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."

Brady: Preseason reps help you adapt to the speed of the game

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Brady: Preseason reps help you adapt to the speed of the game

FOXBORO -- It's clear that Tom Brady wants to play at some point this preseason. What's a little less clear is what he thinks he stands to gain from preseason game reps in August when he won't be playing meaningful snaps until October. 

After explaining why he missed Thursday's preseason game with the Bears, which he was scheduled to start, Brady was asked on Tuesday if he feels as though he needs game reps before matching up with the Browns in Week 5.

"I don’t think any of them hurt," he said. "I think just do the best you can do. We’re preparing a lot of guys to get ready to play. I fit into that, but so do a lot of other guys. I’m just taking the advice of coach [Bill Belichick], and whatever he wants to do. I’m going to do everything I can to be ready to go when I am called upon. That’s what my responsibility is so that’s what I’m preparing to do."

If the only benefit of having Brady play against the Panthers in the third preseason game amounts to, "Well, couldn't hurt..." then it would come as some surprise if Belichick opted to play Brady anyway. Because it could hurt. It could hurt quite a bit should something flukey happen and Brady ends up worse off than he was after his recent run-in with a pair of scissors. 

Former assistant to the Patriots coaching staff Mike Lombardi, told WEEI recently that Brady needs to work in a preseason game before serving his four-game suspension. Why? 

"The speed of the game changes," Lombardi said. "You have practices against the Bears, but it’s kind of simulated and controlled. I think Tom wants to get the flow of the game . . . Because it’s the third preseason game, Jimmy [Garoppolo] is probably going to play as much into the third quarter as possible, and then you don’t want to put Tom out there with a lot of other guys that perhaps won’t make the team. The second game was kind of a game where he should have played a little bit to get his feet wet. He’s not going to play the fourth game against the New York Giants. That’s going to be Jacoby Brissett’s game. 

"I think [the Bears game] was the time, and that’s why [Brady] was going to play. Obviously something happened with the injury and that’s why he didn’t play . . . I know Tom needs to play in the preseason. He’s not just going to go waltz onto the field and feel the game is going to come right to him."

It feels as though Brady, after 16 years in the NFL, would be able to adapt to the speed of the game relatively quickly with or without preseason reps. But Brady expressed an opinion similar to that of Lombardi when asked about the difference between preseason snaps and practice snaps. He's seen plenty of the latter against the Bears, Saints and his own teammates.

"Well, I think you’re getting hit so just the space awareness, guys around you and ball security and things like that," Brady said. "For whatever, the last 30 practices, quarterbacks aren’t touched. Just standing there in the pocket, holding the ball knowing that they’re coming to get the ball and knock it out of your hands, hitting the ground, those types of things and so forth are important.

"You just have to feel things out, and the game is really the only place to get it because it’s regular speed. You don’t know what’s coming. We prepare, but we don’t obviously get to walk through the looks that we’re going to get. When you get out there you just have to make good decisions and go play quarterback the way that I’ve always tried to do."

Maybe it's to adapt to the pace of the game. Maybe it's to be faced with the real threat of contact. Maybe it's just because he can't stand not to be on the field when the Patriots are playing. Either way, Brady obviously hopes that he'll play on Friday night in Carolina. 

The question now is are the benefits great enough that Belichick will allow him to?

McAdam: Will this be Clay Buchholz's last start?

McAdam: Will this be Clay Buchholz's last start?

With Wright and Rodriguez set to return, Sean McAdam joins SNC to discuss whether Tuesday’s game against the Rays will be the last start for Clay Buchholz.