Celtics look to improve individual defense for Game 3

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Celtics look to improve individual defense for Game 3

In preparation for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Boston Celtics will watch game film for each shot they missed. They will also look over every shot they gave up to the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Celtics system is rooted in defense. Even when struggling with their own offense, they have been able to clamp down on D and keep their opponents from scoring.

After their 82-81 loss to the 76ers in Game 2, they are looking to get back to that fundamental approach as they head to Philadelphia for Games 3 and 4.

Its just about individual defense at that point, said Paul Pierce. Thats it. I dont think it was really the plays. Its about us manning up at the end and taking the challenge.

Pierce further explained, Individual defense. It wasnt anything special they were running. They were setting picks, getting to the point where they get their guys in isolation, so its up to us to be able to play great individual defense toward the end.

The Celtics fought back from a 57-49 third quarter deficit to tie the game, 65-65, with 4:33 left. But even though they outscored the 76ers, 32-25, in the fourth quarter, the visiting team scored six straight points in the final minute to go up 80-75 with 8.5 seconds remaining, enough to hold on for the 82-81 win.

I thought the third quarter really hurt us when we couldnt score but our defense wasnt there, said Pierce. They were taking a nine-, ten-point lead and its hard when youre trying to fight back. We got the lead and we just didnt get the stop we needed down the stretch.

Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett echoed Pierces sentiments of buckling down on D. While the Celtics will look to execute their own offense late in the game, it will be a priority to stop the 76ers from doing the same.

We have to play better individual one-on-one defense, Rondo said. I have to guard the ball better, keep the ball out of the paint.

Added Garnett, Defensively, we have to be a lot more sound on the ball. A lot of missed assignments tonight. Theyre a good team, too. They made some adjustments tonight, shot the ball better, attacked the basket.

Garnett said the Celtics are better than how they performed in Game 2. Looking ahead to Wednesdays Game 3 in Philadelphia, they are determined to prove it.

Well watch film Tuesday and get better, he said.

Bradley (Achilles) 'felt good' during return to Celtics lineup

Bradley (Achilles) 'felt good' during return to Celtics lineup

WALTHAM, Mass. – As the final horn blew in Boston’s 108-98 win over Charlotte on Monday night, the game was a win-win kind of night for Avery Bradley.

The Celtics (26-15) continue rolling over opponents at the TD Garden, and he played a relatively pain-free 33 minutes in the win.

It was Bradley’s first game back after missing the previous four with a strained right Achilles injury.

And the fact that he was back on the practice floor on Tuesday (be it a light practice, mind you), bodes well for his injury being a thing of the past now.

“I felt good. It wasn’t sore at all in the game,” Bradley said. “I felt I was moving good. After the game I was a little sore and this morning, but otherwise I felt good.”

Despite Boston being 4-1 this season when Bradley doesn’t play, he has immense value to this Celtics team at both ends of the floor.

Offensively he has been Boston’s second-leading scorer most of this season and currently averages a career-high 17.7 points per game along with 6.9 rebounds which is also a career high.

And defensively, Bradley is coming off a season in which he was named to the NBA’s all-Defensive First Team for the first time.

Any questions or concerns about the Achilles affecting his play defensively were put to rest Monday night when he put the defensive clamps on Nicolas Batum who missed nine of his 11 shots from the field while primarily being guarded by Bradley.

Now his offense, that’s another story.

Bradley failed to reach double digits scoring for the first time this season as he missed seven of his nine shots on Monday to finish with just five points.

But part of that had to do with Bradley passing up shots he normally takes, as well as him missing some he normally knocks down.

Considering his lay-off and the rhythm his teammates have been in shooting the ball in his absence, Bradley wisely decided to get his defensive bearings on track and gradually bring his offensive game around. 

“I have to get my (shooting) rhythm back,” said Bradley who is making a career-best 40.9 percent of his 3-pointers this season. “I’m fine. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s game.”