Bass' hard work shines through in big-stage performance

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Bass' hard work shines through in big-stage performance

BOSTON Brandon Bass spends too much time working on his game for it to not pay off eventually.

Monday was indeed the night that Bass cashed in as he tallied a playoff career-high 27 points in helping the Celtics knock off Philadelphia, 101-85, to take a 3-2 series lead over the Sixers with Game 6 in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

The way the Sixers have been defending Paul Pierce, getting good looks at the basket has not been much of a problem for Bass.

The issue has been him knocking them down, something he did plenty of in Game 5 which included him shooting 9-of-13 from the field, in addition to grabbing six rebounds.

"They've been doubling Paul and we got a few good players on the team that they've got focus on," Bass said. "So they left me open (in Game 5) and I was able to hit the shots."

But Bass becoming a one-man scoring machine involved more than him just knocking down jumpers - and that's what makes his performance in Game 5 a tough one to handle if you're the Sixers.

At this stage of the game, teams don't normally make radical changes to how they defend one another. And conversely, players - the best players - generally try to stick with what they've been doing best.

But Bass clearly caught the Sixers off-guard when he began to hurt them with an offensive game that entailed more than just mid-range jumpers.

"They were just quicker to the basket, Brandon was," said Sixers head coach Doug Collins. "He didn't depend (in Game 5), strictly on his jump-shot. He made some dunks, got in the paint and what happens is that opens up the basket for you. All of a sudden that basket looks a lot bigger for that jump-shot. He must have had three, four, maybe five dunks (in Game Five)."

It was actually three dunks, all in Bass' dominant third quarter which saw him out-score the Sixers, 18-16.

Bass, who spoke at a podium for the first time during the playoffs here - or anywhere for that matter - didn't know that he had that good a quarter until someone mentioned it to him.

"It's a blessing for me," Bass said. "It's just hard work. I've been working at it for a long time and I'm just grateful it was able to pay off."

That hard work includes spending time after practice working on his game, in addition to siting around watching video.

It all added up to a monster game for Bass, one that he hasn't really given much thought to in terms of its impact on him and the Celtics moving forward.

"You know as many jumpers as Bass hit, he had lay-ups and free throws," said Sixers forward Elton Brand who had a team-high 19 points. "That's how you get 27 points, on those 13 shots."

It was the kind of performance that might make the jobs of Pierce, Allen, Garnett and Rondo easier as well.

Because they all know when Bass is playing this well, the Celtics become a difficult team to compete with, let alone defeat.

"We need different guys, on different nights to step up," Pierce said. "A lot of times they're gonna collapse on me, Rondo, KG and there's opportunities for other guys to take advantage."

Bass did just that in a game in which he played bigger than anyone anticipated, and displayed the kind of cool under pressure that even he admits probably wasn't around when he did his post-game interview at the podium.

"This is the first time for a lot of things for me," Bass said. "And I'm grateful! That's why you see all these beads (of sweat) on my forehead, 'cause I'm nervous. But I'm grateful. Like I said, I haven't thought too much about it (his big game); for me, it's just hard work. My motto is God, grind, greatness. And grindin' is what got me, ya know, to this point and that's what I'm gonna continue to do."

Bradley (Achilles) 'felt good' during return to Celtics lineup

Bradley (Achilles) 'felt good' during return to Celtics lineup

WALTHAM, Mass. – As the final horn blew in Boston’s 108-98 win over Charlotte on Monday night, the game was a win-win kind of night for Avery Bradley.

The Celtics (26-15) continue rolling over opponents at the TD Garden, and he played a relatively pain-free 33 minutes in the win.

It was Bradley’s first game back after missing the previous four with a strained right Achilles injury.

And the fact that he was back on the practice floor on Tuesday (be it a light practice, mind you), bodes well for his injury being a thing of the past now.

“I felt good. It wasn’t sore at all in the game,” Bradley said. “I felt I was moving good. After the game I was a little sore and this morning, but otherwise I felt good.”

Despite Boston being 4-1 this season when Bradley doesn’t play, he has immense value to this Celtics team at both ends of the floor.

Offensively he has been Boston’s second-leading scorer most of this season and currently averages a career-high 17.7 points per game along with 6.9 rebounds which is also a career high.

And defensively, Bradley is coming off a season in which he was named to the NBA’s all-Defensive First Team for the first time.

Any questions or concerns about the Achilles affecting his play defensively were put to rest Monday night when he put the defensive clamps on Nicolas Batum who missed nine of his 11 shots from the field while primarily being guarded by Bradley.

Now his offense, that’s another story.

Bradley failed to reach double digits scoring for the first time this season as he missed seven of his nine shots on Monday to finish with just five points.

But part of that had to do with Bradley passing up shots he normally takes, as well as him missing some he normally knocks down.

Considering his lay-off and the rhythm his teammates have been in shooting the ball in his absence, Bradley wisely decided to get his defensive bearings on track and gradually bring his offensive game around. 

“I have to get my (shooting) rhythm back,” said Bradley who is making a career-best 40.9 percent of his 3-pointers this season. “I’m fine. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s game.”