McHale can relate to talk of current aging Big Three

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McHale can relate to talk of current aging Big Three

BOSTON Not a game goes by it seems without a question or two centered around whether Danny Ainge should start to break off some - or all - of the Celtics' Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett or Ray Allen.

Few can speak on the subject matter better than Kevin McHale, who was literally in the shoes of Boston's current Big Three near the end of his Hall of Fame career with the Celtics.

"They're playing better than we did," said McHale, referring to himself, Larry Bird and Robert Parish. "At this point in our careers, we were all beaten down, had injuries and all that other stuff which is hard to deal with. It happens to everybody. It's just part of the game."

So is getting old, something McHale admits isn't easy to deal with for some players.

"Getting old in the NBA is not for the meek or the mild," said McHale, who now coaches the Houston Rockets. "Your mind is sharp as it's ever been. Sometimes athletically-wise, you can't do some of the things that you could (do earlier)."

And when that happens, production falls off.

When production falls off, players have to acknowledge their decline which for many, is a tough pill to swallow.

"If you're honest with yourself, you wake up in the middle of the night and go, 'You suck!'" McHale said. "Some people can't do that."

McHale, who spent his entire 14-year career with the Celtics (1980-1993), battled a series of injuries near the end of his career.

"I never appreciated enough guys who just grind themselves to a numb and got little accomplished (near the end of their careers)," McHale said. "I became one of those guys."

McAdam: Ridiculous to think Bradley's streak ended because he hit leadoff

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McAdam: Ridiculous to think Bradley's streak ended because he hit leadoff

BOSTON -- If you think John Farrell's decision to hit Jackie Bradley Jr. leadoff for one night is the reason Bradley's 29-game hit streak came to an end, I've got some swamp land you might be interested in buying.

Such silly talk first surfaced mid-afternoon when the lineup was announced. With Mookie Betts getting his first day off this season, somebody had to hit leadoff. Farrell went with the guy who was leading the league in hitting.

That sounds reasonable. But not to some, who cried that putting Bradley at the top was (take your pick) disrupting Bradley's routine, putting him in a place with which he wasn't familiar, or asking him to change his approach.

Of course, none of those made much sense.

First of all, Thursday night marked the sixth (SIXTH!) different spot that Bradley has hit during the hitting streak. He had hit second, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth. So the notion that any change was disruptive was absurd.

As for the notion that Bradley would treat his at-bats differently because he was leading off? Also wrong. Bradley's major adjustment since spring training has been being aggressive early in the count. So, do you know how many pitches Bradley saw in four at-bats as the leadoff hitter? Eight.

Does that sound like someone who was being forced to be more patient for the night, or someone changing their approach by working the count more?

Finally, Bradley hit two balls on the screws -- one to the warning track in right, just in front of the bullpen in his first at-bat and another in front of the center field door, some 400 or so feet away, in his third.

Streaks come to an end, even when hitters belt the ball hard. Twice.