Bucks' Michael Redd works toward a return

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Bucks' Michael Redd works toward a return

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The sweat is pouring off the forehead of Milwaukee Bucks guard Michael Redd like a leaky faucet . . . and he couldn't be any happier.

Missing 103 games (and counting) plus the playoffs a year ago will make any NBA player -- especially a former All-star -- eager to get back on the floor.

And when he returns, Redd is eager to show that the high-scoring shooting guard that used to be the face of the Fear the Deer movement is back which, truth be told, was very much in doubt.

Shortly after surgery to repair a second torn ACL and MCL injury to his left knee just a year apart from each other, Redd had a bunch of questions for the attending physicians.

There was just one that truly mattered.

"I asked them, 'Would I be able to come back and play my game?' " Redd recalled to CSNNE.com prior to Boston's 87-56 win over Milwaukee on Sunday. "That was a determining factor for me. If I wasn't going to be able to play my game, I don't know if I would have come back. The doctor said you should be able to do everything you did before the injury."

The first chance of that happening will be later this month.

Redd told CSNNE.com he's targeting March 20 against the New York Knicks or March 23 against the Sacramento Kings -- both home games for Milwaukee -- to make his return to the court.

The fact that Redd is even thinking about playing basketball still is amazing when you consider he has suffered a torn ACL and MCL injury in his left knee twice.

"I've had one torn ACL injury," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "That's all you need. You don't need more than one in your lifetime."

After the first one in 2009, Redd simply chalked it up as being one of those things.

But to suffer a second torn ACL and MCL injury a year later, had him asking a lot of questions that, truth be told, there are no answers forthcoming.

"The question did cross my mind, 'Why me?' " Redd said. "I worked so hard."

During those grueling rehabilitation sessions, Redd said one of the people that reached out to him was Grant Hill.

The two talked about Hill's struggles in Orlando with injuries that essentially kept Hill off the floor for three seasons, and how Hill turned that setback into the launching pad for what has been a solid NBA career since.

"I believe I'm going to help some young person whose dealing with injuries, come back," Redd said.

Returning to the basketball court would make Redd's story a successful one in itself.

But his goals are so much greater than that.

A former second round pick in the 2000 draft, Redd is a career 20.3 points per game scorer and a former All-Star (2004).

With Andrew Bogut established at center and Brandon Jennings emerging as one of the better point guards in the Eastern Conference, Redd returning to near All-Star form would bode well for the Bucks' chances of finishing the season strong and getting into the playoffs.

But Redd is smart enough to know that he's not going to immediately return and play at the same level he did prior to the second left knee injury.

"You gotta get a rhythm," he said. "Hopefully I can find my rhythm quicker than normal. I'm just glad to be back. But the goal for me is not to just come back and play, but to be an elite player once again; back to where I was."

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

First Celtics practice 'a little different' but 'feels right' for Horford

First Celtics practice 'a little different' but 'feels right' for Horford

WALTHAM, Mass. – NBA players are creatures of habit so you can understand why Al Horford was just a little bit out of his element on his first practice with the Boston Celtics.
 
After nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, Horford hit the free agent market this summer and signed a four-year, $113 million with the Celtics.
 
Horford acknowledged that his first practice with the Celtics “was a little different” but added, “It’s definitely a weird feeling, but it feels right to be here.”

Players, coaches, national pundits, the list is seemingly endless when it comes to folks who believe Horford is an ideal fit with the Boston Celtics.
 
“He can do score in the paint, shoot 3s, defend, pass, he can do it all out there,” Amir Johnson told CSNNE.com. “He’s going to fit in well with us.”
 
But like any rookie or newcomer to a team, Horford admitted he had some moments when he was a step or two late getting to where he needed to be on the floor.
 
“We’re running through a lot of plays, a lot of concepts being thrown out,” Horford said. “It’s a matter of getting comfortable with all the sets.”
 
As much as he will work to figure things out, Horford is wise enough to know he’ll need the help of his new teammates, too.
 
“I’m going to lean on a lot of the guys,” Horford said. “I’ll definitely ask a lot of questions. Avery (Bradley) already has gotten in my ear, anything I need he’s there for me. I just want to get acclimated as fast as I can.”
 
Horford also said that head coach Brad Stevens has been extremely helpful in assisting him in speeding up his learning curve.
 
“Coach (Stevens) is very sharp, very . . .  he explains things well,” Horford said. “He explains things well. He wants practice to move along. The pace of practice, definitely a faster pace.”
 
But you won’t find Horford complaining.
 
Horford is clearly excited about starting this new chapter in his basketball career.
 
“For me it’s more of a relief, finally being here in Boston, house, being settled,” Horford said. “Now we can just focus on the season.”

Brown knows there's a lot he can learn from Celtics teammates

Brown knows there's a lot he can learn from Celtics teammates

WALTHAM, Mass. – It was the first official day of Jaylen Brown’s NBA education.

So like most youngsters on the first day of school, he wanted to make a favorable impression.

Showing up three-plus hours early? Yup. That’ll help. But punctuality will only take you so far.

As eager as he is to play, Brown is well aware that much of what he’ll be doing the first few days will be centered around learning.

“It’s a lot of stuff I have to learn,” Brown admitted in an interview with CSNNE.com. “We have a lot of experience on the floor. I want to be a sponge to these older guys as long as I am here. And keep adapting, keep growing every day in practice and get better.”

Having a steady thirst for improvement is an essential for any player coming into the NBA, but especially for a 19-year-old like Brown.

Avery Bradley was the 19th overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft and like Brown, he was just 19 years old coming into the league.

When I asked him what he wishes he knew as a rookie that he eventually learned over time, Bradley was succinct with his answer.

“Confidence,” he told CSNNE.com. “Just having more confidence. I wish I had more confidence in myself.”

Of course if you recall, Bradley spent his rookie season coming off the bench behind Ray Allen, one of the best shooting guards of his era who will someday wind up in the Naismith Hall of Fame.

There were others Bradley had to outperform just to get a shot at playing behind Ray Allen.

“There was Ray Allen, and Delonte West and Von Wafer,” said Bradley who added, “I was behind everybody and then we got Nate Robinson too.”

While the depth chart isn’t quite that deep for Brown, there’s no question he will have to hold his own and probably outplay a couple bodies in order to get a steady diet of playing time as a rookie.

“I love challenges,” Brown said. “This game is a beautiful game. I have a lot of people to compete and challenge me every day.  It’s exciting. I’m looking forward to the challenge and looking forward to coming out on top.”

Celtics forward/center Amir Johnson was 18 years old when the Detroit Pistons selected him straight out of high school in the second round of the 2005 NBA draft.

Johnson said he has been impressed with what he has seen from Brown the past couple of weeks during pick-up games and workouts.

And while it helps to have veterans around, Brown’s growth in this league will ultimately come down to how much he’s willing to listen and learn.

“If you’re a teen that wants to work and listen, sit back and be quiet,” Johnson told CSNNE.com. “I was that teen willing to listen and learn, willing to do whatever anybody told me to do. I listened to my veterans and my coaches, come in the gym early and stay late. I had a lot of help to get where I’m at today.”

That said, Brown will still have his naysayers who will focus on his youth, inexperience along with Boston’s depth as reasons for him to not do much early on his career.

Bradley knows a thing or two about that.

In Bradley’s second year with the Celtics he was in the starting lineup ahead of Allen which was one of many roles Bradley has been able to play surprisingly better than anticipated.

Bradley recalls how opposing players often think he is either shorter or doesn’t have as long a wingspan as they would expect.

“That plays to my advantage,” he said. “Everybody thinks I’m short or I’m not long. People are going to say the same thing about Jaylen. A lot of people think he can’t do this, can’t do that. That’s the part about this game I love; you can surprise people and that’s what I think he’s going to do.”