BOSTON -- Avery Bradley spent seven seasons in Boston, but has found himself jettisoned off to two different teams in the last six months.
It’s the business side of things that no amount of time in the league will ever fully prepare you for.
But for the ex-Celtic, this latest move in many ways has him coming full circle in reuniting with Clippers boss Doc Rivers, who coached Bradley in Boston during the 6-foot-2 guard’s first four seasons in the NBA.
That familiarity has been a plus for Bradley and can only help him tonight as the Clippers try to continue their winning ways against the Celtics.
“It’s helped out a lot,” Bradley said.
Rivers echoed similar sentiments.
“It helps, probably for both [of us],” Rivers said.
However, one of the more significant differences from the time Bradley played for the Celtics under Rivers, was the offense.
“We run so much more now,” Rivers said. “That’s who we are; that’s the type of team we have. And on the other end, he’s such a different player than when I coached him. He was so young. We wasted the first year trying to get him as a point guard and realized he’s more of a guard, he’s a heck of a player. His offensive game has opened up so much more, so . . . you don’t get this opportunity very often, when you have a young guy and then you get him back. But it’s been really cool to see the difference and the growth in Avery.”
Here are five under-the-radar storylines heading into tonight’s game between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Clippers.
Former Celtics teammates and Tacoma, Washington natives Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley are back together -- sort of.
Both were part of deals at the trade deadline, with Thomas being shipped out to the Los Angeles Lakers while Bradley now plays for the Los Angeles Clippers.
Bradley said he has had conversations with his good friend/former teammate since the two were moved to teams in Los Angeles.
In their conversations, Bradley has tried to remain upbeat with Thomas, who has come under heavy criticism in several circles. The negative vibe surrounding Thomas was, in part, a factor in the Cavs trading him.
“All the negative press, all the bad things people are saying about him . . . I tell him everything happens for a reason and go out there and do what Isaiah Thomas does and that’s playing with confidence and helping his team win games,” Bradley said.
One of the bigger influences on Terry Rozier since he has been in the NBA, has been Avery Bradley. When the two were teammates for the Celtics, Rozier would often turn to Bradley for advice as well as on-the-floor tips. Well Rozier has taken that advice and used it to become one of the more valuable role players off the Celtics bench this season.
“This game is all about opportunity and confidence,” Bradley said. “So Terry is getting a great opportunity and he has confidence when he’s out there playing basketball. I’m happy for him. He’s definitely a guy that works hard and works on his game and now it’s paying off.”
TURNOVER A NEW LEAF
Boston is turning the ball over 13.9 times per game which ranks 12th in the NBA. Not bad . . . until you compare it to previous turnover numbers and rankings under Brad Stevens. Since Stevens’ rookie season, when the Celtics’ turnover average (15.3) ranked 27th in the NBA, Boston has consistently been a top-10 or borderline top-10 team in fewest turnovers committed per game. Having lost three of their last four games, Boston has averaged 14.6 turnovers, which ranks 25th in the league during that span.
One of the more pleasant surprises for the Clippers this season has been the play of Montrezl Harrell, particularly his scoring around the rim on post-up plays.
The 24-year-old forward has averaged 9.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game while playing 15.4 minutes per game.
“He’s a great example, every year you talk about guys accepting their role and trying to be a star in their role. He’s a perfect example,” Rivers said. “Early on he was trying to find his way. And now he knows exactly what he needs to do. He’s been amazing.
Rivers added, “One of the things I didn’t know about him, was I didn’t know he was that good on the post. Last year in Houston, I don’t ever remember them throwing post passes to him. I didn’t go into the season thinking about it because I never seen it. You saw it in practice and you’re thinking, are our guys bad post players on defense? And you realize he’s just good on the post.”
In his last five games, Harrell has shot 71.1 percent (27-for-38) from the field.
Al Horford doesn’t score nearly as much as some fans (and media members) would like to see. But there’s no denying good things tend to happen for the Celtics when he’s on the floor. This season, Boston has an offensive rating of 106.9 when the five-time All-Star is on the floor. That number drops to 100.0 when’s off the court. The 6.9 differential is tops among all Celtics players this season.
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