Celtics keyed in on Chris Bosh

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Celtics keyed in on Chris Bosh

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

WALTHAM Sometime over the course of this season, Miamis Big 3 morphed into the Big 2. Sure, they were still the Big 3 by name, but it became obvious to everyone in the league that Chris Bosh just wasnt at the same level as his more accomplished superstar teammates.

As the Heat struggled out of the gate, Bosh suffered publicly for his inability to live up to those lofty expectations, until at one point, everyone just stopped expecting him to be LeBron or Wade. The bar was lowered. And Chris Bosh was just allowed to be Chris Bosh.

Now, according to the Celtics, the other one might be the key to this second-round series.

Hes one of the key guys, Doc Rivers said. LeBron and Wade are LeBron and Wade. They were great before the series. Theyre going to be great after the series. LeBron and Wade are great players.

But when Bosh plays great then their team is great. He stretches the floor and theyve done a better job in the second half of getting him more involved. Hes part of their offense now. When hes played well, theyve won. When hes struggled theyve lost. Hes such a tough guy to guard.

Wade echoed similar sentiments about Bosh to reporters following the Heat's practice on Friday.

"He is an X-factor," Wade said. "A lot of our key wins, he's been a huge part of it."

Kevin Garnetts the guy whose responsibility it is to guard Bosh.

First off just knowing he can score in different ways, you just like to keep a couple different options away from him, Garnett said. I think for Baby and myself and all the guys who played Amare Stoudemire in the first round, it was sort of a good series to warm us up for (Boshs) play. He can score in different ways and they get the ball to him, so we have our work cut out for us.

When Bosh plays well, they blow teams out. Its not even close.

Rich Levine can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33.

Bradley locked in during return to Celtics lineup vs. Hornets

Bradley locked in during return to Celtics lineup vs. Hornets

BOSTON – When you look at Avery Bradley’s growth this season, seeing the tremendous strides he has made offensively is clear.

But at the heart of Bradley’s game remains a desire to dominate a matchup as a defender, something that was alive and well on Monday as he made his return to the floor after missing the four previous games with an Achilles strain.

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Bradley’s defense would prove instrumental in Boston’s 108-98 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday.

He was 2-for-9 from the field and played nearly 33 minutes against Hornets which is just a couple minutes under his season average of court time.

Usually he’s responsible for providing a boost at both ends of the floor.

But considering his long lay-off, it was clear early on that he was locked in defensively more so than looking to get back on track shooting the ball.

“You take any type of games off in this league, your rhythm and all that you gotta get it back,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder.

Even though his shots weren’t falling, Bradley was on top of his game defensively while guarding 6-foot-8 Nicolas Batum who is six inches taller but never was a factor on Monday.

Batum finished with eight points on 2-for-11 shooting from the field.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens liked what he got out of Bradley in his return to action.

“I thought he (Bradley) was great,” Stevens told CSNNE.com. “He did everything we needed him to do. We knew there would be a little bit of rust (shooting the ball), but that’s part of you playing your way back into it.”

As far as Bradley’s stifling defense on Batum, Stevens said, “You have to do that against Batum. I thought Avery did a really good job of that. It’s a hard matchup no matter what way you go. Batum, giving up inches to him. He (Bradley) was there on the catch all night.”

And as Bradley gradually gets back into a flow, he’ll regain the form offensively that made him one of the NBA’s better two-way players this season.