Bradley takes on idol, friend in Indiana's Ford

191544.jpg

Bradley takes on idol, friend in Indiana's Ford

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

BOSTON - A locker room attendant delivered a request to Avery Bradley following the Celtics win against the Pacers on Sunday.

T.J. Ford needed soap.

Under any other circumstances, Bradley would have been more than happy to lend him some suds.

But not this time. As they sat in opposing locker rooms, Bradleys childhood idol had become his competition.

I didnt give it to him, Bradley smiled and laughed. I cant do that for him now.

Bradley began watching the University of Texas mens basketball team when his family moved from Washington to Texas. Ford was a standout point guard for the Longhorns, and a young Bradley was hooked.

I just always looked up to him, Bradley told CSNNE.com. He was my favorite player then and its just crazy that Im playing against him now in the NBA.

Bradley and Ford were introduced through Bradleys AAU coach while he was still in high school. Ford was the first NBA player Bradley had ever met, and the nerves were overwhelming. In fact, Bradley was more nervous simply meeting Ford than he was playing against him for the first time in the NBA on Sunday.

The two kept in touch as Bradley followed in Fords footsteps and also played basketball for the Longhorns. Ford, who is seven years older than Bradley, embraced the role of mentor.

We have a good relationship and its continued to grow, Ford told CSNNE.com. Its been going on about three years. Hes a quiet kid, hes very soft-spoken, takes him a while to open up. But I think hes a very well-respected kid. He has great manners and I think hes going to be successful in this league.

Ford followed Bradleys collegiate career as he averaged nearly 12 points and 2 assists per game in his freshman (and only) season at Texas. Even though Bradley impressed the Celtics and was selected with the 19th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, Ford believed there was more talent to be seen.

Even at the University of Texas, you had flashes but he really didnt show all the talent that he really has and he wasnt able to put it together like everybody anticipated, said Ford. So I think he has a bright future and Im looking forward to see him get his opportunity.

Bradley, 20, has had to wait for his opportunity as a member of a veteran team. After rehabbing from ankle injuries, he has played a total of 38 minutes in seven games. Even in the absence of Rajon Rondo (ankle), Bradley understands he still has a ways to go in his rookie season.

Ford has been there to give him support during the learning process. One of his biggest points of emphasis to Bradley is understanding that the hard work he puts in now will pay off in the long run.

He usually always texts me after every game and tries to motivate me because he knows that I dont play that much being on the Celtics, said Bradley. He just tells me to learn as much as I can. He always says the same thing, like, I know that youre not playing that much, just learn as much as you can. You have a great team. Everything he says has something to do with that.

On Sunday, Bradley got the chance to put that advice to use when he faced off against Ford himself. The two started the second quarter at opposing point guard positions. Bradley looked ready against Ford early on, getting back on defense and attempting a shot over his mentor. But Ford, who said he planned to use some veteran moves, tossed an over-the-back pass by Bradley to Mike Dunleavy for a three-pointer.

By the end of the game the edge went to Ford, who scored 13 points (6-11 FG) in 18 minutes. Bradley was scoreless (including a missed free throw on a Ford foul) in over five minutes.

Even though Ford had the advantage over Bradley, he thinks this is just the beginning for the rookie.

Any time you can defend in this league, you can stick around a long time, Ford said. He was the number one player in high school at one point, so you take all those things into consideration and just know that with playing and building up his confidence, hes going to be a special kid.

Bradley will continue to soak up Fords advice as he plays his first year in the NBA, and Ford will continue to share his knowledge. He flashes a smile from ear-to-ear as he talks about Bradleys admiration and points out that he reads every article written on his mentee.

Hes a real big fan -- we talk about it all the time, said Ford. It means a lot to me, and its my job to help these kids at the same time so another kid can come around and say that he wants to be like Avery.

And when that happens, Bradley will know better than to ask him for soap.

Follow Jessica Camerato on Twitter at http:www.twitter.comjcameratonba

WATCH: Celtics vs. Magic

WATCH: Celtics vs. Magic

Tune into CSN to watch the Celtics play the Magic in Orlando. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by McDonald's on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game Preview: Magic's poor offense gives C's chance to rebound

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

[SHOP: Gear up, Celtics fans!]

- Live Extra FAQ: All your questions answered

- Latest on the Celtics: All of the most recent news and notes

- Talk about the game via social media on CSN's Pulse, presented by Ford

Celtics-Magic preview: Orlando's poor offense gives C's chance to bounce back

celtics_jae_crowder_120516.jpg

Celtics-Magic preview: Orlando's poor offense gives C's chance to bounce back

Talk about your basketball extremes.

After losing a 107-106 heartbreaker to Houston and their high-powered offense on Monday, the Boston Celtics will be in for a very different -- and less successful -- foe tonight in the Orlando Magic.

The Magic beat Washington 124-116 on Tuesday night despite John Wall’s 52-point effort, but have been one of the NBA’s most offensively challenged teams this season.

Orlando ranks near the bottom in scoring (29th, 94.6 points per game), field goal percentage (28th, .426) and Pace (24th, 96.71) this season.

But Frank Vogel’s crew has been a defensive force thus far in the East even if their record might suggest otherwise.

They rank among the league’s best in several defensive categories such as scoring defense (4th, 98.0 points per game allowed); opponent 3-point percentage (3rd, 33.0 percent), opponent 3-point attempts (4th, 23.6) in addition to allowing a league-low 8.0 made 3's per game.

That will be a stark contrast from the let-it-fly-all-night style Boston had to contend with against the high-scoring Rockets on Monday.

But this set of games is exactly why Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge made of point of trying to put together a roster that was heavy on athleticism and versatility both in the frontcourt as well as on the perimeter.

Against Houston, Tyler Zeller recorded his first DNP-CD (Did not play -- coaches decision) of the season which made sense considering Houston basically plays void of a traditional center.

Orlando, that’s a different story.

Serge Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo and Nikola Vucevic now coming off the bench form a physical triumvirate of big men that can cause lots of problems for a Celtics team that will look to attack the paint often.

When it comes to scoring in the restricted area, the Magic allow opponents to shoot 57.6 percent which ranks seventh in the league. They rank highly when it comes to defending mid-range shots (5-10th, 38.3 percent), corner 3's (6th, 34.5 percent) and above-the-break 3's (8th, 33.8 percent) as well.

And while they have had their issues offensively this season, their recent run of success has been in part aided by a much-improved offensive showing. In their last five games, they are shooting 48.5 percent from the field which ranks fifth in the NBA in that span. For the season, the Magic rank 28th while connecting on 42.6 percent of their shots.

Orlando’s improved shooting with a defense that’s stingy as ever, will make this a tough game for Boston to come away with a victory.

Just as the Magic seek to continue their successful ways, the Celtics come into this game with something to prove as well.

While the missed lay-ups by Al Horford and Isaiah Thomas in the final minute of Monday’s 107-106 loss certainly were factors in the game’s outcome, there were a series of miscommunications earlier in the quarter that fueled Houston’s late surge.

Following the game, Isaiah Thomas pointed out how he called out a play that Jonas Jerebko interpreted as another play the Celtics called.

The miscommunication led to a turnover and subsequent lay-up which in hindsight looms huge considering the margin of victory was just one point.

“The two play calls sound alike,” Thomas told reporters afterwards. “In the heat of battle, I have to do a better job of making sure everybody knows what play we’re running. He (Jerebko) handed the ball back to me when the play wasn’t to hand the ball back to me. That was one of the turnovers that was the key.

Thomas added, “It’s not his fault. As a group, as a point guard, I have to do a better job of letting my guys know what play we’re running. Those little things, especially on the road, those make you lose games. But that wasn’t the play that made us lose. I’m not putting this on Jonas at all.”

Indeed, this team’s success as well as their struggles are the collective efforts of all their core players, Thomas included.

And for them to get back on track, it won’t be one or two players that will make it happen.

It’ll be a team effort, the kind that will allow Boston to find success against different teams no matter how extremely different their styles of play may be.