For Celtics, no Bosh just means more James, Wade

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For Celtics, no Bosh just means more James, Wade

MIAMI The absence of six-time all-star Chris Bosh on paper at least, is a good thing for the Boston Celtics.

But C's coach Doc Rivers coaches against players, not paper. He knows all too well that no Chris Bosh means more opportunities for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to dominate play.

"It almost activated them (James and Wade) to be more aggressive, which puts a lot of stress on your defense," Rivers said.

Since Bosh went down with an abdominal strain that has kept him sidelined for Miami's last five games, the James-Wade tandem has been in the kind of flow, the kind of rhythm that has been seldom seen before.

After Bosh went down in Game 1 of their second round series with his current injury, the Heat dropped two straight and fell behind, 2-1, in their best-of-seven series.

With an extra day off between Games 3 and 4, it allowed the Heat to get healthy both mentally and physically.

Part of that improvement involved figuring out how to fill the void left behind by Bosh's absence.

Sure, the Heat have a handful of big men such as Udonis Haslem who have been called upon to contribute more in his absence.

But the true turn-around for them without Bosh, has been James and Wade.

In the five playoff games without Bosh, James and Wade have combined to score 58.6 percent of Miami's offense. And if there's an assist made by the Heat, chances are pretty high - 63.2 percent high - that it was one of them.

Celtics guard Rajon Rondo says Miami has become, "a two-man team."

He added, "Those guys are unselfish, especially LeBron. They have to take a couple more shots per game, but they're still trying to find their teammates. When they don't, they make the plays for themselves."

So if there's any thought that the C's were catching a break with Bosh out of the lineup, Rivers and his players don't see it.

"When you have two players as dynamic as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are, the last thing you want is for those guys to have more opportunities to be great, which is what they have with Bosh out," C's guard Keyon Dooling told CSNNE.com. "Chris is great player for them, but those guys (James and Wade) are smart, intelligent, very talented basketball players. They know how to play, and play at a high level, regardless of who is on the floor or who is out."

The C's have had their share of injuries all season. And while some might believe those injuries made the Celtics worse off, Rivers has a slightly different take on the matter.

"I don't know what the difference is (without Bosh)," Rivers said. "But just like our guys, (being injured) changes you. It shouldn't make you worse, it should just make you different."

Jaylen Brown may be the future of Celtics, but he's focused on now

Jaylen Brown may be the future of Celtics, but he's focused on now

BOSTON – This is not how this is supposed to work.

When the regular season ends for high draft picks, there’s usually a nice, warm island awaiting their arrival in late-April when the regular season ends.

But this was no typical rookie season for Boston’s Jaylen Brown.

And as we have seen, Brown isn’t your typical rookie.

Drafted with the third overall pick in last June’s NBA draft, the 6-foot-7 Brown found himself in the rotation on a Celtics team that advanced all the way to the Eastern Conference finals before having their season end at the hands of the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

The path towards individual and team success is littered with struggles and potholes of strife along with the pain of disappointment cluttering up things as well.

From within that rubble lies promise; the kind that has Celtics Nation justifiably excited about the future of Brown with the Celtics.

But Brown isn’t about the future, folks.

“I’m excited about the now,” he said. “I’m excited about this summer. I try not to look too far ahead. Everybody talks about the future and how much potential we have; I’m worried about the now. I want to be part of the now. That’s all I’m focused on.”

That kind of focus is among the many reasons that despite being a rookie, his teammates quickly sensed that the now-20-year-old had his sights set on not just talking about cracking the rotation but actually putting in the work that would leave head coach Brad Stevens no choice but to play him.

“He’s going to be really good,” said Boston’s Gerald Green. “If he keeps his same mentality; he’s humble. And continue to work on his game and continue to learn.

Green added, “he couldn’t be in a better place, than being here. With his talent and his work ethic, he’s going to be great.”

But like most rookies, Brown’s play was anything but a steady on-the-rise movement.

His first NBA start came on the road at Cleveland on Nov. 3.

Boston lost the game, but Brown won over many with his career-high 19 points while spending a good deal of the night guarding LeBron James.

In his next four games, Brown scored a total of just 17 points.

And in Boston’s first-round series with Chicago, Brown's role shrunk in the last four games – all Celtics wins. In those games, he played a total of just under 10 minutes.

So what did he do?

He got back in the gym, continued to work on his game and do a better job at making the most of the minutes he received.

More than anything else, Brown attributes his improved play as the season progressed to simply figuring out the NBA landscape as far as what he could do and what he needed to work on, to get better.

Which is why there are many who believe that Brown will be a much better player than the one we saw this season.

That said, he still had decent numbers – 6.6 points and 2.8 rebounds while shooting 45.4 percent from the field and 34.1 percent from 3-point range.

“I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, coming into the NBA,” Brown said. “Throughout the year, I don’t think people expected me to contribute as much as I did. Now just getting to the Eastern  Conference finals and losing, it builds a hunger you know;  I have a bad taste in my mouth. Gotta put in work during the offseason and come back stronger.”

Like Brown, Al Horford came into the NBA as a high draft pick who wound up in the playoffs that rookie season.

Horford can totally relate to Brown’s comments about not knowing what he was getting into.

“The first year you’re really feeling everything out,” Horford said. “Jaylen has an understanding now of what the league is about. It’s a lot for a rookie to handle. Now he has a better idea (so) he can just focus on getting better, working on his game and I expect him to be much better his second year.”

Brown will have the knowledge gained from being part of a team that came within three wins of getting to the NBA Finals.

To come that close is tough to accept, but Brown sees it all as part of a bigger plan for him and his role with the Celtics moving forward.

“I can use it as fuel. I’ve been learning all year,” Brown said. “I’ve had ups, I’ve had downs, I’ve had opportunities, I’ve had mistakes. So I’ve been learning and growing and improving all year and I’m going to continue to grow and improve and prove people wrong, prove doubters wrong.”

And that process Brown speaks of has certainly been aided by being in a successful situation like Boston compared to some other lottery picks who saw lots of playing time but showed minimal growth playing lots of minutes.

“Being on a winning team and developing good habits, learning how to win, play the game the right way … learning that at a young age is really going to help me,” Brown said. “A lot of young guys, they don’t learn that early. They have to figure it out three, four, five years in. I’m happy I learned it now.”

And while the learning will continue on for Brown during this offseason, it won’t be nearly as tough now than it was when he came into the league.

“I know exactly what I’m preparing for,” Brown said. “I expect a really different result.”

Brown added, “I want to be ready for whatever is thrown at me; no excuses whatsoever.”

Now that’s how this is supposed to work!