Bradley faces tough challenge in Harden

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Bradley faces tough challenge in Harden

BOSTON Avery Bradley will be tested every night he steps on the floor.

It comes with the territory when you have the kind of rep Bradley has developed as a lock-down, in-your-face defender.

And while many are looking forward to his matchup tonight against Houston's explosive scoring guard James Harden, Bradley's approach is no different tonight than it would be for any other player.

"He's a good player," Bradley told CSNNE.com. "There's a lot of great players in the league. All you have to do is try and make it hard on them."

And Bradley has been able to do this in a variety of ways.

For quick guards, Bradley uses his strength and lateral quickness to become a pest and force them into either dribbling too long, losing the ball or giving it up to a teammate sooner than they would like.

Against bigger guards like Harden (6-foot-5, 220) who has Bradley by three inches and about 40 pounds, keeping as close to Harden's body will be instrumental in limiting Harden who averages 26.5 points per game this season.

"There's a lot of two-guards bigger than me," Bradley said. "Like I said, you have to make everything hard on him."

Boston dropped a 101-89 loss to Houston on Dec. 14, a game in which Bradley saw from the sideline (he was still recovering from his shoulder surgeries at that time) how the Rockets had little problem getting anything and everything they wanted in handing the Celtics a loss in which the final score wasn't nearly as lopsided as the actual game played.

However, Harden had just 21 points on 6-for-17 shooting that night which as it turns out, was the last time Harden scored less than 25 points in a game - a span of 14 games.

"He probably had an off night," C's Brandon Bass told Comcast SportsNet. "That's all I will say. But tonight, we got a better defender on him."

And that would be Bradley, who will be playing in his sixth game of the season after spending the first 30 games recovering from surgery on both his shoulders.

"We weren't playing the way we wanted to," Bradley said of last month's loss in Houston. "We had flashes of playing the way we want to play every now and then."

But Bradley, like the Celtics, isn't dwelling on the past right now.

Instead, he's more consumed by helping the C's extend their season-long winning streak to five in a row against a Houston team that has won 12 of its last 16 games.

"It's a whole new game for us," Bradley said. "We're building right now. We just have to continue to get better."

And part of that improvement will be Bradley passing yet another test of his defensive prowess against one of the more challenging scorers in the NBA - James Harden.

Isaiah Thomas continues to claim Celtics' franchise records

Isaiah Thomas continues to claim Celtics' franchise records

BOSTON – This continues to be a historic season for Isaiah Thomas as more records fell in Wednesday’s 103-100 loss to Milwaukee, and the company he’s keeping becomes even more exclusive. 

Thomas had a game-high 32 points on Wednesday which included five made 3’s on nine attempts. That gave him 223 for the season which is a new franchise single-season record for made 3-pointers. The previous record was 222 set by Antoine Walker during the 2001-2002 season.

And his 32 points scored gives him 2,012 this season. 

Only six players in franchise history (Paul Pierce was the last to do it during the 2005-2006 season) have scored 2,000 or more points in a single season. 

Oh, there’s more. 

With Wednesday being the 66th time this season he has had 20 or more points, Thomas has now tied Pierce (2005-2006) and Larry Bird (1985-1986; 1987-1988) for sixth on the Celtics’ single-season franchise list. 

“I didn’t even know that,” a visibly disappointed Thomas said following Wednesday’s loss. “It doesn’t feel that good right now. But when I look back on it, probably in the offseason, I’ll appreciate it a little more. But I’m just staying in the moment and try and play as best I can to lead this team to as many wins as possible.”

Other season milestones Thomas is in the mix for include the following:

  • The 5-foot-9 guard is one of three players this season to have 50 or more games of 25-plus points, joined by Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook (57) and Houston’s James Harden (54).
  • Thomas has made at least one 3-pointer in a franchise-record 50 straight games (Dec. 3 – March 29). That’s also the longest current streak in the NBA. 
  • With 66 games of 20 or more points this season, Thomas is second in the NBA to Westbrook (67).

Marcus Smart at center of yet another controversial call

Marcus Smart at center of yet another controversial call

BOSTON – One of the more bizarre plays in Boston’s 103-100 loss to Milwaukee came in the second quarter, requiring some explanation from the officials afterwards. 

With 3:55 to play in the second quarter, the officials had originally called a foul on Marcus Smart which he verbally protested that eventually led to him being whistled for a technical foul. 

After the officials reviewed the play, they changed the call to a personal foul against Khris Middleton but no change to the called technical foul against Smart who objected to a call that, upon review, they agreed was the wrong call to make. 

Official Sean Corbin, through pool reporter Ken Powtak of the Associated Press, acknowledged that the original call was a loose ball foul against Smart. 

“The (officiating) crew got together, we met prior to video and we decided that we needed to look at video because both players were on the floor bleeding so we went to the video for a hostile act,” Corbin told Powtak. “In the review we noticed that Khris Middleton initially made contact to Marcus Smart’s face. That’s how the original contact to the play occurred.”

Fortunately for the Celtics, Middleton missed his technical free throw while Smart split a pair of free throws which cut Milwaukee’s lead to 49-40.

Still, that’s no consolation for Smart who was whistled for a technical foul on a play that the official acknowledged was the wrong call to make. 

In the fourth quarter, Smart was at the center of yet another controversial call that was also reviewed by the officials. The verdict wasn't nearly as good for Smart who was whistled for a flagrant foul after getting his feet tangled up with Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo who was called for a non-shooting foul in the play with 4:46 to play. 

Antetokounmpo made one of two free throws and on the Bucks' ensuing possession, he was called for traveling.

Smart was unavailable to talk after the game in part because the aforementioned incident left an abrasion to his mouth and, because of the technical foul, a little lighter in the wallet as well.