Bradley cutting things up for the Celtics

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Bradley cutting things up for the Celtics

WALTHAM When the Boston Celtics drafted Avery Bradley, he was billed as an athletic combo guard who could score.

But little did anyone know at the time that Bradley's best means of generating points for the C's wouldn't be with him knocking down jumpers, or by beating defenders off the dribble lay-ups.

It would be lay-ups, courtesy of some really crisp cutting to the basket.

Yes, it's such a very basic play. But it has become a bread-and-butter bucket-maker for the Celtics, who hope to continue that trend tonight against the San Antonio Spurs.

The C's have spent a good chunk of this season teaching the 6-foot-2 guard how to cut to the basket effectively within their system.

Teaching him how to do it, is no longer needed.

"He's not learning anymore," Rivers said. "He knows how. He had the instinct and didn't know it. And now he's doing it. Now, he's just doing it on his own instincts. It's all him now."

And it could not have come at a better time, with Bradley seeing an increased role with the Celtics due to Ray Allen's right ankle injury.

In Bradley's first stint as a fill-in starter, he replaced Rajon Rondo who was out for eight games with a wrist injury.

Part of Bradley's responsibilities then included initiating the offense, which to a large degree made it difficult for him to be an effective scorer cutting to the basket.

Plus, at the time, Bradley wasn't nearly as comfortable doing it as he is now.

"I'm just trying to keep working hard and doing whatever I can to help my team win games," Bradley told CSNNE.com. "If that's playing good defense, scoring, whatever it is, I'm willing to do. As far as scoring, my teammates are doing a great job of finding me."

Bradley has had a number of solid games scoring, but none compare to the career-high 23 points he scored in Boston's win over Washington on March 25.

As you watched Bradley score at will against the woeful Wizards, it all seemed to come so easy for him.

He'd run from one sideline to the other, and when Rajon Rondo or Paul Pierce penetrated the lane, he'd find an avenue to fill, they would pass him the ball . . . lay-up.

Over. And over. And over again.

Everyone seemed impressed by Bradley's ability to score except Washington Wizards coach Randy Wittman, who was not all that impressed with Bradley's career night scoring.

"I could have scored those lay-ups," Wittman said at the time. "I am being serious. We didn't have anybody guarding him. He ought to send us a postcard of thank-yous or something for allowing him to score."

While Bradley will likely go back to the bench with Allen expected to start tonight, you can expect him to continue to find ways to make an impact, one cut at a time.

"It's like something has been freed up in him," Rivers said. "He sees it now. He reads it, and he's fantastic at it now."

Bradley returns to Celtics' lineup for Sunday's game vs. Heat

Bradley returns to Celtics' lineup for Sunday's game vs. Heat

BOSTON -- Avery Bradley, whose flu-like symptoms landed him in the hospital and forced him to miss Friday’s game against Phoenix, tells CSNNE.com that he will play tonight.
 
“I didn’t get [out of the hospital] until [Saturday] evening,” Bradley told CSNNE.com. “My stomach still hurts a little bit, but I’m all right. I’ll be good.”
 
The importance of Bradley to this team cannot be overstated.
 
His ability to make a major impact both as a scorer and an elite defender separates him from not only his teammates but from most guards in the NBA.
 
However, his health has been a season-long issue in some form or another, which can be seen in the fact that he has missed 24 games via injury or illness -- more than any other player on the Celtics roster.
 
When he has played, Bradley has delivered on several fronts.
 
He’s averaging 16.9 points per game while averaging 6.2 rebounds per game - both career highs -- which rank second and third, respectively, on the Celtics roster this season.

Five things to look for from the NFL annual meetings this week

Five things to look for from the NFL annual meetings this week

PHOENIX -- Bill Belichick may not be speaking with the media here this week, but there will be plenty for us to examine at the annual league meetings. 

Reporters were informed via a team spokesperson that the Patriots coach would not be in attendance at the AFC coaches breakfast Tuesday morning -- where in the past orange juice has been sipped and tape recorders have been bulldozed -- due to a scouting conflict. 

The breakfast is not mandatory for coaches so for Belichick to use his time at a college pro day (Florida, Texas and Iowa State all have theirs scheduled for Tuesday) or a private workout comes as little surprise. He's been busy on the Trail of Due Diligence in recent weeks, making visits to Vanderbilt, Ohio State and Michigan in order to get a closer look at prospects.

Five weeks behind, remember? No days off. 

Patriots owner Robert Kraft is planning to meet with reporters on Monday so we'll have an opportunity to hear from him on a variety of topics when that comes to pass. 

Here are some of the other Patriots-related stories we'll be doing some digging on this week as we keep you updated with blog posts, occasional television hits, tweets (@PhilAPerry), Instagram shots (@PhilAPerry), and maybe even a podcast or two.

-- What does the rest of the league think when it sees the way the Patriots have attacked this offseason? How will the new pieces fit? Do other coaches and executives see it as Belichick going all in on 2017? Or is this just a case of a team adhering to its motto of doing "what's best for the football team" -- both in the short and long-term?

-- What's next for the Patriots? They're not done building the roster, so where might they turn next? Will they add other lower-level free agents? Will they be looking to trade back into the first and second rounds? Which positions seem to be of interest to them in the draft, and how might that signal the direction this roster is headed?

-- What is the feeling on the future at the quarterback position in New England? We know the Patriots aren't looking to give away Jimmy Garoppolo, but do people around the league really feel as though a haul of draft picks won't get the Patriots to think twice about trading him? Is it possible that in this rare scenario -- where the franchise quarterback is playing at an MVP-level but headed into his 40-year-old season -- people could see the Patriots paying two passers a starter's salary?

-- Will anything happen with Malcolm Butler before the meetings are out? Some have speculated that if his status as a restricted free agent (with an unsigned first-round tender) is to change anytime soon, it could happen here, where presumably his agent will be able to hear offers from one or more clubs in person. Will Butler find a team willing to give him an offer sheet and relinquish its first-round pick to the Patriots? Or will he sign his tender -- whether it's with the intent to play for the Patriots in 2017, or to be traded?

-- Rules changes are coming. We just don't know which ones. Will the linebacker leap (executed by Jamie Collins and Shea McClellin under Belichick) be eliminated? Will Stephen Gostkowski soon be looking to blast kickoffs through the uprights due to the passing of a rule that would place the ball at the 20 as opposed to the 25 for such a feat? Will real-time replay decisions suddenly shift from the officials on the field to the NFL offices at 345 Park Avenue? We'll let you know which proposals are held up, which fall flat, and how the Patriots might be impacted. Belichick and his staff did not submit any proposals for the second consecutive year.