in the third, cruising to a 25-point performance while one assist shy of a double-double. Compared to Crowder and Thomas, Bradley’s first non-preseason game since leaving the postseason with an injury in April paled in comparison, as he put up 17 points with five assists and nine boards.
Al Horford had 11 points , five rebounds, six assists and four blocks in his Celtics debut.
“The first 40 minutes I thought we really played with great presence and purpose. And the last few we didn’t. It’s a reminder of how quickly this thing can turn in this league,” coach Brad Stevens said.
It wasn’t smooth sailing throughout the game, however. Despite going up by double digits in the second quarter, the C’s allowed the Nets to get within five late in the period. This after a streaky first quarter that saw an eight-point lead to get whittled down to one. The Celtics then proceeded to allow the Nets to make a late 18-2 run to close to within three in the final minutes of the fourth quarter before the Celtics starters returned and closed it out.
“It was 110-87 and we started shooting bad shots and not guarding and throwing it to the other team. That’s how quickly it can change, we all know that. I was hopeful not to have to put [the starters] back in, but I probably went a little bit longer than I normally would have,” Stevens said.
|Celtics Player Preview: Avery Bradley||09.16.16 at 10:08 am ET|
With Celtics training camp set to begin on Sept. 26, WEEI.com presents a player-by-player breakdown of the roster. The Celtics have 20 players under contract but will have to cut the roster to 15 by the start of the season.
76 games: 33.4 minutes, 15.2 points, 44.7% FG, 2.1 assists, 2.9 rebounds, 1.5 steals
The 25-year-old was one of the most indispensable members of the team last season — as apparent by the noticeable void when the seventh-year pro went down with a hamstring injury in the first game of the postseason. Prior to that, however, the now-longest-tenured Celtic’s defense was stout as ever, leading to a spot on the NBA’s All-Defense first team, while still being a reliable shooting source from the wing.
Projected role in 2016-17
Don’t expect Bradley’s role to change much this season. Of the 76 regular-season games he appeared in last season, he started 72 and was one of the most reliable defenders and shooters, and he should do much of the same this season. The Celtics don’t have much shooting help from 3, and Bradley likely will continue to fill the 3-and-D role for coach Brad Stevens as a result. It’s also safe to expect him to be one of the premier defensive forces in the NBA, and as long as he is at full health — which he says he is — then expect him to be a night-in, night-out starter netting 35-plus minutes per game.
|5 Celtics crack SI’s list of Top 100 NBA players||09.15.16 at 3:27 pm ET|
Sports Illustrated recently released its annual list of the Top 100 players in the NBA, and for the Celtics, it was merely affirmation of what they already believe: this team looks to be pretty good.
Five Celtics landed in the top 100, led by Al Horford at No. 18. Isaiah Thomas is 45, Jae Crowder 53, Avery Bradley 72 and Amir Johnson 86.
Horford was praised for his ability to fit into essentially any system and make himself a threat defensively regardless of who he’s up against. He can play in the low post, he can pick and roll, he can shoot if needed. Defensively, of course is his strength. Concern was mentioned about his rebounding troubles against top rebounders — something that has routinely plagued the Celtics — as well as his occasional interest to shoot a below-average 3-pointers.
In last year’s ranking, Thomas came in at 88, and he had something to say about it.
Sports illustrated Rankings are a JOKE lol. Feels like back in HS when those POLITICAL rankings would come out & we would just laugh it off
— Isaiah Thomas (@Isaiah_Thomas) August 31, 2015
This year, SI gave him a little bit more respect, specifically with his reliability and durability. The article noted his ability to drive (he was second in the league in points off the drive last season) but also the fact that as a result of his interest in driving combined with a smaller stature, he is prone to getting his shot blocked.
The focal point of Crowder’s assessment was how unlikely it seemed that he would be as adored and successful in Boston as he is when he was part of the long-awaited trade of Rajon Rondo. On top of that, his ability to steal the ball (he ranked second in the league in steals) was looked favorably upon while his reticence to routinely pull the trigger from deep was criticized.
Bradley was lauded for his abilities as a two-way player, as he won accolades for defense while being a knockdown shooter periodically last season. However, the article was critical of his inability to run an offense for extended periods of time and his injury concerns.
For Johnson — arguably the biggest surprise to make the list — the focus was on what he brings to the table defensively. A case could be made he is one of the most integral parts of the Celtics defense, which is saying a lot given how solid the C’s defense is. His drawbacks included the fact that he is not exactly a threat offensively, getting most of his points from putbacks. Even still, his impact is massive given he is the first one to the bench in most games.
|Avery Bradley looking to ‘lead by example’ this season||09.07.16 at 3:32 pm ET|
With the new look of the Celtics beginning to mold, the “Big Three” era is more and more quickly starting to feel like a thing of the past. And that’s not just a figment of the imagination.
The only player on the current roster to have played with Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce is now-seventh-year pro Avery Bradley.
Who else was on that roster in 2011-12 Celtics who haven’t quite survived? Try E’Twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson and Marquis Daniels among others.
But now 25 years old and the longest tenured member of the Celtics, Bradley has become one of the most prominent leaders on the team, despite his generally quiet disposition.
“Lead by example,” said Bradley in an interview with Celtics.com’s Marc D’Amico when asked to describe his leadership role with the C’s. “I don’t really speak that much. I just try to be professional on and off the court, and hopefully everybody follows.”
The 6-foot-2 shooting guard has already taken on quite a role on both ends of the court for the Celtics. He averaged 15.2 points per game last season and was stout on defense, averaging 1.5 steals per game while shutting down some of the league’s top offensive players in the process.
Bradley played two seasons with “The Big Three”, taking notes along the way at just 18 and 19 years old during that time frame. With that experience now, he knows that the remarkably young team that will be around him this season is in a sense looking in the same thing from him that he did seven seasons ago.
“I was just able to listen to them,” said Bradley. “KG and those guys, they told me what I needed to do to be successful and I would listen to those guys because I wanted to be like them. I knew what it would take for me to stick in the NBA, and that was making sure I was always on time and all of those things.”
Added Bradley: “I can’t preach something that I’m not doing,” he said. “That’s the thing about it – all of my teammates see me being professional, so I hope they’ll do the same.”
|Avery Bradley offers explanation as to why he wasn’t at recruitment of Kevin Durant||08.29.16 at 7:15 pm ET|
It’s been nearly two months since Kevin Durant opted to sign with the Warriors over a slew of other bidders — the Celtics being one of them.
The Celtics brought the cavalry, including players Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynyk and Marcus Smart as well as president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and co-owner Steve Pagliuca. Tom Brady also was in attendance.
But there was one glaringly obvious absence.
The longest-tenured member of the Celtics, Avery Bradley, was not in attendance, and, as he explained when addressing it for the first time this week, there was a reason behind his absence. Bradley and Durant both played at the University of Texas and interface frequently as a result of it, and the guard thought it was best to stay out of it.
“I didn’t do that much,” the 25-year-old told The Boston Globe while at a basketball court makeover in Belmont. “Me and Kevin are like brothers, so we talk all the time. So I’m not going to talk to him about that, you know what I mean? I was more asking him how he’s doing.
“I was actually with him a week before all that stuff went down at a camp in Austin [Texas], so I really wasn’t that much involved.”
Though he stayed largely away from the Durant luring process, the All-Star’s decision did not seem to turn the head of Bradley as wildly as it did the rest of the basketball world.
“You know what, I can’t really say,” Bradley said. “All I can say is that I’m happy for him, and I feel like he’s part of a great organization. And I wish the best for him. Kevin’s a really good guy and an even better player.”
|Report: Celtics can’t move 3rd pick because ‘Boston doesn’t have anyone on roster that other GMs really want’||06.21.16 at 11:51 am ET|
The Celtics continue to struggle to find a willing trade partner to take the No. 3 pick in Thursday’s draft, and the culprit is the lack of talent on their roster to sweeten a deal.
According to ESPN’s Ryen Russillo, the Celtics are striking out in their efforts to move the pick.
The Celtics have been trying to package #3 and another player/players for a legitimate starter. Teams have not been interested.
— Russillo (@ryenarussillo) June 21, 2016
Not saying it’s impossible but sentiment around league is that Boston doesn’t have anyone on roster that other GMs really want.
— Russillo (@ryenarussillo) June 21, 2016
Russillo goes on to note that while some teams might like defensive stopper Avery Bradley, there’s little interest in Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, the 16th pick, etc.
Sure teams would take Avery Bradley…but “Sullinger/Smart or Olynk and #16 for this guy…” isn’t going to work.
— Russillo (@ryenarussillo) June 21, 2016
|Brad Stevens sings praise of Avery Bradley: ‘You could make a strong case for him to be defensive player of year’||06.06.16 at 6:18 pm ET|
WALTHAM – If Brad Stevens has anything to say about it, Avery Bradley and his $8 million per year salary isn’t going anywhere this offseason.
The Celtics coach spoke for the first time since the star defensive guard was chosen first-team NBA all-defense last week.
“I think it was clearly deserved. I think that you could make a strong case for him to be Defensive Player of the Year or in consideration for that because he is so versatile in his ability to defend guards,” Stevens said after the second of two pre-draft workouts Monday in Waltham.
The Defensive Player of the Year award went to the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard, who won the honor for a second straight year.
But that didn’t keep Stevens from pointing out that Bradley could arguably be placed among the best defensive guards in basketball.
“I think if you polled the guards in the NBA, really 1 through 3, Avery’s name would come up a lot,” Stevens added. “So, obviously it’s against great competition. The guys who got honored all deserve it. But I don’t think it’s as simple as saying there’s one Defensive Player of the Year when you have somebody of Avery’s caliber and his ability to impact the game.”
Stevens said that he has been in contact with Bradley, and that rehab on his right hamstring is coming along after straining it badly in Game 1 against the Hawks, forcing him to miss the rest of the playoffs.
“I don’t have an update on where he is in the physical rehab part, but obviously after he won the award we communicated, and he’s getting better,” Stevens said.
Bradley’s name could come up in trade talk at some point this summer, as he is not only considered one of the more underrated guards in the league, he is affordably priced. Bradley is entering the third year of a four-year contract totaling $32 million.
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