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Stephen Curry, Tom Brady and the NBA All-Defensive power of Avery Bradley 02.28.13 at 6:33 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Celtics coach Doc Rivers and captain Paul Pierce both had high praise for Avery Bradley before Thursday’s practice. The C’s guard will have the unenviable task Friday of guarding Warriors counterpart Stephen Curry, who scored 54 points against the Knicks in Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.

  • Pierce: “I think every great team needs a player like that, especially a great defensive team. With so many great scorers in this league and great individual play, you need that one guy who can go out there and kind of slow those types of guys down. We have that in Avery Bradley. He’s shown a willingness to sacrifice so much. I believe he can give us a lot more defensively, but he’s so great on the defensive end that it has an impact on this whole team. You don’t have to double as much, you don’t have to give as much help when you’ve got a guy like that who can defend at a high level. In my eyes, he’s probably the best on-the-ball defender in the NBA. I’d be very surprised if he didn’t make the All-Defensive Team.”
  • Rivers: “They’re picking him now. They’re getting him off of [his assignments], and that’s what they should do, but it’s nice to have a guy that can pressure the ball. I don’t know if Avery’s going to shut down everyone, but I know he’s going to give you the attempt to pressure, and ball pressure is important. I just use a football analogy: If you didn’t blitz Tom Brady and you just let him sit back there all day, he’s going to pick you apart. It’s the same in basketball. If you let the passers just sit there with no pressure, they’re going to pick you apart. And Avery is our blitzer.”

For more on the NBA All-Defensive case for Bradley, read this column.

Do you think Avery Bradley will make one of the two NBA All-Defensive teams this season?

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Danny Ainge: Big part of the second half involves getting Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce healthy at 5:24 pm ET
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Danny Ainge (AP)

Danny Ainge (AP)

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:
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Paul Pierce: Pinched nerve causing ‘up-and-down’ performance, will last ‘until the season’s over’ at 1:10 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Two weeks, Celtics president Danny Ainge divulged during a game broadcast that Paul Pierce had been playing through a pinched nerve in his neck for two months, and before Thursday’s practice the C’s captain admitted the pain will continue for the rest of the season, if not longer.

“I probably won’t be fully recovered from it until the season’s over, if I ever do,” said Pierce. “I’ve probably got a little bit of nerve damage in the back part of my neck, but it’s something I’ve been playing through over the last couple months, so I’m probably about as healthy as I’m probably going to be for the rest of the season right now.”

Pierce shot below 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from 3-point range in January, and while those numbers improved this month, he’s having his worst shooting season in nearly a decade, making just 41.9 percent of his field goals after converting better than 44 percent in each of his previous five seasons.

“I really don’t try to pay attention to it during the game,” he said. “I don’t let little injuries try to affect me. I don’t really think about it. It’s probably been the reason I’ve been up-and-down a lot. Sometimes you get a sharp pain. There are times when I have a stinger go through the same part of my neck where the pain is happening, and it’s happening a lot more than normal, whether it be in practice or a game, so it’s something I’ll deal with after the season.”

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Irish Coffee: The 41 best parts of the most revealing Rajon Rondo interview to date 02.25.13 at 10:45 am ET
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How will Rajon Rondo adapt upon returning to the Celtics next season? This interview may reveal the answer. (AP)

How will Rajon Rondo adapt upon returning to the Celtics next season? This interview may reveal the answer. (AP)

Rajon Rondo doesn’t usually trust the media, which makes the fact he told Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins a reason for that — his father left home in his formative years — all the more fascinating. This Jenkins piece is the definitive Rondo feature, even if most of the reporting took place prior to the Celtics point guard’s season-ending ACL injury. It offers insights we rarely ever see into the enigmatic NBA All-Star. Here are 41 great ones.

  • Rondo loves Shirley Temples. So do his Celtics teammates. “Waitresses are like, ‘What?’ I feel like I have to add a splash of Patron, and I don’t even really drink.”
  • Rondo loves Connect Four. Honing his skills on the front porch of his mom’s College Court home in Louisville, Ky., he plays at charitable events, if only to avoid the awkwardness. Three days before this past Christmas, after handing out bikes, Razor scooters and iPod Touches, he lost for the first time in roughly a thousand charity games. “I can’t believe it. But did you notice I played the guy five more times and won them all? I had to show him, ‘You beat me, but I’lll beat the [expletive] out of you.” His opponent was a 12-year-old named Olisa. Talk about awkward.
  • Rondo doesn’t like game-time decisions. “They just want an excuse if they don’t play well.”
  • Rondo doesn’t like playing grab-ass. “I’m not trying to make friends. We can talk in the summer.”
  • Kevin Garnett: “With Rajon, there ain’t no [expletive]ing around.”
  • Rondo admits, ”A lot of times I’ll be shooting and think, Maybe I should pass.”

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Ainge on Big Show: ‘I didn’t want to move’ Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett 02.22.13 at 6:09 pm ET
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Danny Ainge (AP)

Danny Ainge (AP)

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge didn’t want to trade Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett at the NBA trade deadline — not for pennies on the dollar, he told the Big Show.

“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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Straight out of China: D.J. White in Celtics’ sights at 11:22 am ET
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The Celtics are interested in the services of former Bobcats big D.J. White, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein.

Playing alongside Gilbert Arenas on the Shanghai Sharks, White averaged 21.6 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 1.3 assists in 33.0 minutes a night over 32 games in the Chinese Basketball Association this season. The Sharks finished their season on Sunday. The 6-foot-9, 235-pound power forward averaged 14.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per 36 minutes in 124 games over four NBA seasons with the Thunder and Bobcats. He’s 26 years old.

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Irish Coffee: The day Kevin Garnett both slapped Jordan Crawford, barked at Ricky Rubio at 10:45 am ET
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This Jordan Crawford gem of a photo comes courtesy of The Washington Post. What's that saying about pictures being worth words?

This Jordan Crawford gem comes via The Washington Post. What’s that saying about pictures being worth words?

Remember the NBA lockout? Fun times. All those Rajon Rondo corn hole tosses, Ray Allen golf foursomes and Jeff Green exhibition games (thankfully not just corn hole, foursomes and exhibition). We cared about workouts, too, like those involving Kevin Garnett in Los Angeles. Newest Celtics guard Jordan Crawford was there as well, and they apparently didn’t get along so well.

Yahoo! Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski (who else?) wrote this in a feature about Ricky Rubio on Nov. 19, 2011 (h/t @DDuggan21):

On this day, everyone was still buzzing over Washington Wizards guard Jordan Crawford’s mistake of talking too much to Garnett a day earlier. When Boston Celtics teammate Paul Pierce tried to do Crawford a favor and push him away, Crawford urged Pierce to let K.G. go.

“I thought they were just kidding,” Rubio says, and maybe Crawford did too.

There are hard lessons to be learned in this league, lockout or not lockout. Eventually, Garnett reminded Crawford about that with a smack upside his head, a reminder to Crawford, Rubio and the rest of them: Elders will be respected.

Garnett has a history of initiating European players in the NBA, and one witness in the gym had recently watched him respond to a Rubio move with the ball by barking, “That’s a traveling here. We don’t do that [expletive] here.” And on and on.

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