C's motivation won't be an issue against Heat

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C's motivation won't be an issue against Heat

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

MIAMI The Boston Celtics' Big Four share an NBA title from 2008, and came within a few minutes of a second championship last year.

The Celtics have won nearly 75 percent of the regular season games (233-92) played since Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett joined forces with Paul Pierce and an up-and-coming point guard, some guy named Rajon Rondo.

You don't have that kind of success without understanding how to perform in big games.

And Sunday's game against the Miami Heat?

They don't get much bigger than that for the Celtics before the playoffs.

Both teams share the No. 2 spot in the East with identical 55-24 records.

But the Celtics hold the tie-breaker because they swept the first three games of the regular season series. Because of that, the C's would get the higher seed if they finished in a tie.

Which brings us back to Sunday's game.

Knowing what's at stake, it's a given the Celtics would come out with great energy and focus.

But as we've come to find with this team, nothing should be taken for granted.

That's why Celtics head coach Doc Rivers isn't too keen on proclaiming that his team will be ready to play at a high enough level to win on Sunday.

"It does bother me because if we would have done our job, this would have been decided," Rivers said. "And that's what bothers me. Now, we've put ourselves in this position."

And only they can get themselves out of it.

To do so, Boston will have to continue its dominance of the Heat. Boston has won its last three road games against Miami, and seven of the last eight at America Airlines Arena.

But those games featured a different team.

And the stakes back then weren't nearly as high as they are now.

The Celtics players know that there have been times lately when their sense of urgency deserves to be questioned.

But they don't see that as an issue on Sunday.

"I expect everybody to be ready," said Boston's Allen. "A game like that I don't look over my shoulder, wondering if guys are going to be ready to play."

Pierce had similar thoughts on the C's approach to Sunday's nationally televised matchup.

"This is a big game for us," Pierce said. "That's what we are playing for, for the home court advantage. Not only for the first round, but hopefully we will see them in the second round. This is a big game for us when you are talking about seeds and trying to advance in the playoffs. It's huge."

And while the Celtics have shown a certain dominance over the Heat, even with all their highly regarded additions, there's no mistaking that the Miami Heat team they see on Sunday will come in with a playoff-like mentality.

"You are going to get an extremely hungry team in Miami for a lot of reasons," Rivers said. "We're going into a hornet's nest and we're going to have to deal with it."

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.”