Milicic to do 'whatever it takes' to help Celts . . . and rehab his reputation


Milicic to do 'whatever it takes' to help Celts . . . and rehab his reputation

WALTHAM As Darko Milicic saunters on to the practice court, he doesn't have the swagger of a guy who was the No. 2 overall pick in a superstar-rich 2003 draft class. He's not the kid who couldn't beat out a couple of past-their-prime journeymen in Dale Davis or Elden Campbell, either.

All the things of the past that seemed to weigh Milicic down, appear to have dissipated -- for now, at least.

Reliving the past doesn't do Milicic any good. Living in the past? That's even worse.

"I'm done trying to prove I'm the No. 2 pick and that expletive stuff," Milicic told "This year, it's all about Celtics, to show that I am a team player. It's not about me. It's about us as a team.

Milicic added: "I'll do whatever it takes, whatever I need to do to help this team. So now, if I have to go kill someone on the court, I'll kill someone on the court."

Uh, just grab a few rebounds, maybe block a shot or two and defend.

Basketball homicide not required.

"Whatever needs to be done for the team to be better," Milicic added, "I'll do it."

As he stands towering over a reporter, Milic's growth physically is apparent.

A skinny teenager when he came into the NBA after being selected by the Detroit Pistons, Milicic isn't pushed around quite as easily.

Today, he's a 275-pound 7-footer who isn't afraid to deliver a foul.

During the 2010-11 season, Milicic averaged 3.32 personal fouls while appearing in 69 games. Only five players in the NBA that season had a higher fouls-per-game average while appearing in as many games.

His growth maturity-wise, remains a mystery.

It has been an issue with every team he has played for, including the Minnesota Timberwolves, who waived him via the league's amnesty rule this past summer.

The move was made to free up salary cap space to pursue other free agents. Salary cap space or not, getting rid of Milicic was a priority for Minnesota once the season ended.

"At the end of the year, Rick Adelman, Minnesota's head coach gives me a report of what he thinks of each player," Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor told Twin Cities Business magazine. "He tells me it's the same one he gave David Kahn, Minnesota's GM and that David knows he is giving it to me. Then he goes through the list. He says, 'This is the first one I want gone' - that was (underachieving veteran center) Darko."

Even before that, discontent with Milicic was apparent.

He hasnt done anything to really give you a lot of faith that hes going to go out and do the job, Adelman said of Milicic in March. Hes gotten himself out of shape. He hasnt been as driven as youd like so when a situation like this happens, its time for someone to have their opportunity and get back in there."

Milicic's fall from grace was unexpected considering how he played in 2010-11 season. He appeared in 69 games (all starts) and averaged a career-high 8.8 points to go with 2.03 blocks, which ranked fifth in the NBA.

An injury early in the 2011-12 season sidelined him. From there, things only got worse.
His playing time went from little to non-exist.

After starting the first 18 games, Milicic appeared in just 11 more games all season.

"I was trying to find answers," Milicic said. "Nikola Pekovic, he started playing well. I wasn't asking about starting. I wanted to ask about why I wasn't playing at all. I hear a lot of this and that . . . I was like, 'If you guys going to fool around and make excuses' . . . we kind of separated from each other."

So the eventual parting was one in which both sides clearly felt was necessary.

"We didn't have good communication," Milicic said. "That's what happens."

And so there lies another chapter in the book on Milicic that doesn't have a happy ending.
Which raises the question: Why should anyone think things will be different here in Boston?

For starters, Milicic doesn't have nearly as bright a spotlight on him now as he has had with previous teams.

Just as interest in him has waned off significantly, so have expectations. Teams see him now as a 27-year-old NBA veteran who, with the right team, might be able to contribute.

At least, that's what Boston is hoping for.

"He has size," said coach Doc Rivers. "He has skill in a lot of areas. I think he can help us."

And if it doesn't work out, it's a one-year deal for the veteran's minimum, which is a small price to pay for the potential benefits of having Milicic on the roster.

Regardless of whether he plays a prominent role off the bench or is limited to spot duty, Mililic should benefit from the time he spends playing with and practicing against Kevin Garnett.

"That's going to be good," Milicic said. "It's good when you have somebody pushing you to your limit. Those guys have experience playing in the finals, going deep into the playoffs. That's what they have in mind. They don't think about losing; they think about winning a championship, especially this year. All these guys are getting old now. They're looking forward to winning one or two more championships. I'm here now to help them, whatever it takes."

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.”