Down goes Pau

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Down goes Pau

The Celtics are in Toronto tonight to take on Rudy Gay and the Raptors, but I'm having a hard time keeping the focus off tomorrow's date with the Lakers. After all, it's the Lakers. And this year's Lakers have garnered more attention than any Lakers team in a long time. And for Celtics fans, it's attention for all the right reasons.

More bad news arrived today for LA, as they learned and we learned, courtesy of CBS' Ken Berger that Pau Gasol will miss at least six weeks with a partial tear of his plantar fascia.

Of course, that means that Pau will miss tomorrow's game in Boston, and losing another big man is just about the last thing this team needs. They're already without Jordan Hill (who's out for the year with hip surgery). They haven't been able to rely on Dwight Howard (who's struggling through back AND shoulder issues and has missed the last three games.)
Chances are that Howard will try to play tomorrow, especially after he was called out by Kobe last night in Brooklyn. But if he can't play, the Lakers are in trouble. More trouble than they've been in all season. And that's saying a lot.

Then again, the Lakers issues will be the least of Boston's concerns if they look past Raptors like I'm doing right now. Here's hoping they take care of business tonight, and return to American soil ready to beat down the beat up Purple and Gold.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Bradley locked in during return to Celtics lineup vs. Hornets

Bradley locked in during return to Celtics lineup vs. Hornets

BOSTON – When you look at Avery Bradley’s growth this season, seeing the tremendous strides he has made offensively is clear.

But at the heart of Bradley’s game remains a desire to dominate a matchup as a defender, something that was alive and well on Monday as he made his return to the floor after missing the four previous games with an Achilles strain.

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Bradley’s defense would prove instrumental in Boston’s 108-98 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday.

He was 2-for-9 from the field and played nearly 33 minutes against Hornets which is just a couple minutes under his season average of court time.

Usually he’s responsible for providing a boost at both ends of the floor.

But considering his long lay-off, it was clear early on that he was locked in defensively more so than looking to get back on track shooting the ball.

“You take any type of games off in this league, your rhythm and all that you gotta get it back,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder.

Even though his shots weren’t falling, Bradley was on top of his game defensively while guarding 6-foot-8 Nicolas Batum who is six inches taller but never was a factor on Monday.

Batum finished with eight points on 2-for-11 shooting from the field.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens liked what he got out of Bradley in his return to action.

“I thought he (Bradley) was great,” Stevens told CSNNE.com. “He did everything we needed him to do. We knew there would be a little bit of rust (shooting the ball), but that’s part of you playing your way back into it.”

As far as Bradley’s stifling defense on Batum, Stevens said, “You have to do that against Batum. I thought Avery did a really good job of that. It’s a hard matchup no matter what way you go. Batum, giving up inches to him. He (Bradley) was there on the catch all night.”

And as Bradley gradually gets back into a flow, he’ll regain the form offensively that made him one of the NBA’s better two-way players this season.