Celtics-Kings review: Garnett steps up

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Celtics-Kings review: Garnett steps up

BOSTON Courtney Lee was joking around before the game that fans just might see Kevin Garnett running the point.
He was kidding of course, but there's no mistaking that Garnett was a central figure in initiating the C's offense that was humming like we have rarely seen this season against Sacramento.
And the result was an impressive 99-81 win over the Kings for the C's second straight victory -- both without Rajon Rondo, who is out for the rest of the season with a torn right ACL injury.
Garnett was able to deliver the C's a little bit of everything.
He had 13 points on 6-for-10 shooting.
He grabbed nine rebounds.
He had five assists, and that doesn't include the "hockey" assists on passes he made that set up passes for lay-ups or wide-open jumpers.
"Everybody has to do their job, and some have to do it better," said Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. "Kevin I thought tonight was terrific."
Boston went to Garnett early, something that Paul Pierce said will likely happen more often with Rondo out.
"You saw that from the start, we went to him, we went to him again ... we steadily went to him and he makes things easier."
Garnett understands that while several Celtics have to step their game up, often he will be looked upon to set things into motion.
"Doc wants to kind of cement me into the first five minutes of the game. That's cool," Garnett said. "I like to do things into the flow. Obviously plays were called, I was aggressive, I made shots. More importantly, I want to be in situations where I can not only get shots but be aggressive, get other shots, make the game easier for everybody on the floor. As long as I am in those situations, I think I can obviously help my team."
Garnett's play was indeed one of the keys to Boston coming away with the win.
Here are some of other keys outlined prior to tip-off, and how those keys actually played out as the Celtics (22-23) win their second straight game.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Limiting the backcourt scoring of the Kings will be a factor. Despite losing four of their last five games, Sacramento's perimeter players have been putting up big numbers. In the last five games, they have averaged 46.2 points per game which ranks eighth in the NBA during that span according to hoopsstats.com.
WHAT WE SAW: Boston's two-headed defensive monster in the backcourt, Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee, limited Sacramento's tandem of Tyreke Evans and Isaiah Thomas to 27 points on 9-for-29 shooting.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Jared Sullinger vs DeMarcus Cousins: Two of the league's up-and-coming young bigs, both have the ability to impact the game in multiple ways. Sullinger did a solid job as a role player in Boston's double overtime win against Miami. Cousins' first career triple-double came against the C's earlier this season.
WHAT WE SAW: This matchup never materialized as Sullinger left the game in the first quarter with back spasms and was unable to return. Cousins didn't fare much better in his time on the floor, tallying 13 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists - a far cry from the triple-double he put on Boston when they met earlier this season.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Courtney Lee gets the start in the backcourt, and will look to continue his solid play with Rajon Rondo (torn right ACL) out for the season. In six games without Rondo this season, Lee averages 10.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists - all better than his season numbers.
WHAT WE SAW: Lee showed a lot more athleticism than we have seen thus far this season. His final line for the night - 9 points, 3-for-6 shooting and three assists - doesn't do justice to the kind of game he had in helping the Celtics come away with the win.

STAT TO TRACK: Even without Rondo, the Celtics need to make getting out in transition a priority. Sacramento has struggled in several phases of the game all season, including their transition defense which is giving up 15.6 points per game which ranks 29th (out of 30 teams) in the NBA this season. That number has been slightly higher (16.4) in their last five games.
WHAT WE SAW: Four of Boston's first six points of the game came on fast-breaks, as they finished with 14 fast-break points for the game. The C's were doing such a solid job executing in half-court sets, their ability to score a ton of points in transition was not needed.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Trail Blazers

WATCH: Celtics vs. Trail Blazers

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Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

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.