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.

Quotes, notes and stars: Wright 'able to neutralize' top of Orioles lineup

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Quotes, notes and stars: Wright 'able to neutralize' top of Orioles lineup

BALTIMORE -- Quotes, notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 7-2 win over the Orioles.

 

QUOTES

"He was able to neutralize their top half (of the lineup) and that was the biggest thing.'' - John Farrell on Steven Wright.

"He never broke stride, continued in a full-out gait around third base. It was a good heads-up play on his part.'' - Farrell on Mookie Betts scoring all the way from second on a swinging bunt.

"It kind of throws them off because then if I leave one up, I'm hoping the difference in the speed will get them out front.'' - Steven Wright on changing speeds on the knuckleball.

"Yeah, I do. Off the field. Not when I'm at the park, but off the field, I do.'' - Xander Bogaerts, acknowledging that he does think about his ongoing hitting streak.

"It was amazing. Hitting my first home run and putting us ahead three (more) runs, it's awesome.'' - Marco Hernandez on his first major league home run.

 

NOTES:

* Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 23 games with two doubles.

* Marco Hernandez's three-run homer in the eighth inning was his first major league homer.

* Mookie Betts has now reached in 13 straight games against the Orioles.

* Betts has scored 14 runs in his last 11 games.

* In his last seven games, David Ortiz is 14-for-28 in his last seven games.

* Ortiz has seven homers in his last 12 games at Camden Yards and 12 homers in his last 16 games here.

* Ortiz has homered in each of his last three games, the 18th time in his career that he's done that.

* Steven Wright tossed a career-high 122 pitches.

* Wright became the third Red Sox starter to toss three consecutive complete games on the road since Roger Clemens in 1991-92.

 

STARS:

1) Steven Wright

Wright's third complete game of the season was a gem, with just four hits allowed - just three them into the outfield. He's got a 1.79 ERA on the road this season.

2) Xander Bogaerts

In addition to extending his hitting streak to 23 games, Bogaerts had two doubles and knocked in two runs.

3) Marco Hernandez

Hernandez's first big league homer was a big one, extending what had been a two-run lead to a five-run cushion with a three-run blast in the eighth