Bradley continues to improve

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Bradley continues to improve

BOSTON The Boston Celtics would love to have all their guys healthy and ready to play, especially point guard Rajon Rondo.

But if there has been a positive associated with his absence -- and we're not talking about their 6-2 record without him, either -- it has been the development of Avery Bradley.

The second-year guard continues to get better and better with more playing time, with the latest example of his steadily improving game being on display in Boston's 100-64 win over Toronto.

Bradley, who has started every game that Rondo has missed this season, finished with a season-high tying 11 points on 5-for-6 shooting.

The fact that he's becoming a more active participant in the C's offense is encouraging.

Celtics head coach Doc Rivers recognized that in some ways, teams were beginning to play off him akin to the way they do Rondo who has had his share of ups and downs shooting the ball, something Bradley can relate to.

Becoming a better cutter without the ball, Bradley said, has been a steady message Rivers has been delivering to the former first-round pick.

"That's one thing I focused on coming into the game, on the offensive end," Bradley said. "Cuts not only get me open, it gets my teammates open. I'm just getting better at cutting every single game."

Of Bradley's five made field goals, four were lay-ups.

And the fifth?

An eight-foot jumper.

While Bradley says he wants to be as good a cutter at the basket as Rondo, Rivers has another point guard in mind he would like Bradley to emulate when it comes to making cuts.

"I told Avery, 'he has to be (Denver Nuggets guard) Andre Miller,' who I think is the best cutter without the ball," Rivers said. "No one guards him, and he keeps scoring 15, 16 points a game. Teams keep doing what they're doing, and he back-cuts."

And now, so does Bradley.

"I just have to keep on improving, and learning every game," Bradley said.

Once Rondo is healthy enough to return, Rivers has reiterated that Rondo will be back to starting and that Bradley will return to coming off the bench where he will compete for playing time with rookie E'Twaun Moore.

And while no one questions the C's as being a better team with Rondo, at least now Rivers knows he can look elsewhere at that position, if needed.

"Well, it is a benefit," Rivers said. "I mean, the amount of games and listen, Rondo's healing and getting rest. The way he plays, it's only a benefit for us, You know, E'Twaun and Avery are gaining confidence, and that's good for them as well. So in every way it's a benefit."

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

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Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious.