Celtics' plan to go to Garnett pays off

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Celtics' plan to go to Garnett pays off

BOSTON The Boston Celtics were intent on getting the ball into the hands of Kevin Garnett a lot.

Why?

Because from what they had seen through the first two games, there wasn't a whole lot Miami could do with Garnett once he had the ball in the post.

Garnett had his way around the basket for most of the night as the Celtics climbed back into this Eastern Conference finals series with a 101-91 victory.

They now trail the Heat 2-1 in the best-of-seven series with Game 4 in Boston on Sunday and Game 5 at Miami on Tuesday.

Garnett had another strong game with 24 points and 11 rebounds.

More impressive than the scoring, was where the majority of his points came from.

Of Garnett's 10 made baskets, seven came within a couple feet of the rim, as clear an indicator as to where the Celtics wanted to go - down low to Garnett, a lot.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers had stressed to his players to get the ball to Garnett as much as possible in the post.

"Nobody can jump as high as Kevin," said C's point guard Rajon Rondo, with a number of his game-high 10 assists being passes to Garnett.

And it didn't seem to matter who the Heat put on Garnett.

Ronny Turiaf. Joel Anthony. Udonis Haslem. Even LeBron James.

It was pointless.

None of them could stop Garnett from controlling the action around the basket which factored heavily into Boston outscoring the Heat, 58-46, on points in the paint.

"He played great," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "They established him deep in the paint."

There was at least one Heat player who didn't seem all that impressed with Garnett's scoring.

"I don't really think he killed us one-on-one," said Haslem. "I think it was free throws and a couple of late shots down the stretch. I don't really think we had bad defense on KG. As a team, we just didn't defend well and they knocked down shots; and we gave them shots we wouldn't normally give them."

Garnett's strong game was due in part to the predicament that the C's came into the game facing.

After having lost the first two games in Miami, Garnett understands just how important Game 3 was for the C's to have any shot at rallying back to win this series.

"Desperation game, to be honest," Garnett said. "And we played like it, too. You don't want to be down 3-0 to a team like this. Very, very good team, very talented team, well coached team. I feel like we played desperation basketball."

As dominant as Garnett was, he did take his share of bumps and bruises.

At one point in the game, Garnett took a hard foul from Udonis Haslem. Moments later while still on the floor, Garnett began to do push-ups on his knuckles.

"As an athlete, you have to get yourself going, especially when you get knocked down, you don't want your opponent to see you vulnerable," said C's guard Keyon Dooling. "So that was his opportunity to show them that they can keep hitting him. He loves it. he plays a lot of mental games with himself, and with others."

There were other instances where Garnett got tangled up with Heat players who suspected Garnett was trying to get under their skin whether it be trash talking or physical play.

"That's his game," said Heat guard Mario Chalmers. "We (have) to stick to our plan, not worry about him or let him get in our heads; which we didn't."

Maybe so, but he certainly got into the heads - and hearts - of Celtics Nation who seem to feed off his energy and intensity.

But in Game Three, the roles in many ways were reversed as the boisterous crowd seemed to provide even more energy - if that's even possible - to Garnett.

"We're playing at home, we have to give it our all out and it will be all-out," Garnett said. "The jungle was rocking' tonight. I want to thank all the fans who came out. (Expletive) jungle was rockin' tonight! I loved it. (Expletive) loved it."

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.