Daniels finding his groove just in time for postseason


Daniels finding his groove just in time for postseason

BOSTON Boston Celtics swingman Marquis Daniels has re-discovered his all-around game and his timing could not be better.

With the NBA players to begin this weekend, the Celtics backup is playing some of his best basketball at a time when he may be called upon in the games that matter most.

"We need it," C's coach Doc Rivers said of Daniels' strong play of late.

His contributions were among the keys to Boston's 78-66 win over the Miami Heat.

Daniels had the kind of all-around performance that the C's haven't seen nearly as much of as they would have liked this season.

He scored.

He rebounded.

He found teammates.

He picked pockets.

By the end of the night, Daniels had the kind of stat line that speaks clearly as to how, on any given night, he can help the C's in so many different areas.

He led all reserves with 13 points, in addition to tallying five rebounds, four assists, two steals and a blocked shot.

When Daniels was playing regular minutes, he was often one of the last players to leave the practice floor or the morning shoot-around.

After his role diminished to the point where he wasn't playing at all, Daniels continued to work on his game, knowing that an opportunity to play might come about at any moment.

"Just trying to make sure I'm ready whenever my number is called," said Daniels, who had a strong game off the bench in the C's loss at Atlanta on Friday. "Staying after late, getting a workout in, coming in early, getting a workout in. Just taking advantage of the time that I get."

And while Daniels likely won't be in the Celtics regular playing rotation when the playoffs start, that doesn't mean the C's expect him to be a non-factor.

"You know it every year: someone who plays a little bit comes in in the playoffs and has a big game for you," Rivers said.

And Daniels certainly has to be included among the possibilities coming off the Celtics bench.

"Everybody in this room is talented," Daniels said recently. "One thing we can do, is go out and use our talent and play hard. All we have to do is play hard, and we'll be in every game."

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

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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.