Moore demonstrates growth in return to Boston

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Moore demonstrates growth in return to Boston

BOSTON -- E'Twaun Moore was surprised when he heard the news. He had been expecting to be told the Boston Celtics were picking up his contract. Instead, they informed him he had been traded to the Houston Rockets.

"I was just surprised," Moore said in his first return to the TD Garden on Friday. "Of course I didn't know it was about to happen. At the moment I was just shocked."

Moore had posted 25 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists in his final Las Vegas Summer League game and thought he had shown enough to earn a spot on the Celtics roster this season. Even though he played limited minutes his rookie year, he demonstrated his potential when given the opportunity on the court.

The Celtics were eyeing another guard, though. They packaged Moore, JaJuan Johnson, Sasha Pavlovic, and Sean Williams in a multi-team deal that sent Courtney Lee to Boston in late July. The Rockets then waived Moore shortly after, leaving the former 55th overall pick looking for a job.

Unsure of where he would end up, Moore believed he would land on an NBA team. In September, the Orlando Magic signed him as a free agent and gave him the chance to put what he had learned out on the floor.

Moore is averaging 8.8 points, 2.5 assists, and 2.2 rebounds per game this season, including 14 points and four rebounds in the Magic's 97-84 loss to the Celtics.

"I knock down shots, play the backup point, try to help facilitate the team when I'm in," he said. "My knowledge of the game is a lot better this year. I have more of an idea of what's going on and plays teams are trying to run. From a mental standpoint, I have a better feel for what's going on."

Moore spent most of his rookie season watching the Celtics veterans from the sidelines. Now that he has the opportunity to play increased minutes, he is utilizing all the wisdom and mental notes he gained during his year in Boston.

"I'm just trying to put it all together on the court," he said.

Celtics, Hawks admit Bradley injury had big effect on series

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Celtics, Hawks admit Bradley injury had big effect on series

BOSTON - The Celtics weren’t looking to make excuses after their elimination from the playoffs Thursday night.

That said, there had to be a pretty big “if” going around the locker room throughout the series. There certainly was among Celtics fans.

If . . . Avery Bradley was healthy, the Celtics may have won the series.

Health as a whole was a big problem for the Celtics. Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, and Kelly Olynyk were all banged up.

But Bradley injuring his hamstring in Game 1 greatly changed the series, taking away Boston’s best on-ball defender (and one of the league’s best on-ball defenders). Bradley could also be counted on to hit the outside shot, opening up the floor for teammate Isaiah Thomas.

Without Bradley, the Celtics were forced to bring Evan Turner off the bench to start in his place. That took away the bench’s best offensive weapon.

Not having Bradley isn’t the only reason the Celtics lost the series, but it has to be considered a big factor.

“Yeah that hurt us a little bit. That’s a key part of what we’re about,” Jae Crowder said. “We tried to fight through it and the next guy tried to step up. But of course we missed him. We missed him a lot and we missed what he brings to the team. It sucks that it happens, but injuries are a part of it. He had one that he couldn’t fight through and we just tried to step up for him. But at this time of the season, a lot of guys hurt, and his was so unfortunate for us that it kept him out and it hurt us.”

The Celtics’ loss was the Hawks’ gain. Guys like Kyle Korver were able to get free easier at times. Korver  averaged 12.2 points per game and made three three-pointers a game (shooting 45-percent from the three-point line, five percentage points higher than in the regular season). Korver is well aware how important Bradley is to the Celtics.

“He’s a really good player. It’s been incredible to watch his offense catch up to his defense,” Korver said. “When he has it going I look at him as a great shooter. He’s so quick on the dribble handoffs and they run a lot of stuff for him. He’s really improved as a shooter and obviously his defense has always been great. It’s unfortunate that he got hurt, it does feel like they have a lot of guys similar to him; feels like they draft a new one every year. He’s a really good player and that definitely hurt them.”

It had to be tough for Bradley to watch from the bench as his team struggled, but that will hopefully only make him hungrier to win next season, with perhaps another former Texas Longhorn by his side in the starting lineup.

After up-and-down rookie season, Hunter looks to get stronger

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After up-and-down rookie season, Hunter looks to get stronger

WALTHAM, Mass. – R.J. Hunter no longer has to worry about summer days spent with his nose inside a textbook (or tablet) while taking summer school classes.
 
But make no mistake about it.
 
The Celtics rookie knows he has a lot to learn in what will be an important offseason in his growth as an NBA player.
 
There were many things to like about Hunter, who was selected by Boston with the 28th overall pick in last June’s NBA Draft.
 
But like most rookies, Hunter’s play was an up and down affair throughout the season.
 
He appeared in 36 regular-season games, averaging 2.7 points and 1.0 rebounds in 8.8 minutes per game. In the playoffs, he appeared in five games and averaged 1.0 points, 1.2 rebounds in 8.2 minutes.
 
He had flashes of big-time talent like the 12-point performance against the Atlanta Hawks in November. But those type of games were few and far between as that would serve as his only double-digit scoring game of the season.
 
“It was up and down, but a lot more ups than downs,” Hunter said following his exit interview on Friday. “I was further along than I thought I would be. It’s kind of cool to see what I have to work on for the summer and not have summer school or any other summer obligation. I think it’ll be a fun summer.”
 
The big thing for Hunter this summer is to, well, get bigger.
 
He came into the NBA amid concerns that his lithe frame would not withstand the physical rigors of the NBA.
 
And while there’s no question Hunter had his problems at times defensively due to not being stronger, he seemed to know where he needed to be and what to do most of the time when he was no the floor.
 
That’s why for him to solidify himself as a viable option for the Celtics next season, it’s important that he put in the time to improve his overall strength.
 
Hunter said he will be doing that throughout the summer with half of his time spent here in Waltham.
 
“That takes time and a lot of dedication,” Hunter said. “But I’m definitely up for it.”
 
In addition to strengthening his body, he’ll also look to improve his understanding and knowledge of the game through studying video.
 
Among those he will study is Atlanta Hawks guard Kyle Korver, a player Hunter said he has been watching video of all season.
 
“You look at how hard Kyle Korver cuts all game long,” Hunter said. “It’s things like that. It’s about getting conditioning, getting stronger and doing a lot of preparation before the shot.”
 
Hunter said this will be the first time he has watched video in the summer months.
 
“That should put me two or three steps ahead to when the season starts,” he said.
 
Which would then put Hunter in strong contention to see his role next season expanded, especially when you consider his strength – shooting the ball – is arguably the biggest weakness on this Celtics’ roster.