BOSTON Atlanta's Joe Johnson has a four-inch height advantage over Boston's 6-2 guard Avery Bradley in a matchup that Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers acknowledges he's not crazy about.
In fact, the Cs gave some thought to making a lineup change to better match up with Johnson, who came into this series as the Hawks' leading scorer in the regular season.
But Rivers ultimately decided to stick with Bradley, who has started all five playoff games in addition to 28 regular season games.
Bradley has been a huge part of the Celtics' resurgence after the all-star break, displaying the kind of on-the-ball-pressure that established him as one of the league's up-and-coming defenders.
In addition, the C's have seen his offensive game evolve to the point where teams can no longer lay off him the way they at times treat his backcourt mate, Rajon Rondo.
But in the midst of his improved play, Bradley has been battling a left shoulder injury which has become more troublesome as the C's get deeper into the playoffs. Team officials described it as a sore rotator cuff injury that Bradley admits is still sore and at times uncomfortable.
But the prospect of replacing Bradley with someone like Sasha Pavlovic, Mickael Pietrus or one of the C's bigger perimeter defenders is tempting.
However, the Celtics don't want to do anything to potential stunt Bradley's impressive growth this season - like benching him in the playoffs.
"We thought about it," Rivers acknowledged. "Avery's a young kid and even if we have to make a move early, we'd rather do that then take him out of the lineup."
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while simply shaking my head at David Price. What a typically soft, boorish ballplayer not meant for a big market where more is expected of those wearing the Red Sox uniform.
*There are tempered expectations for rookie defenseman Mikhail Sergachev as he gets things going with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
*Keith Yandle believes that Dale Tallon being back in charge of the Florida Panthers is going to bring unity and solidarity to the Panthers once again.
*Kevin Shattenkirk believes that the New York Rangers are right on the cusp of challenging for a Stanley Cup title.
*Here 20 thoughts from the just-concluded Chicago Blackhawks prospect camp, where there’s some pretty strong, young talent.
*Even as the highest-paid player in the NHL, Connor McDavid is underpaid for what he brings to the table, says Ron MacLean.
*Interesting look at the Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog situation in Colorado, where both players have watched their performance fall off a bit. This is why I’d be very nervous about giving up the farm to trade for either of these players if I’m the Bruins. The jury is out on whether they’re in decline as players, or if it’s simply the mess in Colorado getting them down.
*For something completely different: What a sweet interaction between "Wonder Woman" Gal Gadot and a young, emotional fan all decked out in WW gear.
Celtics fans aren’t the only ones thinking of ways Kyrie Irving could end up in Boston.
Even though it would be hard to imagine last season’s No. 2 seed in the East trading one of the best players in the league to last season’s No. 1 seed in the East, ESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote Monday that the Celtics have indeed called the Cavs about the 25-year-old point guard.
Most teams, including the asset-rich Celtics, have placed the obligatory call letting Cleveland know they would like to be kept in the loop, sources say. Boston could offer Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and one of their golden picks -- Brooklyn's pick next season, or the Lakers/Kings pick they got from Philly in the Markelle Fultz deal. It's unclear if they would dangle all of that, but those picks could represent the young stud Cleveland needs. Regardless, a deal between the East's two best teams seems unlikely.
While nobody’s counting on Irving joining the Celtics, a trade of Irving elsewhere could still swing the balance in the East in Boston’s favor depending on what Cleveland gets back. Irving reportedly requested a trade from Cleveland earlier this month.