Doc on KG's return

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Doc on KG's return

BOSTON While no timetable has been set, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers anticipates the C's will have an answer soon as to what Kevin Garnett plans to do next season.

The free agent big man has had talks with Rivers as well as Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, since the C's season ended at the hand of the NBA champion Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.

"I hope he comes back, and I think he will," said Rivers, a featured speaker at Fenway Park on Tuesday during the first annual Sports Leadership Breakfast to Benefit thePositive Coaching Alliance.

Rivers added, "I have no basis for that. I just believe that he will."

With the No. 21 and No. 22 picks in the first round, Garnett's potential return will have no bearing on their draft plans.

"It's not like we have the No. 1 pick," Rivers said. "When you're in the 20s, you just wait and see what comes to you. I think this is a great draft. Where we're picking, we'll be able to get two very good players."

While Garnett has been mum for weeks - he did not speak to the media after the C's Game 7 loss at Miami and was fined 25,000 by the NBA - sources throughout the league are banking on him coming back for a 17th tour of duty in the NBA.

Earlier this season, Garnett talked about being an NBA lifer - something he never envisioned for himself.

"Duration is everything, man. To be able still, to be playing on this level, it says a lot," Garnett said. "It's not like I'm playing on some grand level, but I am playing on a decent level to where it's helping the team and I'm still trying to create different edges and different matchups and different mismatches night-in, night-out. And I still have a brain; I still know how to think this game. There's different formats of the game for me at this point. and I'm still enjoying the game. As long as those components are still a part, then I'm good."

And with Garnett, the C's are good - very good.

He knows this.

So do the Celtics.

But they also understand that this season probably took more out of Garnett physically than any of his previous 15.

When you combine the lockout-shortened season with him playing more at the center position - and with that, dealing with more physical players - it was clear near the end of the Miami series that the physical toll of a long season was starting to catch up with him.

That's why the C's are mindful not to push him too hard, too quickly for a response.

"He'll let us know soon enough," Rivers said. "Him and Danny (Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations) and that group are talking. That's all you can ask for."

If Garnett is back, Rivers said he will once again play primarily at the center position unless the Celtics draft, trade for or sign a talented center whose presence would allow Garnett to go play his more natural power forward position.

And while the C's want to give Garnett all the time he needs, both sides understand that a decision will have to be made sooner rather than later on his future.

"It's amazing that he has to make a decision already," Rivers said. "But that's the rules. It'd be nice if he could go home and detox from the season. Unfortunately the way we do this, it's not allowed. You have to make a decision quickly. I think that's very difficult; I really do."

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Stars, studs and duds: Celtics put on defensive clinic in second half

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics put on defensive clinic in second half

This season the Boston Celtics have shown flashes for a few minutes here and there that they were an elite team defensively. 
 
But what they did in the second half to the Orlando?
 
Boston (13-9) put on a defensive clinic that overwhelmed the Magic on every level imaginable as the Celtics cruised to a 117-87 thumping of Orlando.
 
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has been even-keeled when it comes to discussing his team’s play, win or lose. 
 
But even he couldn’t contain how pleased he was to see the way his players defended in the third and fourth quarters. 
 
“On defense, the second half was as good as we’ve guarded all year,” Stevens told reporters afterwards. “Really focused, really urgent. I felt good about that.”
 
Setting the tone for the Celtics was Avery Bradley who certainly was impressive with his scoring. 
 
But as much as he knew the team would need a boost offensively with Isaiah Thomas (right groin) out, that wasn’t his approach to the game. 
 
“I had a defensive mindset coming into tonight’s game,” Bradley told CSN’s Abby Chin following the win. “Just trying to get my teammates to playing the right way so we could come out and get the ‘W’ tonight. I’m happy with how all the guys played. We all played hard, and we played as a team.”
 
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Wednesday night’s game.
 

STARS
 
Avery Bradley

Bradley picked up the scoring with Isaiah Thomas (right groin) out for Wednesday, leading the team with a game-high 23 points to go with four rebounds and three assists.
 
 
STUDS

Jaylen Brown

Arguably the biggest spark off the bench for Boston, Brown had one of his best games as a Celtic. He finished with 13 points which included a dunk over Nikola Vucevic that quieted the Amway Center crowd and just as important, provided a nice energy boost for Boston.
 
D.J. Augustin

He had the hot hand at the end of the second quarter, but was a non-factor in the second half as Augustin finished with 15 points – all of which came in the first half. 
 
Terry Rozier

This was a great confidence-booster for Rozier as well as his teammates to see him have a big game and make the most of his increased opportunity to play. He finished with a career-high 16 points off the Celtics bench on 6-for-13 shooting with five rebounds.
 
Nikola Vucevic

It doesn’t matter if he starts or comes off the bench. Vucevic is always a double-double threat on the floor. He finished with 12 points off the bench along with 10 rebounds for his 13th double-double this season. 
 

DUDS
 
Orlando second half defense

The Celtics got pretty much whatever they wanted, when they wanted it in the second half against the Magic defense which pulled a major disappearing act. Boston shot 61 percent from the field in the second half, and 45.4 percent from 3-point range. 
 

Bradley steps up to lead Celtics to 117-87 blowout win over Magic

Bradley steps up to lead Celtics to 117-87 blowout win over Magic

It was one of Tacoma, Washington’s finest carrying the scoring load most of Wednesday night for the Boston Celtics. 
 
But it wasn’t the Celtics’ leading scorer, Isaiah Thomas. 
 
It was his backcourt mate and fellow Tacoma, Wash. native Avery Bradley picking up the slack in Thomas’ absence as Boston pulled away in the second half for a 117-87 blowout win over the Orlando Magic. 
 
Wednesday’s victory was Boston’s first in Orlando since Nov. 8, 2013. 
 
Bradley led seven double-figure scorers for Boston (13-9), with a team-high 23 points.
 
Thomas missed his first game of the season with a right groin injury that will sideline him for a yet-to-be-determined period of time. 
 
The 5-foot-9 guard ranks among the NBA’s leaders in scoring (26.0) in addition to leading the Celtics in assists (6.2) per game. 
 
But Bradley was up to the challenge of filling the void left by Thomas, which isn’t all that surprising when you consider the game was away from the TD Garden. 
 
Bradley has been good this year, but has really stood out in road games where he has averaged 19.0 points on 51.4 percent shooting from the field compared to 15.8 points on 41.3 percent shooting at the TD Garden. 
 
The first half was a tightly contested game with neither team leading by more than eight points. 
 
After Orlando scored the first basket of the third quarter, the Celtics went on a furious 18-2 run to lead 67-54 which had five different scorers for Boston that spoke volumes about the balanced offensive attack the Celtics came with to make up for Thomas’ absence. 
 
Boston’s defense picked up its intensity in the second half, but just as important was the renewed emphasis on ball movement that was simple, crisp and highly effective. 
 
And it came against an Orlando team that came in having won four of its last five games – all on the road – which included beating the always-challenging San Antonio Spurs on their home floor. 
 
But as important as it was for Bradley to help fill the enormous scoring void that exists without Thomas, Boston also needed a strong game from their bench. 
 
That’s exactly what they got, and it wasn’t just one or two guys, either. 
 
Jaylen Brown had arguably the best game of his still-young NBA career coming off the Celtics bench, finishing with 13 points which included a powerful, rim-rattling dunk over Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic
 
Boston also got great play out of Terry Rozier (career-high 16 points, five rebounds) who saw a few more minutes than usual because of Thomas’ injury. 
 
Not only was the victory important to pad the win total, but it also provides a nice boost of confidence for the Celtics as they hit what will be arguably the most difficult stretch of the season in terms of quality opponents. 
 
The Celtics have 12 games remaining this month, with the teams having a combined record of 152-105, or a winning percentage of .591.