Rivers moves up the ranks of Celtics coaches

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Rivers moves up the ranks of Celtics coaches

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON We often talk about the milestones reached by Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, as well as a host of Boston Celtics veterans.

Well, their head coach, Doc Rivers, is in some pretty rare company these days.

With Wednesday's 119-95 win over the Sacramento Kings, Rivers passed K.C. Jones on the Celtics' all-time coaching win list. He now has 309 victories.

Rivers trails Comcast SportsNet analyst Tommy Heinsohn (427) and Celtics great Red Auerbach (910).

Rivers acknowledged he hadn't given the achievement much thought until asked about it following Wednesday's victory.

"I don't know what it means, honestly," Rivers said when asked about being the third-winningest coach in franchise history. "I just don't know what it means yet, because I'm not thinking about it much; I'm not done. But it's nice."

Rivers has the Celtics once again in the hunt for an NBA title with a 29-9 record.

But Rivers, in his seventh season as the C's coach, knows all too well who to credit with his long run in Boston.

"It's Danny Ainge at the end of the day," said Rivers, referring to the Celtics' president of basketball operations.

After finishing first in the Atlantic Division in his first season with the Celtics in 2005, the team got progressively worse record-wise the following two seasons before bottoming out at 24-58 during 2006-07.

There were many who wanted Rivers out.

But Ainge wasn't one of them.

"We were bad for two years and he stuck with me," Rivers said. "And Ainge believed in me."

Following the 2006-07 season, the Celtics made a draft-day trade for Ray Allen. A couple months later, they traded for Kevin Garnett.

From there, the C's have maintained a spot among the NBA's elite that already earned them an NBA title in 2008.

So as much as Rivers will get the praise and credit for winning more games than all but two coaches in franchise history, he understands how fortunate he was to be given an opportunity to do so with one of the most storied franchises in NBA history.

"At the end of the day," Rivers said, "it's Danny Ainge more than me."

As far as making a run at the top spot, Rivers has given that some thought.

"That ain't gonna happen," he said. "I can guarantee you that!"

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.