Magic plan accordingly for Bradley's defensive pressure

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Magic plan accordingly for Bradley's defensive pressure

ORLANDO, Fla. Glen Davis is not a player that comes to mind when you think about an enforcer.

But he understands all too well that Boston's Avery Bradley's on-the-ball pressure has to be curtailed tonight if the Magic are to avenge Boston's decisive win on Monday.

"He'll be seeing me today," said the former Celtic, who will look to set more screens in hopes of freeing up the Orlando ball-handlers from Bradley's suffocating on-the-ball pressure.

Orlando head coach Stan Van Gundy said the key to not allowing Bradley's defense to dominate tonight's game is two-fold.

Orlando point guard Jameer Nelson has to do a better job of handling Bradley's pressure, and the Magic as a whole have to take some of the ball-handling pressure off of Nelson as well.

Van Gundy has been around long enough to know that on-the-ball pressure is a given most nights.

What made Bradley's pressure wasn't that he did it; but that he did for so long.

"It's generally with backup guards like Avery Bradley, that you're going to see that kind of ball pressure," Van Gundy said. "What Avery Bradley did, he did it for a lot of minutes in that game. You gotta give him a ton of credit pressuring the ball.

"But if you had to to do that 82 games a year, this year 66, as a starter, it would be very difficult. So it's generally those guys who don't have to play 3,000 minutes in a year who can come in and use that energy. So you're not used to seeing it a lot. You might see it a possession or two, but that full-game thing I give him a lot of credit. It's the best job of anybody doing it, I've seen in a lot of years in this league."

Davis, in his first season with Orlando after four seasons in Boston, said he saw signs of this kind of potential in Bradley during his rookie year last season.

"Avery is a great player. His defensive game is unbelievable, the way he approaches the game defensively, the way he attacks," Davis said. "I've seen it. It's just about him getting on the court and doing what he has to do.

Davis added, "I've never seen a point guard dominate the game like that, in a way that got us out of our offense, got some key steals."

Three things we learned from the Red Sox’ 11-9 loss to the Twins

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Three things we learned from the Red Sox’ 11-9 loss to the Twins

Three things we learned from the Boston Red Sox’ 11-9 loss to the Minnesota Twins . . .

1) David Price isn’t having fun

Boston’s $217 million-dollar arm had another rough outing -- this time against a team that already has 60 losses.

Those are the team’s he’s supposed to dominate.

“It’s been terrible,” Price said on how his season has gone following the loss. “Just awful.”

Price’s mistakes have often been credited to mechanical mishaps this year. Farrell mentioned that following his start in New York, Price spent time working on getting more of a downhill trajectory on his pitches.

But Price doesn’t think his issue is physical.

So it must be mental -- but he doesn’t feel that’s the case either.

“Honestly I don’t think it’s either one of those,” Price said when asked which he thought was a factor. “It’s me going out there and making pitches. “

But when it comes down to the barebones, pitching -- much like anything else -- is a physical and mental act.

So when he says it’s neither, that’s almost impossible. It could be both, but it has to be one.

His mind could be racing out on the mound from a manifestation of the issues he’s had throughout the season.

Or it could just be that his fastball isn’t changing planes consistently, like Farrell mentioned.

Both could be possible too, but it takes a certain type of physical approach and mental approach to pitch -- and Price needs to figure out which one is the issue, or how to address both. 

2) Sandy Leon might be coming back to Earth

Over his last five games, Boston’s new leading catcher is hitting .176 (3-for-17), dropping his average to .395.

A couple things have to be understood. His average is still impressive. In the five games prior to this dry spell, Leon went 7-for-19 (.368) But -- much like Jackie Bradley Jr. -- Leon hasn’t been known for his offensive output throughout his career. So dry spells are always tests of how he can respond to adversity and make necessary adjustments quickly.

Furthermore, if he’s not so much falling into a funk as opposed to becoming the real Sandy Leon -- what is Boston getting?

Is his run going to be remembered as an exciting run that lasted much longer than anyone expected? Or if he going to show he’s a legitimate hitter that can hit at least -.260 to .280 with a little pop from the bottom of the line-up?

What’s more, if he turns back into the Sandy Leon he’s been throughout his career, the Red Sox will have an interesting dilemma on how to handle the catching situation once again.

3) Heath Hembree has lost the momentum he gained after being called up.

Following Saturday’s contest, the right-hander was demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket after an outing where he went 1/3 of an inning, giving up a run on three hits -- and allowing some inherited runners to score.

Hembree at one point was the savior of the bullpen, stretching his arm out over three innings at a time to bail out the scuffling Red Sox starting rotation that abused it’s bullpen.

His ERA is still only 2.41 -- and this has been the most he’s ever pitched that big league level -- but the Red Sox have seen a change in him since the All-Star break.

Which makes sense, given that hitters have seven hits and two walks against him in his 1.1 innings of work -- spanning four games since the break.

“He’s not confident pitcher right now,” John Farrell said about Hembree before announcing his demotion. “As good as Heath has been for the vast majority of this year -- and really in the whole first half -- the four times out since the break have been the other side of that.”

Joe Kelly will be the pitcher to replace Hembree and Farrell hopes to be able to stretch him out over multiple innings at a time, as well.