Trust equaling wins for Celtics

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Trust equaling wins for Celtics

BOSTON After spending part of the preseason overseas and gathering for pick-up games in California this past summer, the foundation was set for this Boston Celtics team to be a close-knit group.

It's one thing to hang out and get to know someone and learn to like them as a person.

It's a completely different matter transforming that bond into trust on the basketball court.

And for all that has gone the Celtics' way of late, the emergence of their trust in one another - at both ends of the floor - is quite apparent.

Even head coach Doc Rivers senses that the team's level of trust now is on a different level than what he saw earlier this season.

"The trust may not have been there throughout the team early on," Rivers said following Boston's 116-95 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

With more than half of the roster new this season, Rivers thought there were times when the ball would swing to one player and not another simply based on trust; or in some instances, a lack of trust.

"I thought guys at times would look and uh, 'I'm not going to throw it to him, I'm going to throw it over here,'" Rivers said. "Now they're just letting the ball go and it's finding the open shooter."

While some might try and point to Rondo's departure as being a factor in the team's increased trust, remember the Celtics' turn-around to their season began with their defense.

And that improved play defensively began in January when Rondo was still in the lineup.

If anything, his torn right ACL injury left the Celtics little choice but to trust one another more than ever.

Adversity has a trickle-down effect on a team, with increased trust at times being one of the byproducts.

"This is all we got right here, in this locker room," Celtics big man Chris Wilcox told CSNNE.com. "We're here for each other, fighting for each other, every game. That's the only way we can get to where we want to be."

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.