Doc on Bradley: 'He was terrific'

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Doc on Bradley: 'He was terrific'

BOSTON -- When Avery Bradley stepped into the starting lineup for an injured Ray Allen, questions buzzed as to whether or not Allen should be moved to the bench upon his return.

The Celtics were undefeated in the five games in which Bradley got the nod and the young guard gave them a fresh breath of athleticism and defensive intensity.

So who would help the Celtics more in the starting lineup?

During Allens return on Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs, Bradley showed he doesnt have to start to be effective. He also demonstrated how challenging the Celtics second unit can be with a starting-caliber player coming off the bench.

It doesnt matter where I come, whether I start or come off the bench or if I dont play, he said following the Spurs 87-86 win. However I can help my team, just coming in and bringing that energy, thats what Im going to do.

Bradley checked in with 3:34 left in the first quarter and finished the night with a game-high 19 points (9-16 FG) in 34 minutes off the bench. He played more minutes than starters Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass, staying on the court while the Celtics fought back with a smaller guard-centric lineup.

Allen scored five points (2-6 FG), including a key three late in the game, in 35 minutes.

The last five games have built up the confidence of the humble 21-year-old guard who was so nervous as a rookie last season that he hoped he would not be called on to participate in practice.

I understand what Doc wants from me, Bradley said. You dont try to do too much or too little. You just know what they expect and I feel a lot more confident playing my game... I know how to pick my shots, when to shoot, when not to, being aggressive, when not to be. Thats what I try to do.

Celtics head coach Doc Rivers has taken notice of Bradleys application of his advice.

Its what I tried to tell you guys before -- starter or not, hes going to play the same, said Rivers. And he was terrific.

Spurs head coach Greg Popovich also had praise for Bradley, in a different kind of delivery.

Hes a pain in the ass, said Popovich. The game starts and you know what hes going to do. Hes going to cut from the corner to the bucket and lay it in. Hes going to cut diagonally from the top. You know it and you go play... Youve got to give him credit. He knows his role and he does it very, very well. He killed us all night long.

There is the possibility Bradley could return to the starting lineup if Rivers decides to rest his veterans toward the end of the regular season in preparation for the playoffs. Or, Rivers could simply decide to alter the starting lineup. Whatever the role Bradley will be given, he will approach it with the same energy level either way.

After his recent performances, his teammates have come to expect it.

Hes been playing like that the last six or seven games, said Rajon Rondo. So its kind of what were expecting of him. Hes playing big for us and thats what we need him to do.

Rask out of Bruins' must-win game vs. Islanders with 'lower body injury'

Rask out of Bruins' must-win game vs. Islanders with 'lower body injury'

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – In another body blow to the playoff chances for the Bruins, Tuukka Rask will be out tonight with what the B’s are calling a “lower body injury”  for their must-win game against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center.

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said that Rask came to the Bruins practice facility on Friday and got treatment on his lower body, but determined “he wouldn’t able to go” in Boston’s biggest game so far this season. Instead, backup Anton Khudobin will get the nod against the Isles. His last start was 10 days ago against the Calgary Flames, but he's a goalie who's also riding a four-game winning streak headed into a mega-important game for the Black and Gold, who have lost four in a row to damage their playoff hopes.

“He came in [on Friday] with some discomfort in the lower body, so he had some work done and didn’t feel like he’d be ready to go today,” said Cassidy of Rask after the Saturday morning skate in Brooklyn. “We had talked about getting Anton [Khudobin] in any way, and that was part of it. Those plans are always subject to change.

“So there’s no real surprise in that area, but we’re monitoring it really closely. We expect that he’ll be able to practice on Monday.”

There was no sign of injury for Rask in the 6-3 loss to Tampa Bay on Thurday night, in which he gave up five goals and looked shaky in the second and third period. Cassidy confirmed that Rask's equipment issue with his skate in the Lightning game had nothing to do with the injury. Rask was soft-voiced and trailed off in a couple of his answers while taking his share of responsibility following the Tampa loss and certainly seemed uncharacteristically downcast after that particular defeat.  

Rask’s surprise absence has a lot of parallels and a bit of the same feeling to the Bruins goaltender also being unable to play in last year’s regular season do-or-die finale where the Bruins dropped a brutal, pathetic 6-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators to knock them out of the playoff race.

One always wants to give a player the benefit of the doubt when an injury is involved, but one can’t escape the feeling that Boston’s No. 1 goalie should be able to play on Saturday in a must-win game, with so much on the line, if he’s expected to be healthy enough to practice a couple of days from now.

The Islanders and Bruins each have 82 points but the Bruins sit out of the playoff picture, in the ninth spot in the NHL's Eastern Conference, heading into tonight's showdown. 

Rookie Zane McIntyre has been called up on emergency recall to serve as Khudobin's backup vs. the Islanders. 


 

Knicks' Noah suspended 20 games by NBA for drug policy violation

Knicks' Noah suspended 20 games by NBA for drug policy violation

NEW YORK - Joakim Noah of the New York Knicks has been suspended 20 games without pay for violating the league’s anti-drug policy.

The NBA announced the suspension Saturday, saying Noah tested positive for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator LGD-4033 – something that can be found in over-the-counter supplements.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports first reported the suspension.

Noah has not played since Feb. 4 and was likely to miss the Knicks’ final 10 games this season because of a knee injury. The NBA said Noah’s suspension will begin with the ”first NBA regular season or playoff game for which he is eligible and physically able to play.”

Noah is in the first year of a four-year, $72 million contract. He and the Knicks (27-45) have been a disappointment this season. He averaged 5.0 points and 8.7 rebounds in 46 games this season, and has been limited to 75 games over the past two seasons.