Celtics, Heat react to news of Rondo's ACL tear

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Celtics, Heat react to news of Rondo's ACL tear

BOSTON Within moments of what was their biggest win of the season, the Boston Celtics were in no mood to celebrate.

Shortly after the C's 100-98 double overtime win over Miami, Celtics coach Doc Rivers broke the news to his players that Rajon Rondo had a torn right ACL injury and would be lost for the rest of the season.

Within minutes, the news of Rondo's injury spread to the Heat locker room.

Here's a sampling of how players on both teams reacted to the news that Rondo, the NBA's assists leader, was done for the season.

"He's our leader, and it hurt. It's tough to hear that news, one of our top players go down. We have to be there for him. We just have to continue to build. Everyone collectively has to step up." - Celtics forward Jeff Green

"It's tough; tough on everybody. He's becoming the heart and soul of this team. He's coming into his own. It's a blow man, I'm not gonna front. It's a blow." - Celtics big man Kevin Garnett

"Very tough and sad. I still have faith that he's going to come back as soon as possible. He's a big key for this team; a big difference. We here to get his back, to support him in anything he needs. It's sad. I can't believe that it's like that. Hopefully he'll be OK." - Celtics guard Leandro Barbosa

"We're family, so you feel bad for him. You know I know he wants the best for us, and wants us to continue to go out there and play hard for him every game. And that's what we are going to do." - Celtics guard Avery Bradley

"You have a lot of mixed emotions in here. You want to celebrate the win but yu now you feel for y9our teammate, a leader. Pretty much wherever he goes, we go. It's hard knowing that he's going to be out for the year. It's a tough pill to swallow." - Celtics forward Paul Pierce.

"It's sad news but we've got to fill his shoes the best way we can and that's just going out there and playing hard." - Celtics guardforward Courtney Lee

"One thing about this league is it's a brotherhood. You never want to see anyone go down with any kind of injury, especially a season-ending injury. So it's very unfortunate and it sucks, man. He's a great player and he really is the leader of this team and obviously guys are gonna have to step up for them, but this year they lost the leader of their team, so it's tough for the game to lose a player like Rondo, but especially for Boston." - Miami guard Dwyane Wade

"It sucks. It's terrible. As much as a competitor and as much as I've been a rival with Boston over the years, I never want to see anyone go down and knowing the competitor that he is and knowing how talented he is, I think it's terrible. Not only for their team but for the league." - Miami forward LeBron James

Bradley's emergence as vocal leader speaks volumes about growth

Bradley's emergence as vocal leader speaks volumes about growth

BOSTON –  Terry Rozier was having a rough stretch where his minutes were limited and when he did play, he didn’t play particularly well.
 
Among the voices in his ear offering words of encouragement was Avery Bradley who knows all too well what Rozier was going through.
 
For all his time as a Celtic, Bradley has let his work on the floor do the talking for him.
 
But as the most tenured Celtic on the roster, his leadership has to be about more than just getting the job done, but servicing as a vocal leader as well.
 
For a player whose growth from one year to the next has been a constant, being a more vocal leader has been the one dynamic of his game that has improved the most during this past season.
 
And it is that kind of leadership that will carry into the summer what is a pivotal offseason for both Bradley and this Celtics franchise which was eliminated by Cleveland in the Conference finals, the first time the Celtics got that deep in the playoffs since 2012.
 
He is entering the final year of the four-year, $32 million contract he signed in 2014. And it comes at a time when his fellow Tacoma, Wash. native and backcourt mate Isaiah Thomas will likely hit free agency where he’s expected to command a max or near-max contract that would pay him an annual salary in the neighborhood of $30 million.
 
At this point in time, Bradley isn’t giving too much thought to his impending contract status.
 
Instead, he’s more consumed by finding ways to improve his overall game and in doing so, help guide the Celtics to what has to be their focus for next season – a trip to the NBA Finals.
 
While Celtics players have said their focus has always been on advancing as far into the playoffs as possible, it wasn’t until this past season did they actually provide hope and promise that Banner 18 may be closer than you think.
 
It was an emotional time for the Celtics, dealing with the unexpected death of Chyna Thomas, the younger sister of Isaiah Thomas, just hours before Boston’s first playoff game this season.
 
And then there were injuries such as Thomas’ right hip strain that ended his postseason by halftime of Boston’s Eastern Conference finals matchup with Cleveland.
 
But through that pain, we saw the emergence of Bradley in a light we have seldom seen him in as a Celtic.
 
We have seen him play well in the past, but it wasn’t until Thomas’ injury did we see Bradley showcase even more elements of his game that had been overlooked.
 
One of the constant knocks on Bradley has been his ball-handling.
 
And yet there were a number of occasions following Thomas’ playoff-ending injury, where Bradley attacked defenders off the dribble and finished with lay-ups and an occasional dunk in transition.
 
Among players who appeared in at least 12 playoff games this year, only Washington’s John Wall (7.9), Cleveland’s LeBron James (6.8) and Golden State’s Stephen Curry (5.2) averaged more points in transition than Bradley (4.7).
 
Bradley recognized the team needed him to be more assertive, do things that forced him to be more front-and-center which is part of his evolution in Boston as a leader on this team.
 
“It’s weird but players like Al (Horford) definitely helped me get out of my shell and pushed me this year to be more of a vocal leader,” Bradley said.
 
And that talent combined with Bradley doing what he does every offseason – come back significantly better in some facet of his game – speaks to how he’s steadily growing into being a leader whose actions as well as his words are impactful.