Celtics-Hawks review: Bradley's effort sparks Celtics

974663.jpg

Celtics-Hawks review: Bradley's effort sparks Celtics

ATLANTA Avery Bradley like most of his Boston Celtics teammates, didn't come out playing well to start the game.

"That first half, I didn't have any energy," he told CSNNE.com. "But I came at halftime and told myself, I have to find that energy somewhere and that's what I did; I played as hard as I could."

And Bradley's effort is indeed becoming contagious with his Celtics teammates stepping up their play defensively as well in the second half as Boston rallied for an 89-81 win over Atlanta.

Bradley had six points and four rebounds, but numbers do little justice when it comes to explaining the impact he has made on the C's in just his second game back.

His ability to pick up ball-handlers the full length of the court has a tendency to wear down opponents, evident by Atlanta's guards turning the ball over six times in the second half after not committing a single turnover in the first half.

"I just wanted to give everything I could give. That's what I did," Bradley said.

For all that went right for the C's in the second half, Celtics coach Doc Rivers pointed out that the play of his perimeter players defensively was instrumental.

"We pressured the ball with our two guards (Bradley and Rajon Rondo) and that made a huge difference," Rivers said.

Here are some other keys highlighted prior to the game, and how they actually played out as the Celtics (16-17) string together back-to-back wins for the first time in nearly a month (Dec. 8 and Dec. 12).

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: A big part of Boston's success against the Pacers on Friday was their ability to hold their own on the boards. In fact, Boston was plus-2 on the boards which is a major coup for them. They will look to be just as good or better tonight.

WHAT WE SAW: The Celtics pulled off a rare feat in out-rebounding an opponent two games in a row. Boston was plus-8 (44-36) on the boards against the Hawks who have also had their struggles on the board. Like Boston, the league's worst rebounding team, Atlanta is also ranked in the bottom 10 (No. 24) with 49 rebounds per game.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett vs Al Horford: Both have the ability to score around the basket as well as facing the basket. But Horford's experience and youthfulness give him a slight edge over the future Hall of Famer.

WHAT WE SAW: Garnett was an efficient scorer (14 points, 7-for-12 shooting) who did a much better job on the boards than his five rebounds would indicated. Meanwhile, Horford's impact was never felt offensively (6 points, 2-for-8 shooting) and his nine rebounds didn't do much to help the Hawks' efforts, either.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Jason Terry could use a stretch of consistent play which isn't coming anytime soon for the Celtics. Against the Pacers, he missed six of his eight shots from the field and finished with six points.

WHAT WE SAW: Terry had another less-than-stellar night shooting the ball, scoring four points on 2-for-8 shooting despite the Celtics making an effort to free him up for shots. Still, he was part of a perimeter defensive unit that stymied the Atlanta guards in the second half.

STAT TO TRACK: Boston should capitalize on an Atlanta team that sends opposing teams to the free throw line - a lot. Hawks opponents are averaging 14.5 free throws made and 18.4 free throw attempts - both league highs.

WHAT WE SAW: Free throw shooting was never a factor in tonight's outcome, although the Celtics know they have to do better than 8-for-12 from the line.

Report: Celtics not one of the teams trying to acquire Cousins

Report: Celtics not one of the teams trying to acquire Cousins

The Sacramento Kings are "fully engaged" in DeMarcus Cousins trade discussions, but it appears the Boston Celtics are not in the running for the All-Star center.

According to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, the Celtics are not one of the teams talking to the Kings about Cousins.

More to come. . . 

 

Davis' 52 points breaks Chamberlain's All-Star record, West beats East, 192-182

all-star_game_anthony_davis_021917.jpg

Davis' 52 points breaks Chamberlain's All-Star record, West beats East, 192-182

NEW ORLEANS – The stars were everywhere, on and off the court during the 66th annual NBA All-Star game.

There were lots of hugs, handshakes and goody-good vibes shared by all.

And then … the fourth quarter arrived.

It’s the only time of the game when the All-Star game actually looks like a game and not an open gym full of the best players on the planet.

And as we’ve seen this season, no one is better in the fourth quarter than Boston’s Isaiah Thomas.

True to form, Thomas saw a playing time in the fourth quarter.

But his scoring prowess wasn’t enough with the Western Conference emerging with a 192-182 win.  It is the sixth time in the last seven All-Star games that the West has come away with the victory.

Thomas had 20 points on 7-for-15 shooting and 4-for-10 from 3-point range.

That’s not a bad performance, but there were others who were a lot more prolific shooting the ball.

Kevin Durant, playing in his first All-Star game as a member of the Golden State Warriors, had a triple-double of 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, MVP each of the previous two All-Star games, finished with 41 points – one shy of tying the most points scored in an All-Star game.

Despite Westbrook’s monster game, the record wound up being shattered by New Orleans’ Anthony Davis who had 52 points which broke Wilt Chamberlain’s All-Star game record of 42 points set in 1962.

Shooting 26 for 39 from the field, Davis also grabbed 10 rebounds.

One of the more interesting stretches came in the first half between Thomas and Westbrook.

Westbrook grabbed an offensive rebound, saw that he was being guarded by Thomas and snarled at him moments before banking in a 3-pointer.

Thomas wasn’t about to be showed up by his fellow All-Star.

On the ensuing possession, he came right back and hit a long range 3-pointer in Russell’s mug. Westbrook came back with a 3-pointer that was off the mark followed by a Thomas miss.

That sequence was about as close as we came to seeming some semblance of defense played by either team, with lay-ups, and wide open dunks reigning supreme all night.

The much-talked about “reunion” between Durant and Westbrook was very civil, one that included the two connecting on a give-and-go in the first half that ended with a Westbrook basket.

Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo gave the crowd better dunks in the All-Star game than the actual slam dunk contest, finishing with 30 points on 14-of-17 with 12 dunks.