Celts prepare for a second shot at Miami

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Celts prepare for a second shot at Miami

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

MIAMI -- Since the Big Three of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett joined forces in 2007-08, they lost the first game of a playoff series four times prior to this.

While they're 2-2 in those playoffs series, the Celtics are a perfect 4-0 in Game 2s after losing the first game.

No need to remind Miami's LeBron James just how dangerous the Celtics are, even after losing Game 1.

Last season, James, then with Cleveland, led the Cavs to 101-93 Game 1 win in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Boston bounced back two nights later with a 104-86 thumping at Cleveland's Q Arena.

The Cavs regained home-court advantage with a Game 3 win in Boston, but the C's proceeded to reel off three consecutive wins to advance to the Eastern Conference finals.

"Im naturally confident, but you never get too high or too low in a playoff series," James told reporters after Miami's practice on Monday. "Its just one game. You gotta win four. We did what we wanted in Game 1, and now we gotta move on to Game 2."

Boston players were admittedly disappointed in the way Game 1 played out.

But there were no long faces or pouting among the players prior to Monday's practice at the University of Miami's campus in Coral Gables, Fla.

"For a visiting team, all you have to do is win one game and take home-court advantage," center Jermaine O'Neal told CSNNE.com. "We would have loved to get two. Now, we have to get one."

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra expressed similar sentiments of concern.

"There was no celebration after Game 1 because we know how dangerous the Celtics are," Spoelstra said. "Especially in a situation like this where they're down one game. They've shown so many times that they can steal one if you're not ready."

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

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.