Bradley has career night for Celtics

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Bradley has career night for Celtics

BOSTON The Boston Celtics got a big-game performance from someone besides the Big Four, as Avery Bradley had a career-high 23 points in Boston's 88-76 win over Washington.

A good chunk of his scoring this season has come on lay-ups cutting to the basket.

He got plenty of those against a porous Wizards defense.

But he also started to knock down mid-range jumpers and a 3-pointer, creating the kind of scene that could have easily resulted in a, 'I told ya so,' from head coach Doc Rivers.

"One of the things I've said consistently all year is that he can shoot the ball," Rivers said. "And he was making me a liar for most of the year. It was great to see them go in."

Bradley, who got the starting nod for Ray Allen (ankle) and is expected to fill in for Allen on Monday at Charlotte, is no stranger to the starting lineup.

He came into Sunday's game having had 10 starts this year, all in place of Rajon Rondo.

So the opportunity to play with Rondo instead of filling in for him, was clearly something that brought out the best in Bradley.

"Playing with Rondo is better for him," Rivers said. "He could just run out. He didn't have to wait for the ball, he didn't have to call a play, he didn't have to think where everybody was at; he just ran."

And in the process, he ran all over the hapless Wizards.

But as well as his numbers were, Washington coach Randy Wittman was clearly not impressed with the second-year guard's play.

"I could have scored those lay-ups," Wittman said. "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."

Not sure if the United States Postal Service could handle the enormous amount of post card thank-yous the Wizards would receive if every player who lit them up this season - and there have been a lot - took that approach.

It doesn't matter now, not with the Celtics (26-22) continuing their quest at claiming the Atlantic Division crown while the Washington Wizards continue to look more like the Washington Generals.

With the C's win coupled with a loss by Philadelphia to San Antonio, Boston now trails the Sixers (27-22) by half a game.

Boston's chances of moving up to the top spot can only be helped with performances like the one Bradley put on Sunday night.

Even though it was his scoring that garnered most of the post-game attention, Bradley insists his focus remains on getting the job done defensively.

"I was fortunate enough that my teammates could find me in transition," he said.

While that's true, Bradley also displayed the ability to score from the perimeter, something he has been reluctant to look for until recently.

"I think that it's just a confidence thing," Bradley said. "I'm feeling more confident out there. My teammates make me feel more confident, more comfortable, so then I am knocking down more shots."

You can add Paul Pierce to the growing list of Celtics excited about Bradley's big game, and look forward to seeing more big things from him in the future.

"It's just good to watch a guy like Avery mature right before your eyes over the last couple of years," Pierce said.

And that growth will go far in Boston making the kind of deep playoff run that they have come to expect annually.

"All the great teams and all the champions always have that player who can set up outside the stars and that's what makes a team, an even better team," Pierce said. "Each night we gotta have guys, and tonight it was Avery."

Grousbeck: Celtics want Thomas longterm, but would draft a point guard

Grousbeck: Celtics want Thomas longterm, but would draft a point guard

The Celtics didn’t know when they traded a late first-round pick and Marcus Thornton for Isaiah Thomas that they were getting their next star player, but that 2015 trade deadline move has proven to be a pleasant surprise. 

Appearing on Felger and Mazz Friday, Celtics CEO and co-owner Wyc Grousbeck said that he sees Thomas, who will be a free agent after next season, in the team’s longterm plans. 

“Every one of these seasons is different. It’s like a movie and you have a cast of characters and the cast changes a little bit every season,” Grousbeck said. “We’d love to have Isaiah here for a long, long time. He’s a phenomenal player and he loves being here.” 

The Celtics stand a strong chance of picking first overall in June’s draft since they own Brooklyn’s first-round pick. Asked whether Thomas’ status would prevent the team from taking a point guard (which the draft’s two prospects play), Grousbeck said the team doesn’t need to decide that now, but suggested it wouldn’t.

“Especially if it’s a very high pick in the draft, you’ve got to draft the best player,” Grousbeck said. “You probably wouldn’t draft for fit as much as just you see if there’s a transformational player that you can have for 10 or 15 years there. If you see a guy like that, you’ve got to make everything else work, I would think.” 

Grousbeck: C's two stars away, so giving up everything for one 'didn't make sense'

Grousbeck: C's two stars away, so giving up everything for one 'didn't make sense'

Celtics CEO and co-owner Wyc Grousbeck joined Felger and Mazz Friday, defending Danny Ainge’s inactively at Thursday’s trade deadline. 

Grousbeck’s thinking was that the team is two major pieces away from being a  championship-caliber club, and that giving up assets without filling those spots completely might have been harmful.

“I think it takes some strength and courage not to do anything when everybody’s howling to do something,” Grousbeck said. 

The Celtics were rumored to have had talks with the Bulls about Jimmy Butler and the Pacers about Paul George. Neither player ended up being traded. 

“We’re very comfortable with what happened,” Grousbeck said. “We offered a lot for a couple of guys, and we offered all that we were going to offer and it just wasn’t going to happen. Those guys weren’t going to be traded and they weren’t. It’s not problem. 

“We figure we’re probably two guys away from being a really, really good team; probably two significant guys away, and if we put all the chips in yesterday on one guy, we’re getting rid of draft pick -- or picks -- and we’re getting rid of free agency this summer, so it’s sort of like one step forward, two steps back. It just didn’t make sense.”