Celtics could have Garnett for rematch with Magic


Celtics could have Garnett for rematch with Magic

By A. Sherrod Blakely

WALTHAM Once again, Boston and Orlando prepare to face each other well-positioned among the NBA's top teams.

Still, Monday night's game at TD Garden doesn't seem to have the same sizzle or build-up that we saw for their Christmas Day collision in Florida.

"It's just a regular-season game," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "There's history between us and all that stuff. You always want to win. The games don't literally have meaning, but guys get fired up for games like this. Or at least I hope they do."

Certainly the C's are looking for a nice boost of energy from the return of Kevin Garnett, who has missed the last nine games with a muscle strain in his lower right leg.

He was able to make it through Sunday's practice, which may be enough to convince Rivers to play him Monday night.

Garnett's return against the Magic - or any team for that matter - can only help the Celtics' cause.

"The game changes from a communication standpoint, to pick and roll . . . the game changes a lot," said guard Rajon Rondo. "He's definitely a low-post presence as well. We definitely miss him. I wanted him back a couple games ago, but he has to take care of his body and be conscious of the long run. The same thing he told me when I was down, just be smart and try to hold it down as much as possible until he gets back."

Rivers, in typical Rivers fashion, joked about how important Garnett is to the Celtics.

"Kevin's our . . . it's like losing your best defensive player, your best talker and your quarterback. Outside of that," quipped Rivers, "it's not that big a deal."

Garnett's return becomes even more important with another one of Boston's big men, Shaquille O'Neal, potentially out or limited.

He suffered an adductor strain in his right leg that kept him out of Sunday's practice.

Rivers said he'll also be a game-time decision.

The Celtics will need as many big bodies as possible against an Orlando team that was plus-six on the boards during the C's 86-78 Christmas Day loss.

While Boston had good reason to worry about the play of Orlando center Dwight Howard, it was the play of power forward Brandon Bass that gave the Celtics major problems.

Bass finished with 21 points and 9 rebounds.

In addition to Garnett, the C's will also look for a strong game from Glen Davis, who became the starter with Garnett sidelined.

As a starter, Davis' play was up and down.

But as a backup, the 6-foot-8 forward is one of the NBA's top sixth men.

"Each time we get a player back, it makes our bench better," Rivers said.

Bench play will be an important factor in Monday's game.

When the two met on Christmas, Orlando's bench outscored its Boston counterparts, 26-20.

As disappointing as the loss was, the C's were even more disturbed by how it came about.

Despite foul trouble for most of the game, the C's managed to get hot in the third quarter and pulled away for a six-point lead going into the fourth.

However, a jumper by Garnett with 3:21 to play would be the last basket made by the C's.

"We played horrible down the stretch," Rivers said. "That game down there, I don't think either team was proud of how they played. I thought both teams were proud of the way they competed. It was not played very well."

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

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

WALTHAM, Mass. – The right Achilles’ strain that has kept Avery Bradley out of five of the Celtics’ past six games, will continue to keep the 6-foot-2 guard sidelined.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Bradley will not play Saturday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Stevens added that no additional tests have been taken and the Achilles’ itself is structurally fine.
“He’s got a lot of soreness around it, and that’s one of those things you have to be ultra-careful with,” said Stevens, who later added that Bradley would not practice with the team today. “When he [Bradley] came back, he said he felt a lot better, and then he played and the next day he practiced. We didn’t do anything live but he did a lot of cutting and did not feel near as good. That’s why he didn’t play Wednesday.”
The absence of Bradley was clearly felt in a 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday, a game in which Knicks guard Derrick Rose – the man Bradley would have likely spent defending most of the game – scored 30 points.
This season, all-NBA first team defender is  the Celtics’ No. 2 scorer at 17 points per game along with averaging a team-best 6.9 rebounds.
In addition, Bradley is shooting a career-best 40.9 percent from 3-point range, as well as dishing out 2.4 assists per game, which also represents a career-high for the 26-year-old.


Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown still undecided on All-Star dunk contest

Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown still undecided on All-Star dunk contest

WALTHAM, Mass. – To dunk or not to dunk with the best in the NBA?
That is the question Celtics rookie forward Jaylen Brown is grappling with these days.
The 6-foot-7 Brown confirmed that he has been invited to be part of the league’s Slam Dunk competition at All-Star weekend, but hasn’t made up his mind as to whether he will participate.
Brown said he’ll likely make a decision about it sometime this weekend.
While he certainly understands that is indeed an honor for any player to be asked to participate in All-Star weekend, Brown said his trepidation about being part of the slam dunk competition has a lot to do with its potential impact on his body and how that may affect his ability to recharge over the weekend and get ready to finish out his rookie season strong.
If he decided to enter the contest, he would be facing some really stiff competition from last year’s winner Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando’s Aaron Gordon, whose battle last season put their slam dunk competition among the best ever.
Facing tough competition is not something that concerns Brown.
“I’m not worried about anybody or anything,” Brown said. “I think I have a lot to offer. Just like your rookie year, your body and everything … it’s a lot. All those dunks, they look cool but it takes a toll on your body for sure. I want to put myself in the best position to help the team.”
While his focus has been on the Celtics, Brown acknowledged he has been getting a few tips on the competition from teammate Gerald Green, who is also a former Slam Dunk champion.
“[Gerald] Green has been coaching me up, giving me a lot of good ideas I wouldn’t have thought on my own,” Brown said. “If I do decide to do it, it’ll be some stuff [nobody] has seen before.”