Ainge: Bradley's return raised Celtics intensity level

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Ainge: Bradley's return raised Celtics intensity level

If the Celtics can end up in the same place they found themselves at the end of last season -- just a few minutes away from winning Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals -- they'd certainly take it. So it might be taken as good news that Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge thinks this season is closely resembles the way in which the last one played out.

Ainge sat down with Comcast SportsNet's Greg Dickerson to discuss all things Celtics: their start to the season, Avery Bradley's impact, Kevin Garnett's energy level and more.

When asked to assess the Celtics to this point, Ainge thought back 12 months.

"Very much like last season," Ainge said. "I think we got off to a slow start. I didn't think our motivation night in and night out was where it needed to be. I didn't believe the confidence in one another was where you would like it. But these last seven games, even though it's only six (wins) in a row, these last seven we've played much harder."

Ainge tried to explain the slow start as the by product of having a veteran team that knows just how long a season can feel once it gets into the spring.

"I think it's just a challenge. The season is a grind," Ainge said. "They know it. It's a marathon."

But, as anyone who follows the team could tell you, Ainge acknowledged that something changed when Avery Bradley returned to the floor after recovering from offseason shoulder surgeries.

"I don't know what it is, but when Avery came back, it seemed like there was more confidence in one another," Ainge said. "It was like he was a guy that could bring energy to us. That sort of supplied the energy.

"It wasn't like Avery was playing great, other than he was bringing amazing defensive energy and cohesion to the team," Ainge continued. "When he arrived, all of a sudden, each player, you could see their intensity rise."

Even with Kevin Garnett, that was the case. The team's defensive stalwart and emotional leader lacked for energy at times, Ainge thought. Even though he always brings his best, Ainge explained that it's sometimes up to Garnett's teammates to really get the most out of him.

"I think KG would tell you he brings it every night, and I believe that . . . But sometimes even Kevin needs confidence that his teammates will bring it too," Ainge said. "He can't do it by himself. I think KG may have benefited from Avery's return as much as anybody."

Check out the rest of the above video for more from Ainge's point of view.

WATCH: Bruins' Backes battles with Benn right after opening faceoff

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WATCH: Bruins' Backes battles with Benn right after opening faceoff

Now THIS is old-time hockey!

There's bad blood between the Bruins' David Backes and the Stars' Jamie Benn that goes back a long way, most recently in last spring's Dallas-St. Louis playoff series when Backes was still with the Blues. They met again today -- and the ungodly (hockey) hour of 11:30 a.m. Dallas time -- for a nationally televised game between Backes' new team, the Bruins, and the Stars.

And it didn't take long for the two to renew acquaintances . . .

Pistons to honor Hamilton, who had impact on several Celtics

Pistons to honor Hamilton, who had impact on several Celtics

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- The Detroit Pistons will retire the jersey number of former UConn star Rip Hamilton tonight, an instrumental figure in the Pistons’ success in the early 2000s that included an NBA title in 2004.
 
Although Hamilton never played for Boston, his impact can be felt within the Celtics locker room.
 
Boston’s Amir Johnson spent his first four NBA seasons as a teammate of Hamilton's in Detroit.
 
In that time, Johnson acknowledges how many of the positive things folks associate with him come from lessons he learned from Hamilton.
 
“He was so relentless when he ran,” Johnson told CSNNE.com. “I remember working out with him one summer. For him to even get his shot off, he sprints full court, goes back down shooting shots, and he just kept doing this over and over and over again, full court sprinting . . . To see that as a young kid, and at his age, just working hard like that, it was great to see.”
 
James Young grew up in nearby Rochester Hills, Mich., so he watched Hamilton’s scoring prowess up close and personal.
 
And as he continued to evolve as a player, Young would see Hamilton during the summer months while attending Hamilton’s basketball camps.
 
“I was there every year, won MVP a few times,” Young told CSNNE.com. “He’s a great guy, a great player.”
 
And, like Hamilton, Young has a lanky frame for an NBA player, which was among the many reasons Young acknowledged Hamilton as being one of his first significant basketball influences as a youth.
 
“For sure,” Young said. “His mid-range game was crazy, great shooter. He was always consistent.”
 
And that consistency has paid off in the highest honor an NBA franchise can bestow upon a player.
 
“That’s big time,” Johnson said. “He’s a champion, great father, great baller. To have his jersey retired is an honor. To see the success he had in the league, and to see his jersey retired with the greats, it's definitely an honor. I’m glad I’ll be there to see that. Kudos to him. He’s a hard worker. Had a great career. I had my high school jersey retired, but to get your NBA jersey retired, that’s great.”
 
Hamilton played 14 seasons in the NBA, nine of which were with the Pistons. A career 17.1 points per game score, he averaged 18.4 with Detroit and was named an Eastern Conference All-Star three times (2006-2008).
 
Although he is known as one of the greatest mid-range shooters of his era, Hamilton began to expand his range over time. During the 2005-06 season, Hamilton shot 45.8 percent from 3-point range (most of them being corner 3’s), which led the NBA that season.