Sunday colimn

Sunday colimn

By Tom E. Curran1. How's your Sunday? I would be remiss if I didn't share with you the staggeringly honest obituary of Robert Hunley right here. 2. I flew out to Seattle Saturday night on JetBlue - a direct flight that landed at around 2 a.m. EST. Fortunately for me, I got an empty row near the back and was able to hog all three TVs on the seatbacks in front of me. It was like Vegas. Without the gambling. And the lights. And a lot of other things. But what happens in Row 24 stays in Row 24. One more note from the sojourn - the snacks and waters were kept in the overhead compartment of Row 24. That meant, during a six-hour flight, the compartment opened several times. And it was closed several times. Hard. Hard enough to get me to pop at least three inches off the seat every time the thing slammed like a rifle shot 30 inches over my head. I can't be sure, but I believe there wasmalicious intent on the part of the flight attendants. 3. Oh yeah, football. Rob Gronkowski had one of the greatest statistical years in NFL history for a tight end in 2011. So I've been looking at his 2012 statisticalperformance thinking it's been really good, but not quite as good as 2011in relative terms. Actually, there's very little difference statistically through five games. Through five in 2012, Gronk's been targeted 34 times, has 23 catches for 295 yards and three touchdowns. In 2011, the numbers were 31, 22, 327 andfive. 4. Wes Welker? If you remember, he was absurdly productive early in 2011. At this point he had 65 (!!) targets for 45 catches, for 740 yards (!!!) and five touchdowns. Currently, he's 52, 38, 484 and 1. If there's ever been a more statistically impressive five-game stretch for a wideout in NFL history, INEED to see it. 5. Two Seahawks defenders to keep an eye onSunday: Kam Chancellor and Red Bryant. Chancellor fascinates the hell out of me because he's so damn big - 6-3, 232 - and can really be a physical presence in the middle of the field whether at strong safety or as an extra coverage linebacker. Bryant was a target of the Patriots this offseason. Mike Reiss of came to Seattle early and caught up with Bryanton Friday. According to Bryant, it came down to family but he told Reiss, "the likelihood of me going there was high." Bryant signed a five year deal that could check in around 35 million when all is said and done. The 28-year-old defensive lineman is 6-3, 323 and models his game after Ty Warren. 6. Players need to cut the crap with the Adderall excuse. The first time I heard it, it came from Brandon Spikes two years ago. And it seemed a plausible oversight. Rookie player, didn't want anyone to know he had ADD medication, didn't know it was viewed as a performance enhancer because it's a stimulant. Now, every time a player gets pinched for a four-game performance enhancer suspension, he blames Adderall. And nobody knows if that's the truth or not because the NFL doesn't say what a guy gets bounced for. Nor should they. But any player who truly does getsuspended forusing Adderall should fire his agent immediately. What are the guys there for if not to shepherd young players through the do's and don'ts of being in the league, the need to disclose ALL medicines and a word to the wise about Adderall. 7. Not having Donta Hightower to aid and abet in bringing down Marshawn Lynchon Sunday is a bad deal. You need all the meat you can bring against him. It will be interesting to see if Steve Gregory is the starting free safety. Tavon Wilson played adequately last week and Gregory was not as impactful as I thought he was going to be when he was on the field. 8. Ryan Wendell and Nate Solder. Pretty much just fine so far. 9. Which reminds me, with the Patriots running for almost 500 yards the past two weeks and leading the NFL in almost every offensive category, the royal screwing they supposedly gave to The Reluctant Guard Brian Waters hasn't been a cause celebre lately. Seems just yesterdaywe heardscreams demanding Bill Belichick crawl to Denton, Texas, make things right and drop rose petals in front of Waters' every step for the rest of the season.A mean andvengeful Belichick, not giving a raise to a guy who didn't want to play football here. Well, I guess that's passed.

Bradley continues adapting, improves ball-handling and court vision


Bradley continues adapting, improves ball-handling and court vision

WALTHAM, Mass. – Just like Avery Bradley comes back each season with a new element in his basketball tool box, defenses have adapted to some degree to try and counter whatever Bradley is doing a better job at.

Before it was take away the mid-range shot and make him a 3-point shooter. Now it’s run him off the 3-point line by closing out hard and fast against him.

Well, running him off the 3-point line is actually playing into the hands of two areas of Bradley’s game that have seen significant growth during the offseason: ball-handling and court vision.

Bradley’s improvement in those areas has been evident in the preseason, something the seventh-year guard hopes to continue in the regular season opener on Wednesday against the Brooklyn Nets.

“I worked on my ball-handling a lot,” Bradley said. “Instead of doing all the Kyrie (Irving) stuff that trainers have people do, I tried to focus on just one or two moves, just perfecting a few moves that I can put into my game.”

What we’ve seen from Bradley is better sense of when to attack players with his ball-handling and when to use it as a set-up to get his teammates good shots.

He attributes both to the work he has put in and just becoming an older, more wiser player on the floor.

“I’m able to make plays for my teammates because I’m a lot more confident in my ball-handling, in my play-making and my decision-making," said the 25-year-old Bradley. "I feel a lot more comfortable out there.”

While it may not seem like that big a deal that Bradley’s putting the ball on the floor more and attacking off the dribble, it’s actually really important for this Celtics team.

With Bradley now looking to attack off the dribble more, that means that the Celtics now have a starting five – Isaiah Thomas, Bradley, Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson and Al Horford – with each player comfortable and confident in their ability to take most defenders and their respective positions, off the dribble.

That makes Boston a significantly better team offensively in terms of being highly unpredictable and to a larger degree, tougher to contain.

“He’s a great defender, one of the best in the NBA,” Boston’s Amir Johnson told “But people sleep on his offensive game. He can hit the corner 3s, wing 3s, pull-up jumpers … he can pretty much do it all out there. Now that he’s looking to get to the rim more, that just makes him and our team really, much better.”

Indeed, Bradley sounds as though he plans to continue probing different ways to generate points for the Celtics.

One approach he’ll surely take is to do a better job of taking advantage of the mistakes defenses make against him, like players who try and chase him off the 3-point line.

“Me being  a better 3-point shooter should challenge me to think the game a little more,” he said. “If it’s drawing fouls … I know I should be drawing more fouls from the 3-point line. There are times when people are just running out of control at me at the 3-point line. I have to be smarter.”

Bradley added, “I worked on that this summer. It’s translated in practice, so now it needs to translate in games.”