|Irish Coffee: Where Avery Bradley adds a jump shot||03.06.13 at 10:45 am ET|
While everyone’s been rightfully lauding Avery Bradley‘s defense, he’s added a mid-range game.
In Tuesday’s 109-101 victory against the 76ers, the Celtics guard drained 4-of-5 long jumpers (16-23 feet). Heck, he even attempted a couple from 10-15 feet, where he hadn’t made a shot in more than a month. It’s almost as if he previously had devastating shoulder injuries, and he’s only now fully recovering. Oh, wait, he did. And he is.
“He’s starting to make the little pull-up jump shot,” C’s coach Doc Rivers told reporters in the postgame. “He’s been making the 3’s for the most part. He keeps shooting them, and we want him to, but I’m really happy with his pull-up off the dribble. That’s a big shot for us later, and he’s starting to make that. And that’s big.”
The 3-pointers part is debatable, since Bradley’s steadily been shooting around 31 percent from there this season after making 41 percent a year ago. His corner 3-point shooting has also dipped from 56 percent last season to 34 percent this winter. But Bradley’s honing a new weapon for his offensive arsenal: the long jumper.
Oh, great, another jump shooter on the Celtics, you say. Well, consider this: Bradley’s making 51 percent of his long jumpers over the past 12 games on an average of 3.6 attempts. That’s a marked improvement from his first 16 games, when he shot 39 percent on 2.3 attempts during a physical and mental adjustment period upon his return.
Because defenders must now respect Bradley’s newfound jump shot (see video), he’s also getting to the rim twice as often over the past 12 games, converting 60 percent of his 3.8 shots per game within three feet. His scoring numbers are up 50 percent in that same stretch, which has ripple effects throughout the Celtics roster.
“He’s confident,” added Rivers. “I don’t think he ever lost it. He was questioning it at times.
|Kevin Garnett: Avery Bradley ‘is everything to our defense’||03.05.13 at 10:17 am ET|
WALTHAM — If there’s one player on the Celtics to trust when it comes to talking leadership and intensity on defense it’s Kevin Garnett. And when he says Avery Bradley is the most important player in the team’s complex defensive scheme, you can’t help but listen up.
“He is everything to our defense,” Garnett said of Bradley on Monday before practice. “I think he’s the anchor. He’s the true inspiration of what it is. He gets up on the ball, 95, 90 percent of the time. Look at any other guard in the league; no one in the league is playing defense like he is. He’s just tenacious. He’s the silent leader and it’s by example.”
How big has Bradley been?
Last Friday, going up against Stephen Curry, the Celtics trusted him to go man-to-man and disrupt one of the most explosive players in the league. When he picked up his fifth foul with eight minutes left in the third quarter, the Celtics had to switch to a zone. With Bradley back since early January, the Celtics have gone from 25th in the league in defense to ninth, allowing just 95.9 points per game. They have allowed 100 points just six times since. Three of those six went overtime, including the triple-overtime game against Denver on Feb. 10 and another game he missed altogether.
Our Ben Rohrbach made the case for Bradley landing on the NBA All-Defensive team, which at this point seems like a no-brainer.
Reminded that Bradley has occasionally calmed coach Doc Rivers down this season, Garnett said that it’s been Rivers who has been the steadying force in Bradley development this season, especially as a court leader with Rajon Rondo out injured.
“I think it’s the other way around, although he isn’t really loud, he’s very vibrant,” Garnett said. “I don’t think he’s 100 percent, which is scary. I think he’s still working through some things with his past injuries but he’s playing hard and he’s giving us everything he has when he’s on the floor.”
Rivers isn’t asking Bradley to be vocal on the floor, since his play is speaking volumes.
“I think his play speaks for it,” Rivers said. “He has to call plays out and stuff like that. I think he’s verbal, defensively, in what we do. But that’s not anything I’m looking for right now from him. I just want him to keep playing, and playing hard. He plays so hard, he probably can’t speak half the time because he’s exhausted. I just like what he’s doing.”
Rivers said Bradley has been impressive this season after having a pair of shoulder surgeries in the offseason.
“I think he’s 100 percent, leg-wise,” Rivers said. “He’s been 100 percent. I guess if there’s any good thing about having a shoulder [injury], you can still use your legs, conditioning-wise. You can do all the running. As far as his shoulders, I can’t answer that. I don’t know. I would say he would not be 100 percent until next year with that.
With any surgery, especially when you have two, [takes time]. One of the officials in the last game walked up to me and asked, ‘Avery have both shoulders done?’ I said, yeah. He said, ‘Man, I had one done, I was out six months and I still feel bad.’ And I said, ‘That’s why you’re an official.’ I did get three bad calls after that.”
|Doc Rivers: A ‘smarter’ Kevin Garnett is well-rested and ready for stretch||03.04.13 at 5:58 pm ET|
Not this year.
The Celtics coach said Monday he is giving more and more time off to Garnett and he believes it’s paying dividends. Indeed, Rivers may have given the 36-year-old Garnett just one game off but he’s giving the big man much more time off from practice, like this weekend when he told Garnett and Paul Pierce to stay away from the gym on Sunday, when the team had a skeleton practice.
“We’ve given him more time off this year than we ever have for him,” Rivers said. “In the past, we couldn’t even broach that subject with him. This year, he wants the days off. So, I think he’s gotten smarter in that regard and that to me is why he’s been able to play in more games.”
Garnett has played in 57 of Boston’s 58 games, averaging 14.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Most significantly, he’s averaging just a tick over 30 minutes a game, which is right where Rivers wants him. It would be even lower if the Celtics hadn’t played a franchise-record 10 overtime games so far, including the epic triple-OT game against Denver on Feb. 10.
“I think the days off have really helped, the subbing, the second year in a row with it, has helped. The 10 overtime games have not helped. That has not gone the way the planned it but it is what it is.”
Rivers also said that he is not paying particularly close attention to the Eastern conference standings in which is 31-27 Celtics find themselves just two games out of the fourth playoff spot, which would assure them home-court advantage and the opening-round.
That’s not to say Garnett doesn’t see value in being in the gym and working up a sweat.
“They’re very important,” Garnett said Monday, before the team readies for back-to-back road games in Philadelphia and Indiana. “You gain chemistry and you gain timing. New guys coming in, you need these practices. I won’t say the days off aren’t great. Practice is essential.”
Speaking of the new guys, Garnett said he’s ready to work with Terrence Williams, DJ White, Shav Randolph and Jordan Crawford as they assimilate the Celtics’ way.
“I’ve always made myself accessible for anybody who needs me,” Garnett said. “It’s no different for this group of guys here to try and make their transition. If I can make somebody’s transition easier, I will.”
|Danny Ainge: Big part of the second half involves getting Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce healthy||02.28.13 at 5:24 pm ET|
In his weekly appearance on “The Big Show” Thursday, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge talked about a variety of topics, including why Boston didn’t make more deals at the trade deadline and the health of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Ainge was asked as to whether he was concerned at all about the fatigue level of Pierce and Garnett, the latter of whom sat out Friday’s game against the Suns.
“Yes, I always am. Paul and KG have been incredibly durable throughout their entire careers,” Ainge said. “They take good care of themselves, but I do think that they need rest. If we have any chance of winning playoff basketball games, we need those guys fresh, healthy. Paul’s neck thing I think comes and goes, but there was a stretch I think when we were in that losing streak, I actually think that might have been one of the biggest factors. Paul was not 100 percent and yet he continued to play. That’s just who Paul is.
“I think Doc is determined to cut those guys’ minutes down now that we have a little bit more depth on the bench and we get some more bodies in here. That’s a big part of the second half of the season — getting them healthy.”
Ainge also talked about the remarkable run of LeBron James, calling him the “best player in our game today, without question. When it’s all said and done, he could be one of the best players of all time.”
“He’s one of those guys, the first time I ever saw him, in the first five minutes, I questioned whether he could be one of the best basketball players who ever lived,’ recalled Ainge. “And he was 17 years old at the time and he had a similar body — he’s probably 10 or 15 pounds heavier now, but he was so gifted, because he not only could shoot, pass and dribble, but he was the smartest guy on the court. The most intense guy on the court. The most unselfish guy on the court.
“I’ve been one of those people who know that LeBron is not perfect, and he’s been under the microscope since he’s been a young man. I think he’s done a pretty good job handling all this stuff and he continues to get better. Now, people are having to have the conversation about him and Michael Jordan. I think it’s still too early, but he’s getting better. And like Michael, now he’s starting to make mid-range jump shots, 3-point shots, and he’s virtually unguardable with one person. You need two and three people to guard him. If he’s making shots, you just have to tip your cap and pray that he misses.”
Here are some more highlights of the Q&A:
Read the rest of this entry »
|Doc Rivers on D&C: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett will be ‘great when the playoffs start’||at 11:26 am ET|
“I think they’ll be great when the playoffs start,” Rivers said. “I think they’ll be better because there’s more rest, and our key is to get them there fresh.
“I thought that it may have had something to do with Danny [Ainge] not making a trade or doing a trade. I just don’t think anything was out there that appealed to him.”
Curry, Golden State’s sharpshooting guard, dropped 54 points against the Knicks on Wednesday night, albeit in a 109-105 Warriors loss. The 54 points are a season-high for the NBA this season.
“That was special to watch,” Rivers said, adding: “Some of the shots he was making were spectacular. ‘¦ The way he shot the ball and the shots he got — he’s just a great shooter. He’s the best shooter in our league.”
Added Rivers: “When a guy gets in a zone like that, it’s just hard. It’s so easy to say, ‘Deny him,’ but he’s a point guard, so he always has the ball in his hands for the most part. That’s what makes it so difficult. Everyone else who are off the ball, you have a better chance. But a guy with the ball, in that zone, that’s hard.”
|Wyc Grousbeck on M&M: ‘We need some help’||02.26.13 at 2:08 pm ET|
Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck stopped in for a visit with Mut & Merloni on Tuesday to discuss how close Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were to being traded last week, the prospect of being a better team without Rajon Rondo, and more Celtics topics.
Pierce and Garnett were the subjects of many trade rumors leading up to last week’s trade deadline.
“For the last two or three days before the deadline, their names came up more than anybody else,” Grousbeck said. “They were the topic of conversations of calls coming into us because people thought maybe we weren’t going to keep it together this spring.
“The assumption going into any February, as long as I’m around, is going to be: Make the team better for this year. Don’t blow it up in the middle of February if you’re in a playoff position.”
The Celtics are 30-27 and hold the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. They are 2½ games behind the Bulls for the sixth seed, and 2½ games ahead of the eighth-seeded Bucks.
“If we were 5-50 or whatever, we’d be pretty likely to do almost anything to make that better,” Grousbeck said. “But I like the way this team has been playing. We need some help, though. We need some more guys. … The icing on the cake was losing [Leandro] Barbosa. [He] was really playing well, lot of energy, defensive intensity, some length, some offense.”
After this season, Pierce will have one more year left on his contract with the Celtics. Grousbeck talked about the likelihood of the captain retiring in a Celtics uniform.
“We’re going to retire his number, whatever happens,” Grousbeck said. “Paul is an all-time great. Just watching him last night, he looked like he was 25 again. … People can’t say ‘Big deal, they’re playing for two hours. What’s the big hardship?’ It’s a grind and that was a grind last night in overtime and everything else. They could have folded up the tent and they didn’t.”
|Ainge on Big Show: ‘I didn’t want to move’ Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett||02.22.13 at 6:09 pm ET|
‘We really like those guys,’ said Ainge on Friday evening. ‘I like Kevin and I like Paul a lot, and I didn’t want to move them.’
Ainge wouldn’t discuss how close he ever came to trading Garnett to the Clippers for Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan — other than to say, ‘I never talked to Kevin’ — or dealing Pierce to the Nets for Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks and a pick.
“You don’t just give them away,’ he said. ‘There is great value in those guys.’
So, Ainge apparently wasn’t offered a deal that matched the value he places on either Garnett or Pierce, so he never had the opportunity that Red Auerbach had. For some background, here’s what Ainge told The Boston Globe two years ago (h/t @trubygreen):
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