Bradley forced into action with West out

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Bradley forced into action with West out

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

SALT LAKE CITY Avery Bradley is a work in progress.

That makes him no different than most NBA rookies.

But most of them aren't learning a new position, surrounded by not one, not two, but on many nights, as many as four future Hall of Famers.

Bradley didn't have a monster game in Boston's 107-102 win at Utah on Monday.

However, the 6-foot-3 combo guard continues to show glimpses as to why the C's are so high on him moving forward.

With Delonte West out with a right ankle sprain, the C's had little choice but to use Bradley as the team's backup point guard.

He played just over six minutes, and finished with four points, one rebound and an assist.

More than that, he gained more experience with Boston's first unit which can only bode well for his development.

"It felt good," Bradley told CSNNE.com. "Just getting more reps in practice, working more with my teammates. They make me feel so comfortable, that once I get in there, it's like practice. Just go hard."

Defensively, Bradley has done enough to where the Celtics are not overly concerned about that aspect of his game.

However, he does need to continue to improve as a playmaker which is aided in part by the talent he faces on a daily basis in practice.

"Playing against Rondo every day, he's going to get better," said Kevin Garnett.

What jumps out about Bradley's play on Monday was that in the six minutes he was on the floor, he wound up taking six shots.

At the time he was subbed out, Bradley had taken more shots than any other Celtic.

Of course that won't hold up over the course of a game, but Rivers doesn't mind Bradley shooting when the opportunity presents itself.

"He played great," Rivers said.

Rivers was especially pleased with his aggressive play at both ends of the floor.

"I just told him, 'Listen, at the end of the day, shoot the ball,' " Rivers said. "That's what he is; he wants to be a scorer. He'll learn that position. But if the play breaks down, don't think, 'Run the team.' Think, 'Get to the basket,' and I thought he did that."

Bradley said Rivers' words are consistent with what he tells every player on the team.

"Having a coach like that, it makes you feel good," Bradley said. "You just know all you have to do is go out there and play hard, and things will come. That's what happened."

Bradley's inquisitive nature has made him a young player that all of the Celtics seem to want to take under their wing.

"I really like the kid," said Paul Pierce. "I see how he works. He soaks up so much in practice. You can see him wanting to get better. He's always asking questions. He's always in the huddle; just little things that we see; we know this kid is going to be a player. It's just about getting more time and experience."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

First-place Celtics continue to focus on playing well, not standings

First-place Celtics continue to focus on playing well, not standings

WALTHAM, Mass. – When it comes to NBA standings, no Celtic pays closer attention to it than Isaiah Thomas.
 
But the 5-foot-9 All-Star is quick to say that while he’s aware of what’s happening with other teams record-wise, Thomas, like his teammates, isn’t obsessed with it, even with the Celtics (48-26) now in first place in the East following Cleveland’s loss at San Antonio on Monday.
 
“It’s a good feeling,” Thomas said. “It’s still not the end of the year; anything can happen. It’s a nice feeling to be the number one seed for once, but we just have to continue to control what we can control.”

The fact that Boston is even in position to finish with the best record in the East is amazing when you consider injuries and illnesses have forced them to use 13 different starting lineups this season.
 
And the preferred starting five of Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Al Horford and Amir Johnson has played together 31 times and posted an impressive 24-7 record.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been consistent in his message that while having the best record in the East is nice, he’s more consumed with the team continuing to improve.
 
“It doesn’t mean a whole lot right now,” Stevens said of being in first place. “The whole idea is to make progress, get better every day and stay in the moment. You do that if you’re in last place trying to build up or whether you’re in a position where you’re fighting for seeding. Ultimately, we’ve been able to grow and get a little bit better. But I still think we can play a lot better. That’s where my focus is.”
 
And the same holds true for his players. Thomas knows how unusual this season has been for the Celtics, who continue finding ways to win despite frequently being short-handed.
 
The latest example of that involves forward Jonas Jerebko, who is questionable for Wednesday’s game against Milwaukee because of a sore left knee that limited him in Tuesday’s practice.
 
“It’s a long season. A lot of things can happen whether they be good or bad and we know that,” Thomas said. “We just try to withstand the storm we’ve had a few times this year, and continue to try and stay as positive as possible and we’ve done that. We’re in a good position right now. We just have to continue to take care of business.”
  
And that means steadily improving while piling up the wins, particularly against teams such as the Bucks (37-36), who are among a handful of teams that could potentially be Boston’s first-round opponent.
 
Milwaukee comes in having won 11 of its past 14 games.

“It makes the game that much more important,” said Celtics guard Avery Bradley. “Just like the Miami game. We want to let the teams know now, they go up against us in the playoffs, it’s no mercy. We’re going to play hard. We’re going to bring it every single night. We’re going to play Celtics basketball every single night. Them knowing that, we can scare a lot of teams if we’re playing the right way.”

Jerebko questionable for Wednesday against Bucks

Jerebko questionable for Wednesday against Bucks

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Celtics have spent most of this season playing short-handed and Wednesday’s game against Milwaukee will potentially be another one of those games.
 
Veteran forward Jonas Jerebko has a sore left knee and is considered questionable for the Bucks’ game.
 
“Jonas went through about half of [Tuesday’s] practice,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens.
 
Jerebko has missed two games this season due to illness.
 
Because of Milwaukee’s length at seemingly every position, Jerebko’s ability to play both forward positions will be something the Celtics will surely miss if he’s unable to play.
 
This season, Jerebko has appeared in 69 games while averaging 3.9 points and 3.4 rebounds while shooting 44.1 percent from the field and 35.0 percent on 3’s.