For Celtics, no Bosh just means more James, Wade


For Celtics, no Bosh just means more James, Wade

MIAMI The absence of six-time all-star Chris Bosh on paper at least, is a good thing for the Boston Celtics.

But C's coach Doc Rivers coaches against players, not paper. He knows all too well that no Chris Bosh means more opportunities for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to dominate play.

"It almost activated them (James and Wade) to be more aggressive, which puts a lot of stress on your defense," Rivers said.

Since Bosh went down with an abdominal strain that has kept him sidelined for Miami's last five games, the James-Wade tandem has been in the kind of flow, the kind of rhythm that has been seldom seen before.

After Bosh went down in Game 1 of their second round series with his current injury, the Heat dropped two straight and fell behind, 2-1, in their best-of-seven series.

With an extra day off between Games 3 and 4, it allowed the Heat to get healthy both mentally and physically.

Part of that improvement involved figuring out how to fill the void left behind by Bosh's absence.

Sure, the Heat have a handful of big men such as Udonis Haslem who have been called upon to contribute more in his absence.

But the true turn-around for them without Bosh, has been James and Wade.

In the five playoff games without Bosh, James and Wade have combined to score 58.6 percent of Miami's offense. And if there's an assist made by the Heat, chances are pretty high - 63.2 percent high - that it was one of them.

Celtics guard Rajon Rondo says Miami has become, "a two-man team."

He added, "Those guys are unselfish, especially LeBron. They have to take a couple more shots per game, but they're still trying to find their teammates. When they don't, they make the plays for themselves."

So if there's any thought that the C's were catching a break with Bosh out of the lineup, Rivers and his players don't see it.

"When you have two players as dynamic as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are, the last thing you want is for those guys to have more opportunities to be great, which is what they have with Bosh out," C's guard Keyon Dooling told "Chris is great player for them, but those guys (James and Wade) are smart, intelligent, very talented basketball players. They know how to play, and play at a high level, regardless of who is on the floor or who is out."

The C's have had their share of injuries all season. And while some might believe those injuries made the Celtics worse off, Rivers has a slightly different take on the matter.

"I don't know what the difference is (without Bosh)," Rivers said. "But just like our guys, (being injured) changes you. It shouldn't make you worse, it should just make you different."

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

Tune into CSN to watch the Celtics host the Raptors at TD Garden. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by McDonald's on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

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Celtics-Raptors preview: DeRozan, Lowry a challenge for Bradley, C's

Celtics-Raptors preview: DeRozan, Lowry a challenge for Bradley, C's

BOSTON – Avery Bradley doesn’t mind being a standout, but this is probably not what he had in mind. 

Injuries have ravaged the Boston Celtics’ starting five to the point where only one player, Bradley, has been with the first unit in all 22 games this season. 

Just like Bradley was looked upon to step his game up in the absence of Isaiah Thomas (right groin) at Orlando on Wednesday, he will once again be challenged to lead Boston (13-9) to victory tonight when the Thomas-less Celtics face the Toronto Raptors. 

Bradley’s emergence as a two-way talent this season has overshadowed at times what has been another season of elite play defensively. 

And he’ll need to be on top of his defensive game tonight against a Raptors All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. 

Both Lowry and DeRozan present a different kind of challenge for Bradley who will spend time defending each of them at various points during the game. 

Lowry has good size, strength and deceptive quickness in addition to an under-rated perimeter game that will keep Bradley on his toes for sure. 

This season he's averaging 20.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and a career-high 7.6 assists while shooting 42.9 percent on 3's which is also a career mark. 

And DeRozan is having the kind of season that might get him a few league MVP votes. 

His 28.0 points per game ranks fifth in the NBA, but making his numbers even more impressive is that unlike most guards DeRozan doesn’t generate much offense from three-pointers.

DeRozan averages 1.8 three-point attempts per game which is the fewest attempts among any player ranked among the league’s top-25 scorers.

The 6-foot-7 All-Star is the master of the mid-range game which accounts for 31.5 percent of the points he scores. And when he’s not shooting the mid-range, he’s working a defender in one-on-one iso-situations. 

That helps explain why 76.4 percent of his two-point made field goals are unassisted. 

But here’s the thing about Bradley. 

As much as we give him props for what he does defensively, it’s his offense that has put him on the map as a potential All-Star this season. 

Bradley is averaging a career-high 17.9 points while shooting 47.2 percent from the field. He’s also averaging a career-high 7.8 rebounds per game in addition to shooting a career-high 40.7 percent on 3's.

But for Bradley, individual accolades are only going to come his way by the Celtics winning games; preferably against above-average teams like the Toronto Raptors.

And that would make both Bradley and the Celtics stand out this season.