Celtics Question of the Day: Did C's improve more in frontcourt or backcourt?


Celtics Question of the Day: Did C's improve more in frontcourt or backcourt?

The Boston Celtics added lots of talent across the board with between their guards and some much-needed size.

But where did the C's improve the most, on the perimeter or in the frontcourt?

While there's clearly more sizzle with the talent Boston added in the backcourt, there's no question the substance of the Celtics' frontcourt has been significantly upgraded.

Consider this: The Celtics went into the playoffs last season with rookie Greg Stiemsma along with Ryan Hollins and Sean Williams as their backup centers.

Fast forward to this season's squad. Even if you take away Boston's top two big men off the bench -- Chris Wilcox and, most likely, Jarred Sullinger -- that still leaves the C's with Darko Milicic, Jason Collins and rookie first-round pick Fab Melo.

I know. It doesn't exactly wow me, either. But considering what the Celtics had to work with during the playoffs last season, there's little doubt that this year's trio of backup big men behind the backups is better.

For all of Milicic's shortcomings as a player, he has proven to be a solid shot-blocker. He averaged two blocked shots per game during the 2010-2011 season, which ranked fifth in the NBA.

Jason Collins has the size and strength to be an asset against some of the league's more powerful centers like Dwight Howard of the Los Angeles Lakers and Andrew Bynum of the Philadelphia 76ers.

While Melo is very much a work in progress, his greatest quality while in college at Syracuse University was his defense and shot-blocking.

The key additions Boston made in the backcourt were Jason Terry and Courtney Lee.

Lee will start with Avery Bradley (shoulder), who's not expected back at the start of the season, and Terry will reprise his reserve role in Dallas as a high-impact sixth man off the C's bench.

Having both around will soften the blow of not having Bradley at the start of the season. In addition, they will also help fill the gaping hole left behind when Ray Allen decided to sign with the Miami Heat this summer.

As important as guard play will be to Boston's success, having enough frontcourt depth will be vital to Boston having the kind of postseason they envision.

In the C's seven-game series loss to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals, Boston was plus-1 on the boards in their three wins. And in their four losses, the Celtics were out-rebounded by 30.

A big part of those struggles on the boards had to do with the C's having to go deeper into its frontcourt pool than intended.

But this season, the Celtics have addressed that clear area of weakness. Boston not only has enough bigs to compete. The Celtics now have enough bigs -- behind their primary bigs -- to make a legitimate charge at the only thing this franchise cares about: Banner 18.

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.”