Hollins takes on increased role for Celts

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Hollins takes on increased role for Celts

ATLANTA For most of this season, the Boston Celtics have been a team built on opportunities.

If you get one, take it.

That's exactly what C's center Ryan Hollins has done lately, whose play may earn him even more minutes -- and potentially move him ahead of rookie Greg Stiemsma in the rotation.

Hollins' play was among the few highlights for the Celtics in their 87-86 loss to Atlanta in Game 5.

He had 5 points and 4 rebounds, numbers that came well short of indicating just how much of an impact he had on the C's in Game 5.

Boston was plus-6 with Hollins in the game. The only Celtics with a higher plusminus ratio in Game 5 were Mickael Pietrus (plus-11) and Kevin Garnett (plus-17).

"His energy . . . the one thing you know when Ryan comes in the game, is something's going to happen," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "That's why we put him in and we rode him."

In just a few minutes of court time, Hollins' aggressive play seemed to bother the Hawks who managed to foul him three times away from the ball.

Ranked by a survey of players as the NBA's 11th dirtiest player, it's clear that Hollins is from the Kevin Garnett School of Mental Warfare.

When asked about possibly getting under the Hawks' skin a bit, he replied, "Hopefully. My job is to come out and play hard."

Said Rivers: "He's an instigator with how hard plays. He gets under people's skin. That's fine by us."

That's exactly what he did.

His play was especially important during a critical 10-0 run by Boston that featured Rajon Rondo either scoring or assisting on all but two points during the run.

Part of that success involved Hollins, who helped force a couple of turnovers in addition to catching a lob pass from Rajon Rondo for an alley-oop in the second half.

"I'm always trying to bring energy," Hollins said. "If I'm not bringing energy or changing the game, I'm not doing my job. So that's what I do."

And he may continue to get opportunities as Greg Stiemsma continues to struggle.

Atlanta's athletic frontcourt has seemed a bit overwhelming at times for Stiemsma, who has also labored up and down the court with foot issues.

Certainly his health has been a factor in Hollins' rise to a more prominent role.

But more than anything else, Hollins is simply playing better -- a lot better -- than Stiemsma.

Atlanta has the kind of lineup versatility that makes this series one seemingly more suited for Hollins than Stiemsma.

But don't think for a minute that Hollins is taking his increase in playing time for granted.

"I'm ready for any situation," Hollins said.

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.