Rondo, Garnett two peas in a pod


Rondo, Garnett two peas in a pod

WALTHAM -- The common opinion around the NBA is, players don't enjoy playing against Kevin Garnett but love being his teammate.

Rajon Rondo only knew Garnett as an opponent during his rookie season. Over the past five years, they have developed a close relationship as teammates, mentormentee, and big brotherlittle brother.

"I would probably say Kevin is my closest friend on the team," Rondo said Friday on Boston Celtics Media Day.

In spite of a ten-year age difference, the big man and point guard have clicked. They share the same intense passion to win, as well as other interests off the court. More importantly, Garnett has been in Rondo's corner since the first day they met in the summer of 2007.

"Kevin always wants to see me do well," said Rondo. "From day one, I think my second year, when he first came in he told me he would be disappointed if I wasn't the MVP of the league one day, if I wasn't considered the best point guard one day. He's always pushed me and expected more out of me than a lot of people did. He's always showed me how to become a better person each day. Whenever I mess up, Kevin's always the one to tell me, 'You should do this, you should conduct yourself this way or handle it that way.' So he's kind of like a big brother-slash-mentor and he's always wanted the best for me. We kind of gravitated toward each other. Obviously off the court we have a lot of things in common. We share the same interest in a lot of things and like I said, he's been like a big brother to me."

Rondo is entering his seventh year in the NBA and looks up to Garnett's career, which began in 1995 when Rondo was only nine. Now 26, Rondo is incorporating some of Garnett's proven methods to maintain and extend his playing years.

"The way he goes about the game and approaches the game, he's a future Hall of Famer and I consider him one of the greatest players to ever play the game that's been in front of me," said Rondo. "So he's inspired me to work hard, come in every day and put up extra shots, take care of my body, get the proper rest, get massages, get treatment, get stretching, I guess have longevity. He's played 17 or 18 years and only two or three players can say they've done it in this era. There's a way to take care of your body. It's not easy. I'm feeling it six years in, so 17, 18 years I can only imagine what his body feels like. He's very disciplined and he takes care of his business."

Last season Garnett scoffed when critics called him "old" and questioned how many years he had left in the league. He signed a three-year deal with the Celtics this summer, just months after turning 36. Rondo laughs at the skepticism of his teammate and mentor and big brother.

"I don't take Kevin for granted and our team doesn't as well," he said. "So we value him very much and he'll be a big part when we try to win a championship this year."

Bradley continues adapting, improves ball-handling and court vision


Bradley continues adapting, improves ball-handling and court vision

WALTHAM, Mass. – Just like Avery Bradley comes back each season with a new element in his basketball tool box, defenses have adapted to some degree to try and counter whatever Bradley is doing a better job at.

Before it was take away the mid-range shot and make him a 3-point shooter. Now it’s run him off the 3-point line by closing out hard and fast against him.

Well, running him off the 3-point line is actually playing into the hands of two areas of Bradley’s game that have seen significant growth during the offseason: ball-handling and court vision.

Bradley’s improvement in those areas has been evident in the preseason, something the seventh-year guard hopes to continue in the regular season opener on Wednesday against the Brooklyn Nets.

“I worked on my ball-handling a lot,” Bradley said. “Instead of doing all the Kyrie (Irving) stuff that trainers have people do, I tried to focus on just one or two moves, just perfecting a few moves that I can put into my game.”

What we’ve seen from Bradley is better sense of when to attack players with his ball-handling and when to use it as a set-up to get his teammates good shots.

He attributes both to the work he has put in and just becoming an older, more wiser player on the floor.

“I’m able to make plays for my teammates because I’m a lot more confident in my ball-handling, in my play-making and my decision-making," said the 25-year-old Bradley. "I feel a lot more comfortable out there.”

While it may not seem like that big a deal that Bradley’s putting the ball on the floor more and attacking off the dribble, it’s actually really important for this Celtics team.

With Bradley now looking to attack off the dribble more, that means that the Celtics now have a starting five – Isaiah Thomas, Bradley, Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson and Al Horford – with each player comfortable and confident in their ability to take most defenders and their respective positions, off the dribble.

That makes Boston a significantly better team offensively in terms of being highly unpredictable and to a larger degree, tougher to contain.

“He’s a great defender, one of the best in the NBA,” Boston’s Amir Johnson told “But people sleep on his offensive game. He can hit the corner 3s, wing 3s, pull-up jumpers … he can pretty much do it all out there. Now that he’s looking to get to the rim more, that just makes him and our team really, much better.”

Indeed, Bradley sounds as though he plans to continue probing different ways to generate points for the Celtics.

One approach he’ll surely take is to do a better job of taking advantage of the mistakes defenses make against him, like players who try and chase him off the 3-point line.

“Me being  a better 3-point shooter should challenge me to think the game a little more,” he said. “If it’s drawing fouls … I know I should be drawing more fouls from the 3-point line. There are times when people are just running out of control at me at the 3-point line. I have to be smarter.”

Bradley added, “I worked on that this summer. It’s translated in practice, so now it needs to translate in games.”

Bradley supporting Olynyk as he returns from shoulder surgery


Bradley supporting Olynyk as he returns from shoulder surgery

WALTHAM, Mass. – Avery Bradley had just returned to the Boston Celtics lineup after having had surgery on both shoulders, eager to put his injury-riddled days in the past.

Then-Celtics assistant coach Tyronn Lue had suffered a similar shoulder injury a decade earlier in 2003, so he knew all too well what Bradley was going through.

“I remember Tyronn Lue took me to the side and said, ‘you’re going to struggle,’” Bradley recalled. “When he said it to me, I was like, ‘what is he talking about?’”

The words of Lue, now the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, were indeed prophetic. And now that current Celtics big man Kelly Olynyk is back to practicing after having surgery on his right shoulder, Bradley plans to be there for Olynyk the way Lue was there for him.

Bradley, who missed the first 30 games of the 2012-2013 season recovering from the injury, recalls struggling with his shot for the first couple of weeks.  

His first game back was Jan. 2, 2013. For the next two weeks, Bradley shot 40.6 percent from the field (28-for-69) and 28.6 percent (8-for-28) on 3s, both below his career averages in those respective categories.

Bradley is hopeful Olynyk doesn’t struggle as much as he did upon his return to the lineup from shoulder surgery.

But just in case, Olynyk knows he has a teammate who literally knows what he’s going through right now in trying to get back on the floor and play good basketball.

“It’s our job as his teammates to help keep him confident in himself,” Bradley said. “I told him, ‘you’re going to have your days when you come in and you might make shots. Then you’ll have your week where you don’t make a shot.’ You just have to stay confident.”

But Bradley admits it’s a lot easier said than done, especially when you’ve had success shooting the ball and now all of a sudden the shots that you normally make in your sleep keep you up at night wondering why they no longer going in.

“It just happens. The muscle memory, you have to get it back,” Bradley said. “It’s just reps; that’s what it took. It took like maybe a good month before my shot felt good again. It’ll probably be the same for Kelly; hopefully not. If it is, I’ll be there to make sure he’s positive and knowing it’s a process and he has to continue to get shots up.”

But there’s more to returning to the game when healthy.

While the body may be ready to go, the mind more often than not hasn’t totally cleansed itself of the injury.

“It’s still in the back of your mind, thinking it’s going to happen again,” Bradley said. “You may not want to drive it to the basket as much or box out the same way or be aggressive. But like I said, we have to give him that confidence and he has to do his work as well, staying in the weight room, making sure he’s strong. We’re here to help.”

And no one is offering the consistent assistance that Bradley has to his injured teammate.

“I’ve taken him to the side like five times already and I told him, ‘I’m here bro. Whatever you need,’” Bradley said. “I’m just happy that he’s back."