Celtics lose battle of the boards

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Celtics lose battle of the boards

BOSTON When the Boston Celtics return to the court next week, they will look to rebound - literally - from a disappointing 87-74 loss to the Indiana Pacers.

It was a game in which the C's struggled mightily in every imaginable phase of the game, which included them tying a franchise-low with 25 points in the first half.

But it was their inability to keep the Pacers (5-2) off the offensive boards that, maybe more than anything else, led to their four-game winning streak coming to an end.

Indiana enjoyed a 47-36 rebounding advantage which factored heavily into their 19-5 advantage in second-chance points.

"There were a lot of shots being missed by both teams," said Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. "That means there's going to be a lot of offensive rebound opportunities. The difference was they had seven more (offensive rebounds) than us when you get straight down to it."

Kevin Garnett played nearly 34 minutes, and finished with six rebounds - zero on the offensive boards.

"It's always on the bigs to rebound, obviously," Garnett said. "It starts with the bigs, myself included. We have to do a better job, I know I have to."

And while the Boston big men certainly were a factor in the team's rebounding woes, the C's guards played a prominent role as well.

Indiana's dribble penetration forced Boston's big men to help out defensively. Once the Pacers put up shots, the Celtics guard didn't do a good job of putting a body on Indiana's big men, which allowed them to get several second and third-shot opportunities.

Rajon Rondo had five rebounds - that was more than any other Celtics guard - but he too acknowledged that the C's guards had to do a better job of helping out on the boards.

"It's not on the bigs; it's all five of us out there," Rondo said. "We didn't do a good job boxing out. Guards getting beat off the dribble; our bigs were stepping up. And when they shot the ball, our bigs were off their bodies. It's no excuses. We just played really bad tonight; it showed."

Bradley locked in during return to Celtics lineup vs. Hornets

Bradley locked in during return to Celtics lineup vs. Hornets

BOSTON – When you look at Avery Bradley’s growth this season, seeing the tremendous strides he has made offensively is clear.

But at the heart of Bradley’s game remains a desire to dominate a matchup as a defender, something that was alive and well on Monday as he made his return to the floor after missing the four previous games with an Achilles strain.

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Bradley’s defense would prove instrumental in Boston’s 108-98 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday.

He was 2-for-9 from the field and played nearly 33 minutes against Hornets which is just a couple minutes under his season average of court time.

Usually he’s responsible for providing a boost at both ends of the floor.

But considering his long lay-off, it was clear early on that he was locked in defensively more so than looking to get back on track shooting the ball.

“You take any type of games off in this league, your rhythm and all that you gotta get it back,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder.

Even though his shots weren’t falling, Bradley was on top of his game defensively while guarding 6-foot-8 Nicolas Batum who is six inches taller but never was a factor on Monday.

Batum finished with eight points on 2-for-11 shooting from the field.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens liked what he got out of Bradley in his return to action.

“I thought he (Bradley) was great,” Stevens told CSNNE.com. “He did everything we needed him to do. We knew there would be a little bit of rust (shooting the ball), but that’s part of you playing your way back into it.”

As far as Bradley’s stifling defense on Batum, Stevens said, “You have to do that against Batum. I thought Avery did a really good job of that. It’s a hard matchup no matter what way you go. Batum, giving up inches to him. He (Bradley) was there on the catch all night.”

And as Bradley gradually gets back into a flow, he’ll regain the form offensively that made him one of the NBA’s better two-way players this season.