Hollins making the most of playing time


Hollins making the most of playing time

WALTHAM With the clock winding down to end the third quarter of Boston's Game 6 matchup against Atlanta, Rajon Rondo pulled up for a jumper that took one of those funny bounces off the rim. An alert Ryan Hollins chased the loose ball down. Moments later, Rondo hit a jumper to put the Celtics up by four points at the end of three quarters.

With the game's balance very much up in the air in the closing moments, Hollins once again came up with an offensive rebound that ultimately led to Kevin Garnett's go-ahead basket with 30 seconds to play in Boston's 83-80 Game 6 win over Atlanta that propelled the C's to the second round of the playoffs.

Hollins is the latest Celtic backup to make the most of his opportunity to play.

He's sure to get even more chances in the second round against a Philadelphia team that's loaded with athletic players on the perimeter and in the frontcourt.

In addition to his rebounding which has never been a strength of his, Hollins is also finding other ways to impact the game.

When you watch Hollins play, it's clear that his hustle and energy bothers some players and at times, makes them respond in a way that only benefits the C's.

"He's an irritant," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "He (bleep) guys off in practice. He does. he just irritates people, and I thought especially against Atlanta, they had guys who'd get upset. I thought Ryan's actions would bother some of the guys. The funny thing is, he's the nicest guy. He doesn't mean to. It's just what he does."

Boston will look for more of the same in their second round series against Philadelphia which begins in Boston on Saturday.
While the Celtics' Big Four and key rotation guys such as Brandon Bass and Avery Bradley will indeed garner most of the attention, the Celtics are well aware that it will take the play of some of the team's unsung heroes - players like Hollins - to contribute in a meaningful way even if his statistics only tell part of the story of how much he has contributed to the C's being where they are now.

"He's one of the better defensive centers in the league," said Boston's Paul Pierce. "He had a huge offensive rebound there late in the game when Kevin missed. Doc is going to call upon certain guys on certain nights; some guys won't play on certain nights, some guys will and they have to be ready. Ryan Hollins is just one of those guys that was ready to play (in Game 6)."

Beyond the numbers: The dual threat of Avery Bradley


Beyond the numbers: The dual threat of Avery Bradley

BOSTON – Another year, another season in which Avery Bradley plans to showcase a new and improved skill that will benefit the Boston Celtics.
But with each improved skill, Bradley moves just that much closer to being an all-around, two-way talent that creates problems for teams at both ends of the floor.
We all know about Bradley’s defense, which was good enough to land him a spot on the NBA’s All-Defensive first team last season. He also gets props for steadily improving his game offensively in some area every summer, but defenses might have their hands full more than ever with Bradley.
According to NBA stats guru Dick Lipe, the 6-foot-2 Bradley was the only guard in the NBA last season to shoot better than 70 percent in the restricted area among players who took a minimum of 200 field goal attempts.
He is among a list that includes Los Angeles Clippers big men DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin; Miami’s Hassan Whiteside; current teammate and former Atlanta Hawk Al Horford; San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge; Golden State’s Kevin Durant and Atlanta big man Dwight Howard.
But if you’re thinking about keeping him away from that part of the floor, Bradley also made the 3-point shot a bigger part of his offensive game last season; as in, 40 percent of his shots came from beyond the 3-point line.

Having that kind of diversity makes him a difficult player to get a clear read on how to defend. And because of that, it may open things up even more so for his teammates.
Bradley can shoot from the perimeter; he can score close to the rim. His ball-handling skills have improved in the offseason to where it no longer looks as though it’s a major weakness.
And he defends at a level few players in the league can match.
Collectively it makes Bradley one of the many challenges awaiting teams whenever they face the Celtics, a player who is poised to showcase his diverse set of skills beginning tonight against the Brooklyn Nets. 

Pregame number: Al Horford to the rescue


Pregame number: Al Horford to the rescue

Tonight’s pregame number to watch is 45.4%. That was the Celtics' score frequency on pick and rolls finished by the screener last season, which was the worst rate in the NBA.

Score Frequency: The percentage of possession in which the team or player scores at least 1 point.

The major problem for the Celtics last season was personnel, as Jared Sullinger finished the most pick and roll plays for the C’s after setting a screen, and he was -- to put it nicely -- freaking terrible. Sullinger was the second-worst roll/pop man in the league, averaging a paltry 0.87 points per possession.

Fortunately, the Celtics replaced Jared Sullinger with four-time All-Star Al Horford, who is one of the elite roll/pop men in the NBA. Last season, Horford finished fifth in the NBA averaging 1.13 points per possession as a roll/pop man and boasted a more than solid 57.1 eFG% on those plays. 

eFG% (Effective Field Goal Percentage): Measures field goal percentage adjusting for the fact that a 3-point field goal is worth one more point than a 2-point field goal. The equation is ((FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA

If you watched the preseason, then you already know the kind of impact Horford can have on the Celtics half court offense. So keep an eye out for those pick and rolls tonight and throughout the season, and we should see that 45.4% Score Frequency jump somewhere closer to 50%.