Celtics not concerned with quick turnaround

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Celtics not concerned with quick turnaround

MIAMI The quick turn-around for the Boston Celtics is seen by most as a bad thing.

The C's are an older team that's coming off a long, seven-game playoff series against Philadelphia. They're facing a younger, more athletic team in the Miami Heat who will be well-rested after wrapping up their playoff series with Indiana on Thursday.

No one questions the value that comes with added rest, young or old team. But the way the Celtics tell it - or spin it, depending on your choice of words - rhythm is more important at this point in the playoffs than rest.

That's why they're actually glad -- at least that's what they're saying now -- to have games every other day of the Eastern Conference finals, beginning with Game 1 in Miami on Monday.

"I like it that way," said Celtics forward Paul Pierce. "It keeps us in a rhythm, it keeps us playing. We're an older team so we don't want to sit around for too long."

While it may prove beneficial now, you have to wonder if playing every other day will catch up to the Celtics deeper into this series.

It certainly did in their second-round matchup with Philadelphia. This was especially noticeable in their Game 6 loss. In that game, there were a number of shots taken by the Celtics early on that hit the front of the rim - as clear an indicator as any to a team having fatigued legs.

Fortunately for Boston, there was an extra day in between Games 6 and 7, which seemingly provided just enough added rest for them to pull away for an 85-75 win.

The C's will not have that luxury in this round.

Brandon Bass is 27 years old, and he acknowledges that the entire rest versus rhythm debate is one for his more experienced teammates to ponder.

"That's cool with me," Bass said of the schedule. "I'm 27. I'm ready to go. For our older players, I think that we have gotten rest and they're in a good rhythm by not being able to rest for two or three days. I think it's great for us."

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.