Notes: Green answers Rivers' defensive challenge

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Notes: Green answers Rivers' defensive challenge

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The Boston Celtics had the victory over Philadelphia well in hand.

All Philadelphia's Marreese Speights wanted was a bucket during garbage time.

Jeff Green wasn't having it, as he delivered a highlight-worthy block in the closing seconds of Boston's 99-82 win.

Green, who also had eight points and seven rebounds, came into the game with a bit of a defensive chip on his shoulder.

Coach Doc Rivers had said recently that Green needs to pick his game up on the defensive end of the floor, in addition to improving his rebounding numbers.

Consider both missions accomplished on Tuesday.

"It was great," said Rivers, referring to Green's defense. "We got on him a little bit the last couple days about defense and rebounding. I thought he answered tonight."

But Green, the Big East's Defensive Player of the Year in 2007, can't allow Tuesday night's strong performance be a one-night thing.

"For him, it has to be a repetitive act now," Rivers said. "He has to do it next game and the game after that. It has to become a habit."

It's fair to say that Philadelphia's Evan Turner, the No. 2 overall pick in last year's NBA draft, hasn't had the kind of rookie season most envisioned. He has been in and out of the Sixers lineup, still searching for a more defined role.

One of the knocks on Turner has been that he's not aggressive enough.

That wasn't a problem in Tuesday's loss to the Celtics.

Turner, who came into the game averaging 6.9 points per game, had 21 points - just two shy of tying his career-high - off the Sixers' bench.

While Turner hasn't had the kind of impact fans have come to expect from a player taken so high in the draft, coach Doug Collins said it has more to do with Philadelphia's personel than any shortcoming in Turner's game.

"I don't know a lot, but I do know what player's strengths and weaknesses are, and Evan's really, really good when he has the ball in his hands," Collins said. "When we have Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams, and Dre Andre Iguodala, I mean it's hard to have that fourth guy out there with the ball in his hands."

But with Williams (hamstring) out for the rest of the regular season and possibly some of the playoffs, opportunities for Evans to prove himself may be more plentiful in these final regular season games.

"We put the ball in his hands a lot on Tuesday; he attacked, he played great, I was proud of him," Collins said. "When he didn't play it wasn't something he did, and it's not because he wasn't a really good player. Just sometimes you're trying to put it all together and piece it together and it's hard."

It's looking more like that slump of sorts that Ray Allen was in, is now a thing of the past.

For the second straight game, Allen shot the ball extremely well.

In Boston's 99-82 win over Philadelphia, Allen had 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting from the field. That performance came on the heels of a 5-for-6 shooting performance in Boston's win over Detroit on Sunday.

Prior to that, Allen was 26-for-73 from the field (35.6 percent) from the field in Boston's previous seven games.

Rivers has maintained all along that Allen is simply going through one of those shooting funks he goes through every season.

That's why he's not overly concerned with Allen's struggles, nor does he believe that it will have any impact on Allen's confidence in shooting the ball.

"Ray never lost his confidence," Rivers said. "He just couldn't make a shot. You know, Ray is shooting anything leather. He is. He's not going to lose confidence. He's going to struggle like we all struggle at times."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

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.