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."

OFFSEASON

Celtics must address needs with free agency on the horizon

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Celtics must address needs with free agency on the horizon

BOSTON -- With more salary cap space than they've ever had along with a slew of clear and well-defined needs, the Celtics are sure to be one of the busier teams when free agency begins on Friday.

And while the Celtics’ needs may be all over the place, there is one thing that head coach Brad Stevens and the rest of the Boston Celtics have made no secret about wanting to come away with this offseason.

“The need for increased versatility,” Stevens said.

Indeed, Stevens envisions the NBA becoming more of a position-less league going forward.

When you look at the Cleveland Cavaliers rallying from a 3-1 deficit to knock off Golden State, of course LeBron James was brilliant as well as Kyrie Irving. 

But one of the more stealth keys to that series that factored into its outcome, was the way Cleveland's 6-foot-9 power forward/center Tristan Thompson was able to hold his own defensively against two-time league MVP guard, 6-3 Stephen Curry.

His play was as clear an example of the value in having players with defensive versatility as you will find.

It also has value on the offensive end of the floor as well. 

That helps explain why LSU’s Ben Simmons was selected with the top overall pick, a player with power forward size (6-10, 240) with point guard-like vision.

And in many ways it speaks to why the Celtics decided to draft Jaylen Brown with the No. 3 pick instead of a playmaker like Providence College’s Kris Dunn or sharpshooters like Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield or Kentucky’s Jamal Murray.

Brown stands 6-7, weighs 223 pounds and has a 7-foot wingspan with elite athleticism and quickness getting to the paint. 

“Very few guys can move like Jaylen, can move at his size and at his length,” Stevens said. “So the defensive versatility is a big piece of that; that should be transferable right away.”

As for free agency, the same mantra – seek out versatile players – will remain in effect for Boston.

Of course Kevin Durant is at the top of the Celtics’ free agent wish list after Durant reportedly included Boston on the list of teams he will meet with in New York shortly after free agency begins.

In addition to the Celtics and his current team Oklahoma City, Durant is also planning to talk with officials from the following teams: Golden State, the Los Angeles Clippers, Miami and San Antonio.

Along with Durant, the Celtics are also expected to express interest in Atlanta’s Al Horford; New Orleans’ Ryan Anderson; and possibly Golden State’s Harrison Barnes who will be a restricted free agent which often serves as a deterrent for potential suitors. However, Barnes could wind up being an unrestricted free agent if the Warriors feel as though they will land Durant.

Regardless of which free agents wind up in Boston, you can count on versatility being one of their strengths.

“I only look at the game in four spots; ball-handlers, wings, guys that can play that three-swing spot (some power forward as well as small forward) and bigs,” Stevens said. “The more versatile, the more position-less, the better. That overall provides more opportunities than it does not. That’s a positive when you talk about guys that can do different things at different positions.”