It's the Celts' home opener, and the heat's still on

787652.jpg

It's the Celts' home opener, and the heat's still on

With all the fanfare and embarrassment of Opening Night out of the way, its time for the Celtics to get down to business. Tonight, theyll host the Mil-ay-wa-kay Bucks at the Garden, and in a weird way, theres far more on the line than there was on Tuesday in Miami.

Thats because on Tuesday, the Celtics had nothing to lose. This explains why, in the aftermath of the ugly loss, we all spent far more time obsessing over KG snubbing Ray and Rondo fouling Wade than we did anything pertaining to the actual game. I mean, what were you going to say? They lost to the best team in the NBA, playing with a roster of guys who barely know each other, and with a Kevin Garnett who clearly needs a little time before finding his rhythm within the flow of regular-season basketball. Okay. Whatever. Its over.

But in terms of tonight, the Bucks are obviously not the Heat. The Bucks are a franchise thats registered only one winning season over the last 10 years and hasnt won a playoff series since some dude named Ray Allen led them to the Conference Finals back in 2001. This year, theyd be happy with an eighth seed. The bar isnt set very high.

With Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings in the starting backcourt, the Bucks will push the tempo tonight, which should allow the Celtics to spread their newfound young and athletic wings. It will give Rajon Rondo a chance to run; perhaps more importantly, it will give Jeff Green a chance to run and shake off the rust from his Miami mess. However, Milwaukee also arrives with some significant size. Samuel Dalembert, Drew Gooden, Ersan Ilyasova, Joel Przbilla and Ekpe Udoh all stand 6-foot-10 or taller and will all figure into Scott Skiles' rotation, which might force Doc Rivers to make some adjustments. (Chris Wilcox, anyone?) The Bucks big men also present an interesting dynamic within their own team, between the run-and-gun guards and the more stationary front court. Merging those two styles will be one of the toughest tasks on Skiles' plate this year.

But regardless of how the Bucks attack Boston, the Celtics should be able to handle it. If they just play their game, if they execute on offense and make the basic rotations on defense, they should win. They will win. And if thats the case, everyone can move on from the Miami loss with the confidence that things are moving in the right direction. Meanwhile, the Bucks will assume the role of the Celtics from earlier in the week. What can we say? We lost on the road to one of the best teams in basketball . . . in their home opener!

But in the event of a Celtics loss, there will be no escape from the disappointment; no hiding behind the drama that comes with flagrant fouls and reunions gone wrong. If they lose, all anyone will want to talk about is why and how and what is wrong with this team. It will be obscenely early to get carried away, but I dont think that will stop us.

And thats that. Opening night at the Garden. The hype leading up to tipoff might not match what we all experienced on Tuesday, but the aftertaste of a loss will be far more sour.

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

WALTHAM, Mass. – The right Achilles’ strain that has kept Avery Bradley out of five of the Celtics’ past six games, will continue to keep the 6-foot-2 guard sidelined.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Bradley will not play Saturday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
 
Stevens added that no additional tests have been taken and the Achilles’ itself is structurally fine.
 
“He’s got a lot of soreness around it, and that’s one of those things you have to be ultra-careful with,” said Stevens, who later added that Bradley would not practice with the team today. “When he [Bradley] came back, he said he felt a lot better, and then he played and the next day he practiced. We didn’t do anything live but he did a lot of cutting and did not feel near as good. That’s why he didn’t play Wednesday.”
 
The absence of Bradley was clearly felt in a 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday, a game in which Knicks guard Derrick Rose – the man Bradley would have likely spent defending most of the game – scored 30 points.
 
This season, all-NBA first team defender is  the Celtics’ No. 2 scorer at 17 points per game along with averaging a team-best 6.9 rebounds.
 
In addition, Bradley is shooting a career-best 40.9 percent from 3-point range, as well as dishing out 2.4 assists per game, which also represents a career-high for the 26-year-old.


 

Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown still undecided on All-Star dunk contest

Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown still undecided on All-Star dunk contest

WALTHAM, Mass. – To dunk or not to dunk with the best in the NBA?
 
That is the question Celtics rookie forward Jaylen Brown is grappling with these days.
 
The 6-foot-7 Brown confirmed that he has been invited to be part of the league’s Slam Dunk competition at All-Star weekend, but hasn’t made up his mind as to whether he will participate.
 
Brown said he’ll likely make a decision about it sometime this weekend.
 
While he certainly understands that is indeed an honor for any player to be asked to participate in All-Star weekend, Brown said his trepidation about being part of the slam dunk competition has a lot to do with its potential impact on his body and how that may affect his ability to recharge over the weekend and get ready to finish out his rookie season strong.
 
If he decided to enter the contest, he would be facing some really stiff competition from last year’s winner Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando’s Aaron Gordon, whose battle last season put their slam dunk competition among the best ever.
 
Facing tough competition is not something that concerns Brown.
 
“I’m not worried about anybody or anything,” Brown said. “I think I have a lot to offer. Just like your rookie year, your body and everything … it’s a lot. All those dunks, they look cool but it takes a toll on your body for sure. I want to put myself in the best position to help the team.”
 
While his focus has been on the Celtics, Brown acknowledged he has been getting a few tips on the competition from teammate Gerald Green, who is also a former Slam Dunk champion.
 
“[Gerald] Green has been coaching me up, giving me a lot of good ideas I wouldn’t have thought on my own,” Brown said. “If I do decide to do it, it’ll be some stuff [nobody] has seen before.”