Bradley, Lee picking up slack for Celtics


Bradley, Lee picking up slack for Celtics

LOS ANGELES When Rajon Rondo was on the floor, there was no question that he was the Celtics' floor leader.

Besides having the ball in his hand more than anyone else, often his play at both ends of the floor would set the tone as to how the Celtics would play.

With him out of the mix, the ability of Courtney Lee and Avery Bradley to fill that void has been one of the more overlooked aspects of the C's strong play as they have put together wins in eight of their last 10 games.

"It's not said but, simultaneously and kind of inadvertently, we're following their lead," said Boston's Kevin Garnett. "Those two have been very good for us."

In Boston's 97-90 loss at Denver on Tuesday, it was their play at both ends of the floor that kept the Celtics in the game when the team's usual 1-2 punch -- Garnett and Paul Pierce -- struggled to make the kind of impact the C's are accustomed to.

And with tonight's game against the Los Angeles Lakers being a back-to-back, the C's may once again need strong games from players besides their two future Hall of Famers.

For a team that prides itself on its defense, having Lee and Bradley start games is about as ideal a scenario for the Celtics.

But as important as it is for them to play strong defensively, Celtics coach Doc Rivers needs them to provide more in order for the C's to be successful.

Against the Nuggets on Tuesday, the C's took a 50-49 lead into the half. Bradley and Lee accounted for 24 of the Celtics' first-half points which included a jumper by Lee with just before the halftime horn sounded.

"We need that on this trip and the rest of the season," Rivers said.

Prior to the all-star break, Rivers said he spoke with both players as to what he expected from them once they returned.

"We have to be a little more aggressive for them in pick-and-rolls and attacking the basket," Rivers said. "They were pretty good."

But their success will still be predicated in large part by the play of Pierce and Garnett.

"When you got KG and you got Paul, they're going to draw a lot of attention," Lee said. "So when they get the ball, they draw doubles. And then me and Avery are open."

And when they are open, their ability to knock down open shots or drive to the basket has created another means in which the C's can generate offense.

Both have managed to strike a balance between being more aggressive while still finding ways to continue playing off of the team's two core guys.

"It's not hard at all," Lee said. "We know that those are our go-to guys. For us to get open and get the best looks, we have to go through them. They're good players, they're both unselfish and they're going to make the right plays as far as find the open man."

For Garnett, it has been refreshing to see the work each has put in their game, pay off both individually and for the Celtics.

"I'm proud of those two," Garnett said. "They've worked really, really hard to get to where they are. They've been busting their ass night-in, night-out. You have to tip your hat, try to continue to encourage them."

Plenty of on-the-job training for Celtics' rookies

Plenty of on-the-job training for Celtics' rookies

BOSTON – With all the changes the Celtics went through over the summer, seeing more rookies on the floor this season was a given.
But six?
Yes, only three games into the season and the Celtics have played more rookies than any team under fifth-year coach Brad Stevens.


And in the 102-92 victory at Philadelphia on Friday night, the Celtics (1-2) played almost as many first-year players (five) as veterans (six).
The youth movement here in Boston has been sped up a bit by the season-ending injury to Gordon Hayward, compounded by a left ankle sprain to Marcus Smart that Smart said won’t keep him out any more than Friday night in Philly.

Even if Smart is back in the Celtics lineup Tuesday night against New York, that doesn’t change the fact that Boston will continue to need rookies to step up and contribute going forward as they did on Friday.
And while there’s an old adage about experience being the greatest teacher, Boston’s youngsters are going to have to fast-forward past some of those on-the-floor growing pains for the Celtics to stay among the top teams in the East.
“Everybody talks about young players having to learn by going through experience,” said Stevens. “Why don’t we just watch film and learn? Learn from things we can control and in the interim, let’s beat the age thing. Let’s not talk about the age thing. Let’s talk about how we can be better at what we can control and how we can learn and grow every day and expedite the learning curve.
Stevens added, “because they are going to get opportunities all the way down the line, let’s not focus on trying to learn from experience; let’s focus on learning from every day and see if we can get a little bit better every day.”
The one rookie who has had no problem adjusting to the NBA game early on has been Jayson Tatum.
Selected with the third overall pick last June, Tatum has been among the NBA's most productive rookies in this first week of the season.
Tatum’s 35.3 minutes played per game is tops among all rookies. His 12.3 points and 9.0 rebounds rank seventh and fourth among his first-year brethren.
Stevens loves what he has seen thus far from Tatum, but believes he’s capable of making an even greater impact sooner rather than later.
“I like him to shoot it on the catch more,” Stevens said. “Because he has tremendous touch. When he shoots it in rhythm with confidence, the ball finds the net. He’s one of those guys; he’s a natural scorer. But his ability to read the game … he’s very intelligent. It’s been more evident on the defensive end. He’s gonna pick his spots offensively now. But we want him to be aggressive and first and foremost, be a threat to shoot it every time he catches it.
Stevens added, “I guess it should feel pretty good when you’re 19 years old and your coach is begging you to shoot it.”
How quickly Tatum and the rest of Boston’s youngsters grow into the roles they will be asked to play this season can do nothing but help the Celtics adapt to what has already been a season with major changes needing to be made.
“You saw [against Philadelphia], we had Shane [Larkin], we had Guerschon [Yabusele], we had guys coming in that played the game at a high level and we need them to contribute,” said Boston’s Kyrie Irving. “For me to see that and witness that, it makes me nothing but proud and happy to have teammates that are ready to play. It’s not always going to look perfect because we’re still gaining knowledge about one another. But as long as we’re out there competing, having each other’s backs, that’s all that matters.”

Kyrie Irving fined $25,000 for his inappropriate language with a fan


Kyrie Irving fined $25,000 for his inappropriate language with a fan

BOSTON – As expected, the NBA has fined Celtics guard Kyrie Irving $25,000 for using “inappropriate language” toward a fan at the Friday night game in Philadelphia.
The incident occurred at halftime as Irving and his teammates were heading to the locker room, trailing by four. Boston went on to win 102-92 for their first victory of the season.
A fan yelled, “Hey, where’s LeBron?” to which Irving replied with a lewd suggestion to the yeller.
The Celtics practiced on Saturday with Irving addressing the incident.

When asked if he had any regrets about the incident, Irving replied, “Hell no. Man enough to record it on video, that’s on him. I’m glad he got his ad name out there, and his five seconds of fame and it’s gone viral. That’s social media platform we live on.
Irving added, “I take full responsibility for what I said. You move on.”
When asked about the incident on Saturday, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he had not seen the video but was aware of it.
“People make mistakes; hopefully learn from them and move on,” Stevens said. “There’s a right and wrong. And if you’re in the wrong you have to own up to it and that’s that.”

It was the second such fine levied by the league in as many days. 

New Orleans center DeMarcus Cousins was fined $25,000 for "inappropriate language" toward a fan when the Pelicans lost 103-91 at Memphis on Wednesday.