|Celtics pregame: Avery Bradley, Jaylen Brown out through break, Brad Stevens makes Al Horford All-Star argument||02.15.17 at 7:50 pm ET|
Avery Bradley really wants to get back to playing.
But the Celtics want him 100 percent when the games really matter in April and May.
To that end, Bradley understands the Celtics being ultra-cautious with his sore right Achilles, which is just about fully healed.
That injury forced him to miss his 15th straight game Wednesday and will keep him out as well on Thursday night in Chicago. Bradley has played just once since Jan. 6.
“It’s frustrating,” Bradley said before Wednesday’s game against Philadelphia. “I guess it’s just part of the game and part of being smart. I want to play and play through it but the team advised me that this is not the time to take that risk right now and something potentially happen to my Achilles or a different injury.”
Bradley and the team are not just protecting against the existing injury but trying to make sure he doesn’t compensate unconsciously and injure something else.
“It was just a decision to make together and we felt like it’s the best one,” Bradley continued. “It’s feeling really good.”
But Bradley admitted he hasn’t worked on the court much lately and getting back in basketball shape will be key.
“I really haven’t done much,” he said. “I’ve been doing more conditioning and strengthening, upper body and lower body, just making sure I’m strong enough for when I do return. Now, we’re getting the basketball stuff in, so I’m hoping over the All-Star [break], I can play some basketball and be ready for the first game.”
Brad Stevens sounded much more cautious when asked about Bradley and Jaylen Brown (hip).
“Both guys are out for the next two games with the hope of doing some practice when we return,” Stevens said.
After Thursday’s game in Chicago, the Celtics are off for eight days, resuming their schedule in Toronto on Feb. 24 against the Serge Ibaka-revitalized Raptors.
All-Star push: Brad Stevens suddenly has an open roster spot on his Eastern Conference squad Sunday in New Orleans. Kevin Love is out at least six weeks with impending knee surgery. Stevens has no say in Love’s replacement but he has a natural suggestion should anyone ask.
Al Horford may not be putting up huge numbers (14.8 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 5.0 APG) but they are first, second and second respectively on a team that is just two games out of first place in the East. Expectations have been as big as Horford’s four-year, $113 million contract. But according to his coach, he’s been a big part of why the Celtics have risen to the top in the East.
“I always base my decision on who is really impacting winning, and I think that’s why Al would be a good choice,” Stevens said before Wednesday’s game. “I’m hopeful Al gets that call. It’s not our call. But there’s a lot of good players in this league. It doesn’t take anything away from anybody else. We certainly hope Al gets that call.”
If Stevens was being somewhat (understandably) understated in his praise of Horford, Sixers coach Brett Brown was not. He also said the Celtics have risen to the top but went even further in his praise of the man once coached by Brett Brown’s good friend Mike Budenholzer in Atlanta. Brown and Budenholzer coached together under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio.
“You can’t even put a price tag on that. He was coached by a close friend of mine in Atlanta for a while,” Brown said of Horford’s days in Atlanta. “If you just go to the person, there’s a veteran class and there’s an elite mind, basketball mind, and then you can start talking about his actual game. So, what he does to a locker room, what he does from experience perspective and you take the unusual skill package in that he can bring you out and stretch the court.
“Even when you study the last time that we played here, Joel [Embiid] gets sucked in on a drive and they kick it to Al in the corner for a three, that’s an unusual match-up for a 7-foot-2 center. I think that Brad does a really good job, creative job on using Olynyk and Horford, especially, with how they can stretch the floor, and Amir [Johnson], letting Amir shoot corner threes. Kind of all over the place, off-the-court locker room stuff, I think it’s just a sensational acquisition and piece that they have made to legitimately look at them now as one of the elite teams in the East. It’s a wonderful building block, for sure.”
The Celtics are 7-5 without Horford in the lineup this season.
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|Full Court Press: What Game 7 could mean to future of Celtics, Warriors try not to join 2007 Patriots||06.18.16 at 9:42 pm ET|
Danny Ainge, son Austin and head coach Brad Stevens don’t have a horse in the race but they will be watching Game 7 of the NBA finals Sunday night with more than just a passing interest.
A pair of scoring forwards could be on the move after the game, and both have been rumored on the radar of the Celtics.
Cleveland’s Kevin Love could be playing his final game in Cleveland if they decide to unload him this offseason. He has four years and approximately $93 million left on his $113 million deal, which includes a $25 million kiss in the final season (2019-20), when he will be 31.
Golden State’s Harrison Barnes, 24, could be a much cheaper option. He is due a qualifying offer of about $5.2 million and is in the same contractual boat as Jared Sullinger. Both are set to become restricted free agents after next season but both could be cut loose after this season. Barnes has already rejected a four-year, $64 million deal, turning down the Warriors last September.
Both players are represented by agent Jeff Schwartz, the same rep for projected No. 2 pick Brandon Ingram. Danny Ainge reportedly met recently with Schwartz and, while it certainly would not be uncommon for Ainge to talk with agents before next Thursday’s draft, it would be tampering for him to publicly discuss players currently under contract with other teams.
A quick glance at Love’s stats in the NBA finals and it’s easy to understand why Celtics fans are so very skeptical of bringing his $93 million anchor to Boston. He’s averaged just seven points and 21 minutes in five games (DNP Gm 3). He’s again been beset by injuries (concussion) but when he has played, he’s looked out of place. It’s up to the Celtics to determine if that mostly because he’s being misused and kept on the perimeter or if he’s not looking for his shot. He is shooting just 36.8 percent from the floor in the finals and 38 percent in the postseason. On the bright side, he is averaging 14.9 points and 8.5 rebounds in 19 playoff games heading into Game 7 in Oakland.
By comparison, Barnes is coming off his worst game of the postseason, missing all eight shots in Thursday’s Game 6 loss in Cleveland. He was held scoreless in 16 minutes. In Games 1, 3 and 4, he was in double figures and a key part of Golden State wins in two of them. But he went 2-for-14 in Game 5 last Monday and 0-for-8 on Thursday, making him 2-for-22 in potential title-clinching games so far. He is averaging nine points and 4.8 rebounds in 31 minutes during the playoffs. He is someone to keep an eye on in Game 7 if the Warriors need some offense. The “Death Lineup” has been exactly that to Barnes’ hopes of promoting his value to potential suitors this summer.
We haven’t even mentioned the fact that LeBron James is a free agent this summer as well. There always exists the possibility that James could leave Cleveland, especially if the Cavs come back and finish off the first 3-1 comeback in NBA finals history. Not likely, but then again, it is LeBron and worth mentioning, even if in passing.
|Kevin Love wasn’t looking for a high-five from LeBron James, and here’s video proof||06.14.16 at 11:45 am ET|
I don’t know why I care about this, since I eviscerated Kevin Love this morning as a bad fit for the Celtics after another no-show performance in Game 5 of the Finals on Monday night, but there’s a widely shared Vine making the rounds that isn’t accurate.
You’ve probably seen it, but if not, here it is:
Looks pretty damning, right? Poor Kevin Love just wants LeBron to love him, and King James yells at him instead.
But what really happened was more pedestrian. One play earlier, Love looked slow on his defensive rotations, allowing an Andre Iguodala follow-up dunk, and LeBron let him know it, as you can see with the quick gesture.
LeBron was mad at this play moments earlier. Love wasn’t looking for 5. He was pleading his case.
— John Tomase (@jtomase) June 14, 2016
So now watch the “denied five” in its entirety. Love isn’t looking for love. He’s pleading his case, like, “I had my hands up. What do you want from me?”
I don’t know why I care about this, but Kevin love didn’t want 5. LeBron was mad he didn’t box out prior play. https://t.co/QQu3dYUDiN
— John Tomase (@jtomase) June 14, 2016
Of course, if you want to note that LeBron was being totally dismissive of Love and treating him like a JV teammate called up to the varsity for a day because someone was sick, that’s fair game.
But to say he refused a high five and that made Love sad is simply not true.
|Celtics Choice: Dragan Bender vs. Kevin Love||06.07.16 at 4:24 pm ET|
In the days leading up to June 23’s NBA draft, we examine what the Celtics could do with the No. 3 overall pick and how they should approach this pivotal offseason. In that spirit, we present “Celtics choice.”
Today: Using the third pick on Croatian big man Dragan Bender or trading it as part of a package to land Cavaliers forward Kevin Love.
The case for Bender
In a word, potential. Seven-foot-1 athletes with 3-point shooting range and the quickness to defend inside and out don’t come along very often, and the immediate success of Kristaps Porzingis in New York will undoubtedly have an NBA team hoping lightning can strike twice with Bender, who spent the season playing limited minutes in a reserve role for Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel’s top professional league. That kind of experience against veteran competition should only help Bender transition to the NBA, but even the most optimistic assessment doesn’t have him making an impact for at least a couple of years. NBA scouts love his lateral quickness, 9-foot-3 reach, and feel for the game. He’s considered a gifted passer with the kind of shooting stroke that suggests he’ll have NBA range in due time.
The case against Bender
In a word, potential. While Bender could end up being Porzingis or (best-case scenario) Dirk Nowitzki, he could also go the route of Darko Milicic. No one knows for certain how he’ll handle NBA competition, if he’ll add enough strength to compete on the boards, if he’ll take his game to another level. There’s also his lack of playing time in Israel this year, which has produced modest stats (5.5 points, 3 rebounds per game). Still only 18 years old, Bender is a mystery even to teams that have scouted him extensively overseas. He will require time to develop when he arrives, and a team like the Celtics, with an ownership and fan base that expects to win now, might not have the stomach to endure the inevitable growing pains. There’s a chance he gets completely swallowed up by the strength of NBA players at the point of attack, leaving him as a Brad Lohaus-type, which definitely isn’t worthy of the third pick.
The case for Love
In a word, experience. There are no mysteries about Cleveland’s third wheel. He’s a proven All-Star in the NBA with the ability to lead an offense as an elite scorer — he twice averaged over 26 a game in Minnesota — and he can score in any number of ways. A traditional post presence early in his career, Love has since added legit NBA 3-point range to emerge as one of the best stretch-4s in the game, even if he hates that term. He made just 2-of-19 3-pointers as a rookie in 2008-09, but saw those numbers increase to 190-for-505 during his final season in Minnesota before joining the Cavaliers last season. Add tremendous rebounding ability (11.5 per game lifetime), excellent vision to pass out of double teams, and the title of the game’s best outlet passer, and Love is a legit superstar.
|Celtics choice: Kevin Love vs. Paul George||05.26.16 at 10:39 am ET|
As the days pass leading up to June’s NBA Draft, we want to encourage the debate regarding what the Celtics should do with the No. 3 overall pick. In that spirit, we present, “Celtics choice.”
Today: Using the No. 3 pick to trade for Cavaliers forward Kevin Love or Pacers forward Paul George.
The case for Love
At 27, one of the best pure scoring forwards in the game is in his prime. Returning from shoulder surgery, he scored 27 of his season-high 34 points in the first half of the Cavaliers’ win over the Magic in November. On Jan. 29, 2016, he had his best game since November 23, scoring 29 points on 9-of-19 shooting in a win over the Detroit Pistons. That game also marked the first time all season that Love, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving each reached 20 points in a game. He helped the Cavaliers finished the regular season as the first seed in the East with a 57–25 record. For the second straight season, he was the perfect complement to James and Irving, after overcoming his shoulder problems that started with Kelly Olynyk in the first round of the ’15 playoffs. He finished this season averaging 16 points and 9.9 rebounds a game. In the first round of the playoffs, Love recorded playoff career highs with 28 points and 13 rebounds in a Game 1 win over the Pistons.
The case against Love
Consistency. Last July, Love re-signed with the Cavaliers on a 5-year, $113 million max deal. He has four years left on it. Love can have games where he shows exactly why he’s paid so handsomely. He can also go long stretches where his production drops way off. In Games 3 and 4 against the Raptors, both losses, Love was 5-for-23 with 13 points total in the two games. Starting with a Christmas Day loss at Golden State, he went a full month and scored just 20 points once in 17 games. His numbers have dropped off in Cleveland. The drop from 26 points per game to 16 a game the last two seasons in Cleveland is understandable with LeBron and Irving scoring so much. But the falloff in rebounding is more alarming, as he’s gone from a league-leading 15.4 rebounds a game in Minnesota in 2011-12 to 9.9 rebounds per game in Cleveland. Danny Ainge has always like long, athletic shooters from the wing and has been looking for one but the question is whether Love is really worth the $113 million?
|Are the Celtics the 3rd team in a Kevin Love, Ryan Anderson trade?||02.17.16 at 9:30 pm ET|
The on-again, off-again Kevin Love discussion are apparently on again. Or not.
The Cavaliers have discussed a deal with the Pelicans that would bring Ryan Anderson back to Cleveland, according to The Vertical’s Marc J. Spears, and that potential trade could send Kevin Love packing to a third team, according to New York Daily News reporter Frank Isola.
Those reports have led to rampant speculation that the C’s could be that third team, as Danny Ainge has long lusted after Love and has the assets to live out his desires. As with the three-team deal involving Love’s Cavs, Carmelo Anthony’s Knicks and the Celtics, these reports should be taken with a silo of salt.
Thus ends the latest round of Kevin Love rumors. Until an hour from now, when they’re off again.
ESPN NBA analyst Jackie MacMullan checked in with Ordway, Merloni & Fauria on Wednesday to discuss the upcoming NBA trade deadline. To hear the interview, go to the OM&F audio on demand page.
MacMullan feels the Celtics and Danny Ainge will make another run at Kevin Love. She feels Love has gotten a “raw deal” in Cleveland, but ultimately she doesn’t think Love will be dealt because of where the Cavaliers are at in the standings.
“I do believe that Danny is going to make another run at Kevin Love because we know that he’s coveted Love all along,” MacMullan said. “The one thing that I think is interesting about Love, everybody is down on him — well, he stretches the floor, which we know Brad Stevens likes, right? Well, he can’t defend and I don’t know how you guys feel about real plus/minus, I tend to be a fan and I am sure the Celtics have things that are much more sophisticated than what we use at ESPN for real plus/minus, but just for the heck of it, I looked it up this morning on Kevin Love. He’s 12th overall in the league. That is pretty good.
“His defensive numbers right now — his defensive plus/minus is better than his offensive plus/minus. I think Kevin Love gets a raw deal when it comes to the Cleveland Cavaliers and maybe why they aren’t performing maybe as well as they should. In fact, we know Kyrie Irving is coming off some pretty severe injuries, look at his numbers, they are horrible. His defensive real plus/minus is minus 3.22. The only point guard who plays significantly in the league that is worse are guys like Brandon Knight and actually Derek Rose. I think Kevin Love gets a raw deal.
“I would be thrilled if the Celtics could bring Kevin Love here, I just don’t think it’s going to happen. If I am Cleveland, I’m the best team in the East and we all know every team — Golden State, San Antonio, they are one injury away from being vulnerable, I’m standing pat for the most part.”
To hear the complete interview, check it out below.
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