Dooling makes impact in first start for Celtics

630444.jpg

Dooling makes impact in first start for Celtics

BOSTON -- Keyon Dooling had started nearly 100 games over his career before joining the Boston Celtics this season.

On Wednesday night, he got his first nod with his new team. Dooling started at shooting guard in place of Ray Allen, who was battling flu-like systems, in the Celtics 89-70 win over the New Jersey Nets.

It was a transition not only to the starting lineup, but playing to the two-guard rather running the floor as the point guard like he has been doing with the Cs.

I think the adjustment for me is getting most of my minutes at the point versus starting at the two, he told CSNNE.com prior to the game. Its a totally different position -- less ball handling, less responsibilities, but more continuity stuff, so its my job. Ive got to know two positions and thats why I prepare for two positions.

Dooling played 31 minutes, scoring five points (2-for-6 FG) and chipping in one assist. After the game, he was glad the Celtics earned a W, which came from a second-half comeback. Dooling's third-quarter trey broke a 40-40 tie, and the Celtics outscored the Nets 23-7 after that point in the remainder of the quarter.

At the end of the day, we got the win, Dooling said. I didn't shoot the ball the way I wanted to, but defensively, I think, in the second half we really turned it up. Obviously MarShon Brooks had a great first half . . . he had 15 points, and I couldn't allow him to do that again in the second half. So I really wanted to focus on defense and we had a 29-12 quarter. That was the difference of the game, I think.

Both Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce noted Doolings experience in the lineup.

He brought energy, said Garnett. We know that hes an outside threat, obviously he can shoot threes, but his energy and his energy and his leadership is what we value here. I thought he brought more of a defensive mindset to the starting lineup versus offense, and I thought second half we got into a better flow versus first half.

Pierce would not have minded seeing Dooling taking a few more shots, but believes that will come with time.

Keyon, he fills in for Ray, a veteran presence, know-how, a guy who can knock down shots, another ball handler, he said. Its kind of unconventional that we run kind of a like a two-point guard front set. Youve got two ball handlers so you would think wed probably run a little bit more, but its just about probably implementing him more with the starting unit and him understanding because at times I thought he had opportunities offensively that he should have took, but he swung the ball. But thats just us breaking him into the starting unit and getting more comfortable with what we do out there.

For Dooling, this start was different not only because of the position he played or the teammates he shared the court with, but for the franchise he started for.

At this point in my career, I'm grateful for every second I get to play in this amazing league. he said. But when you have a historic organization like this one, it's just a whole different ball game. I can't explain it. It's just something that I have never experienced, on any level. The commitment to winning over here is second-to-none. The history of the banners that you see, everywhere you look, it's history. Even in our lockers you see former players who've worn your number. So it's just totally different in that aspect.

Highlights: Boston Celtics 109, Indiana Pacers 100

Highlights: Boston Celtics 109, Indiana Pacers 100

Catch the highlights of the Boston Celtics 109-100 win over the Indiana Pacers at home and hear from Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, and Al Horford.

Bradley 'not even tired' after playing 39 minutes vs. Pacers

Bradley 'not even tired' after playing 39 minutes vs. Pacers

BOSTON – As Avery Bradley made his way to the middle of the post-game media scrum inside the Boston Celtics locker room, he was informed that he had played 39 minutes in their 109-100 win over Indiana.

“I played 39?” Bradley said. “Man, I’m not even tired.”

And that may be the clearest sign to date that Bradley, a defensive pest who has been pestered by injuries this season, is as healthy as we’ve seen him in some time.

In addition to scoring 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting, he also grabbed eight rebounds, dished out a couple of assists, had a steal and was the head of the defensive snake that made life as hard as possible on Paul George who still managed to have a big night scoring the ball.

For Bradley to play so many minutes is a bit of a surprise when you consider how overcautious the Celtics were with his return from a right Achilles injury that kept him out for 18 straight games.

Bradley attributes the Celtics having some time off leading up Wednesday’s game.

“It was good for us and we were definitely prepared (on Wednesday),” Bradley said. “And it showed we’re improving every day as a team. We’re really locking in when we need to.”

And while he was one of three different primary defenders on George (Marcus Smart and Jae Crowder were the others), Bradley was the guy head coach Brad Stevens turned to most consistently down the stretch.

Bradley was the only Celtic to play all 12 minutes of the fourth quarter. The only other players that were on the floor for the entire fourth quarter, were Indiana's Monta Ellis and George.

You think Bradley was out there to shut down (2-for-10 from the field) Ellis?

Uh … nope!

“He (Bradley) was on Paul some,” Stevens said. “Not the whole time he was in. Marcus (Smart) guarded him a lot. Jae (Crowder) guarded him some as well. We just felt like we had to rotate bodies on them. I did not plan on playing Avery quite that many minutes.”

Stevens put Bradley back in the game to start the second and fourth quarters, something he normally does for Terry Rozier who did not play (coaches decision).

“And he maybe sat a minute at the end of the second,” Stevens said. “So that’s 24 minutes and usually it’s about twelve-to-fifteen.”

The additional playing time is something Bradley certainly isn’t going to ever complain about.

The same holds true for the Celtics having clinched a playoff spot prior to Wednesday’s tip-off.

“I don’t think anyone talked about it,” Bradley said. “We were just treating this like any other game, try to be prepared, go out there and execute the offensive game plan … I feel we did a great job of doing that.”

Indeed, the Celtics are playing with a flow and overall rhythm that’s making it extremely tough on their foes.

“If you look at their roster, everybody knows what to expect out of everybody,” said Paul George. “There’s never a moment where a guy is like, ‘What kind of shot are you taking?’ or ‘what are you doing?’ They are beyond that.”