Battle rages for backup guard spot

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Battle rages for backup guard spot

BOSTON The Boston Celtics are clearly looking to get younger at a number of positions. Nowhere is this more apparent than the battle being waged now for the backup shooting guard job, behind Ray Allen.

While there are a handful of Celtics likely to see some action as Allen's backup this season, two of the younger contenders - rookie E'Twaun Moore and second-year guard Avery Bradley - certainly made a strong case for the job during Friday's intra-squad scrimmage at the TD Garden.

With the game undecided with seconds to play, Moore, playing for the Green team which was comprised primarily of backups, nailed a 3-pointer in the final seconds to put them ahead.

But Bradley, not to be outdone, countered with a baseline, game-winning jumper as the final horn sounded to lift the White team to a 52-51 win.

After the game, Celtics head coach Doc Rivers talked about how both players are very much in the mix for playing time behind Allen whose minutes, according to Rivers, will be cut back this season.

"Somebody will win it," Rivers said of the backup job behind Allen. "And we're going to let them. We're honest with guys. There's a spot there, and all of you aren't going to play it. So it's been a competitive camp because of that."

Of all the new faces, Moore has arguably been the biggest surprise thus far.

A late second-round pick in last June's NBA draft by the Celtics, Moore has been among the more consistent performers for the C's thus far in training camp.

That confidence and poise is in part because he spent four years in college.

"I was basically taking what they were giving us," Moore said. "Just having confidence can lead you a long way. And I had confidence to knock down shots when I was open."

Bradley's confidence seems to be on the rise as well.

It certainly was in the final moments of Friday's game.

But afterward, Bradley acknowledged that the game-winning play was not the one drawn up.

"It was supposed to be a lob," Bradley said. "I wasn't in it at all. I was a decoy. I was open and Quis (Marquis Daniels) passed it to me."

It was a great ending to a game that didn't get off to the best of starts for Bradley.

"Avery I thought struggled for the first three-fourths (of the scrimmage), just trying to do too much, went to fast," Rivers said. "That's where you see, what we see. But he does have the ability to get to the basket. He does have the ability to get fouled. And that last shot, that's just a great shot."

However, Rivers said he was more impressed with Moore's 3-pointer.

"That was a play when he had to make a decision," Rivers said. "Shoot it, or throw it to Ray. Most of the time, even though he's open, most guys would throw it to Ray. And he didn't hesitate. That's what I like about him. He can really shoot the basketball."

Which certainly bodes well in his quest to become Allen's backup this season.

"I guess, it's a wide open spot," Moore said. "I just have to keep coming to work everyday. Nothing is going to be given to me. I gotta earn it. I just have to keep working hard and hopefully get some playing time.

Bradley echoed similar sentiments.

"I know everybody is going to be working hard for that position," Bradley said. "I know I'm going to come in every day and work hard and do everything that Doc tells me to do. Whoever gets the position, gets it. But at the end of the day, I'm going to come in and I'm always going to grind and I'm always going to work hard."

WATCH: Celtics vs. Hornets

WATCH: Celtics vs. Hornets

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Celtics-Hornets preview: Boston, Charlotte heading in opposite directions

Celtics-Hornets preview: Boston, Charlotte heading in opposite directions

BOSTON -- The last time Boston saw the Charlotte Hornets last month, both teams were streaking in the wrong direction with each coming in having lost three in a row.

Both come into tonight’s game streaking, although in two very different directions.

Boston (25-15) has won 12 of its last 15 games to firmly establish itself as the third-best team in the East behind Cleveland and Toronto. Meanwhile the Hornets (20-20) are on the cusp of falling below .500 for the first time this season after losing their last four games.

Still, Celtics coach Brad Stevens has seen enough of this Hornets team to know that a win tonight won’t come easily.

“This is a good team,” Stevens said. “We all know Charlotte. They don’t beat themselves. We’ve had to play really well against those guys. This is going to be a tough one, as we all know.”

Figuring out why these two teams are trending in opposite directions isn’t all that complicated.

For the Celtics, their success of late has hinged heavily on their ability to make 3-pointers. Meanwhile, Charlotte’s problems have had a lot to do with a tough slate of road games (all four of their recent losses were on the road) and their inability to make shots which has been an issue in some form for them all season regardless of the opponent.

Look at the last four games, all of which the Hornets lost while the Celtics won three of their four games in that span.

The Hornets rank 21st in scoring with a 101.5 points per game average while the Celtics average 110.8 points which ranks 8th in the league.

Charlotte ranks dead-last in the league the last four games when it comes to shooting the ball (40.5 percent), while Boston comes in 18th at 46.0 percent.

But it’s the 3-point shot and its impact on having an effective field goal percentage, that really separates these two.

Boston has averaged a league-best 15.3 made 3-pointers in the last four games while the Hornets and their 9.8 made 3’s ranks 20th.

And as far as its impact on eFG%, Boston comes in with the eighth-best eFG% in the league (54.8 percent) while the Hornets next-to-last in the NBA with an eFG% of .462.

So what does that mean tonight?

Boston will look to continue being fueled offensively by good ball movement and attacking the rim which in turn should result in lots of good looks from 3-point range which is clearly a strength of this team.

Charlotte will search for other sources of offense besides former UConn star Kemba Walker who is on the short list of candidates for a spot on this year’s Eastern Conference all-star roster.

As was the case in Charlotte’s 102-93 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, an off-night shooting for Walker (17 points, 7-for-23 shooting with three assists) left the Hornets extremely vulnerable to defeat. Similar struggles tonight will provide a similar ending for Charlotte which would allow both teams to continue streaking along … something the Celtics wouldn’t mind at all.