Bradley's defense valuable to C's

630410.jpg

Bradley's defense valuable to C's

ORLANDO, Fla. As Boston Celtics point man Rajon Rondo (wrist) inches closer to returning to action, Avery Bradley's role will decrease obviously.

"Avery won't start. I hope you guys know that," quipped Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

Maybe not, but he's starting to turn heads to the point where teams have to give some thought to game-planning against his on-the-ball pressure.

For all that went the Celtics' way in their 87-56 win over Orlando on Monday, it was Bradley's ability to stifle the flow of Orlando's offense that played a major role in the blowout.

"Avery Bradley set a great tone," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said after the loss. "We had trouble even getting the ball into the scoring area."

And to think, it was just a couple weeks ago that Bradley was headed toward end-of-the-bench status with rookie E'Twaun Moore looking as though he would replace Bradley in the rotation.

After spending much of his rookie season either injured or simply not playing, questions about whether Bradley could legitimately help this team were starting to take shape.

Now, it's not a question as to whether the second-year guard can help the Celtics win games. It's now about how much can he provide moving forward.

Of course Bradley's game has its shortcomings.

He still struggles at running a team effectively, and his perimeter shooting is shaky, at best. These were all issues that Rivers and his staff went back and fourth discussing during the offseason.

"We talked about it as a staff at the beginning of the year," Rivers said. "That we may have to go to a different offense for the second unit which I don't do very often. Avery's not Rondo; he's not going to be Rondo as far as running a team. What he does defensively is so good for us, it's good to have him out on the floor. So if we have to have him on the floor as a point, we have to run a different set so that that group can function offensively."

That's why you'll most likely see him on the floor with Paul Pierce andor Kevin Garnett, with one of them being the one to initiate the offense after Bradley gets the ball into the frontcourt.

But Bradley's shortcomings are all things that can only get better with time and opportunity - both of which he has made the most of with Rondo being out.

"It's hard to grow as a player if you don't get the minutes," Pierce said. "Even though Rajon is hurt, he (Bradley) is able to get these minutes which is valuable experience, which also leads to confidence."

And as confident as Bradley has been in his ability to play, now you're starting to see his teammates have confidence in him as well.

Veteran guard Keyon Dooling has seen his share of talented players during his 11-plus NBA seasons. What Bradley does defensively, sticks out in a really, really good way for Boston.

"Avery is the best on-the-ball defender in the NBA," Dooling said. "At the point guard position, there's nobody who does it better on the ball. And I want the whole league to recognize that. He has a unique skill, and he does it great."

And while it's still early, Bradley's defense has actually put pressure on his teammates to step their defensive game up.

During Monday's win, Pierce pulled Bradley aside for a brief conversation.

"Paul came up and told me when you play defense like that it makes us play defense even harder," Bradley recalled. "Thats all I try to do, I try to help in anyway I can.

With Rondo back as early as Thursday, Bradley will come off the bench and most likely play some with Dooling, who is also a good on-the-ball defender.

"I'm looking forward to contributing to the team any way possible," said Dooling, who has been out with a knee injury. "Obviously, when you see Avery in the backcourt picking up 94 feet, if you're off the ball you don't want your guy to have easy catches or things like that. That would negate all his efforts. I want him to be able to trust me, so I have to make sure I do my job as well defensively."

Bruins lose third straight with 4-1 loss to Leafs

bruins-patrice-bergeron.jpg

Bruins lose third straight with 4-1 loss to Leafs

BOSTON -- The Bruins’ season has gone in extreme swings both up and down thus far through the first couple of months, and that was the case as they lost their third game in a row to the Maple Leafs on Saturday night.

The Bruins couldn’t only scratch for one goal despite outshooting the Maple Leafs by a 32-20 margin, and fell by a disappointing 4-1 score to the young and talented Toronto club at TD Garden.

The Bruins never enjoyed a lead in the game against the Leafs, and were flirting with danger after failing to score in the first period despite out-shooting Toronto by an 11-2 margin in the game’s opening 20 minutes. Instead it was a David Pastrnak neutral zone turnover in the second period that was picked off by William Nylander, and ended with Auston Matthews firing a rocket over Tuukka Rask for his 12th goal of the season.

Toronto extended the lead with five minutes to go in the period when Zach Hyman tipped a wobbly Jake Gardiner point shot past Rask, and made it three games in a row that the Bruins have dug themselves a considerable hole. Brad Marchand got one goal back at the end of the second period on a nice hustle play as he sealed off Frederik Anderson’s clearing attempt and then stuffed the puck past the Leafs goalie on a second chance bid.

That’s the way the score remained until the third period when the Bruins couldn’t convert on a couple of offensive chances -- included a bang-bang shorthanded bid for Austin Czarnik in front of the net -- and then James van Riemsdyk scored in front as a Toronto power play expired. That was the backbreaker for a Black and Gold bunch that continues to scrap for goals, and has now scored two goals or less in 20 of their 20 games this season.

Connor Brown added an empty netter in the final two minutes of the game to truly put it out of reach for the Bruins. 

Celtics' team plane receives bomb threat

newsletter-danny-ainge-061316.jpg

Celtics' team plane receives bomb threat

BOSTON -- There was a bomb threat to the Boston Celtics’ team plane to Oklahoma City on Saturday afternoon, but no one was injured.

The incident will be investigated by NBA security which will work in conjunction with the FBI on this matter which was one of several hoaxes called into airports across the country on Saturday.

News of the bomb threat was first known when Celtics forward Jae Crowder posted an Instagram photo showing players departing the plane with the caption, “BOMB THREAT ON US”.

Celtics officials declined to comment on the matter and instead referred all bomb threat-related questions to the league office.

Messages to the league office were not immediately returned.