BOSTON -- After losing the first three games of the regular season, the Boston Celtics werent reaching for the panic button.
With 63 games to go before the playoffs, the Cs knew they'd find their winning ways. They found it in game number four with a 96-85 victory over the visiting Detroit Pistons on Friday night.
This team is very tough mentally, said Jermaine ONeal, who scored a team-high 19 points. I know when you lose three in a row, people question the team and what were doing and whos doing what. But we know that this process is a process, and at the end of the day we will be better and we will be considered one of the best teams in the league. Listen, we know how to win ball games.
The Celtics improved to 1-3 on the season and 1-0 at home in their first game at TD Garden. In addition to homecourt advantage, the season debut of Paul Pierce helped fill a void on offense. Pierce scored 12 points after missing the first three games with a bruised heel.
While the Celtics acknowledge they could have played better in their first three games (losses to the New York Knicks, Miami Heat, and New Orleans Hornets), theyre looking forward to improving their play in the remained of the season.
I dont think we played particularly well in those three games, but thats what we know, said Ray Allen. We know how to play basketball and we know that weve got to pick up our play. It would be one thing if you look back and you say these guys really, really beat us. We cant say that about any team so far. We didnt play good basketball and were putting it together and we like who we have on our team and we knew we had to work harder. So thats always encouraging when you know theres more that youve got to give and when you give more, youre going to win.
WALTHAM, Mass. – The right Achilles’ strain that has kept Avery Bradley out of five of the Celtics’ past six games, will continue to keep the 6-foot-2 guard sidelined.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Bradley will not play Saturday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Stevens added that no additional tests have been taken and the Achilles’ itself is structurally fine.
“He’s got a lot of soreness around it, and that’s one of those things you have to be ultra-careful with,” said Stevens, who later added that Bradley would not practice with the team today. “When he [Bradley] came back, he said he felt a lot better, and then he played and the next day he practiced. We didn’t do anything live but he did a lot of cutting and did not feel near as good. That’s why he didn’t play Wednesday.”
The absence of Bradley was clearly felt in a 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday, a game in which Knicks guard Derrick Rose – the man Bradley would have likely spent defending most of the game – scored 30 points.
This season, all-NBA first team defender is the Celtics’ No. 2 scorer at 17 points per game along with averaging a team-best 6.9 rebounds.
In addition, Bradley is shooting a career-best 40.9 percent from 3-point range, as well as dishing out 2.4 assists per game, which also represents a career-high for the 26-year-old.
WALTHAM, Mass. – To dunk or not to dunk with the best in the NBA?
That is the question Celtics rookie forward Jaylen Brown is grappling with these days.
The 6-foot-7 Brown confirmed that he has been invited to be part of the league’s Slam Dunk competition at All-Star weekend, but hasn’t made up his mind as to whether he will participate.
Brown said he’ll likely make a decision about it sometime this weekend.
While he certainly understands that is indeed an honor for any player to be asked to participate in All-Star weekend, Brown said his trepidation about being part of the slam dunk competition has a lot to do with its potential impact on his body and how that may affect his ability to recharge over the weekend and get ready to finish out his rookie season strong.
If he decided to enter the contest, he would be facing some really stiff competition from last year’s winner Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando’s Aaron Gordon, whose battle last season put their slam dunk competition among the best ever.
Facing tough competition is not something that concerns Brown.
“I’m not worried about anybody or anything,” Brown said. “I think I have a lot to offer. Just like your rookie year, your body and everything … it’s a lot. All those dunks, they look cool but it takes a toll on your body for sure. I want to put myself in the best position to help the team.”
While his focus has been on the Celtics, Brown acknowledged he has been getting a few tips on the competition from teammate Gerald Green, who is also a former Slam Dunk champion.
“[Gerald] Green has been coaching me up, giving me a lot of good ideas I wouldn’t have thought on my own,” Brown said. “If I do decide to do it, it’ll be some stuff [nobody] has seen before.”