Stars, studs and duds: Bradley shines at both ends of the floor

Stars, studs and duds: Bradley shines at both ends of the floor

BOSTON – Conventional wisdom tells you that in dealing with Washington’s Bradley Beal, you have to stay attached to him as much as possible with your best defender.

While that certainly was part of Avery Bradley’s plan in dealing with the Wizards sharpshooter, he knew part of his success defensively would be to hit Beal with an explosive game offensively.

And it was Bradley’s success at both ends of the floor that helped set the tone in Boston’s 110-102 victory.


Bradley had 20 points for Boston (45-26) which now leads the Wizards (42-28) by 2.5 games for the No. 2 seed in the East and trail East-leading Cleveland (46-23) by 2.0 games.

Although this was the fourth and final regular season meeting between these two, Bradley had missed the two previous games due to an Achilles injury.

“He was motivated; you could tell in his eye he wanted this game,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “He was ready and he was the spark for us at the beginning.”

Bradley scored Boston’s first five points, and seven the team’s first 14 before finishing with an 11-point first quarter.

A First Team All-NBA Defensive Team member last season, Bradley continues to prove that there’s more to his game than just locking up players defensively.

“Avery, obviously, is a leader in that (playing great defense),” Stevens said. “And then he came out and made those first few shots, made some really tough shots off screens, and as much as you have to chase Brad (Beal) around we wanted to run our guys around a little bit too and I thought he (Bradley) set a good tone for us.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Monday’s game between the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards.



Isaiah Thomas

He didn’t have the big fourth quarter scoring the ball that fans are accustomed to, but Thomas did plenty of good things in his return to the Celtics lineup after missing two games with a knee injury. He had a game-high 25 points with four rebounds, four assists and two steals.

Bradley Beal

The plan was to make him a volume scorer, which is exactly what the Celtics did. He finished with a team-high 19 points but did so on 6-for-15 shooting along with five turnovers.

Avery Bradley

Arguably the biggest difference-maker of the game, Bradley’s ability to score right out the gates coupled with his rock-solid defense propelled Boston to one of their biggest wins of the season. Bradley had 20 points on 8-f0r-16 shooting with nine rebounds and four assists.



Celtics rebounding

Normally an area of concern, Boston absolutely dominated the Wizards like we’ve seldom seen them do against any opponent. Boston out-rebounded Washington 54-39 but just as significant, hauled in a season-high 20 offensive rebounds. It was the first time since Game 2 of their 2009 first-round playoff series against Chicago that the Celtics grabbed 20 or more rebounds and came away with a win.

Brandon Jennings

On a night when so many Wizards struggled, Jennings was one of the few positives. He finished with 10 points to go with seven assists off the bench.

Jae Crowder

Yet another strong night for Crowder, his defense and overall presence were critical to Boston’s big win. He had 16 points and nine rebounds in addition to tallying three steals with one blocked shot.

Al Horford

He continues to provide a little bit of everything the Celtics need, stuffing the stat sheet in several categories. He had 16 points on 6-for-11 shooting, along with grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out five assists to go with a pair of blocked shots.

Celtics bench

Tyler Zeller didn’t play much, but his physical play seemingly set the tone for a monster night rebounding for the Celtics. Kelly Olynyk had a near double-double of nine points and a season-high 11 rebounds. And while Marcus Smart was visibly frustrated by some of the calls and non-calls by the referees, he came up with one of the biggest plays – a steal in the fourth quarter – that was critical to the win. Essentially every player head coach Brad Stevens turned to off the bench, came up and delivered in some fashion.



John Wall

He never got into any kind of flow all game, seemingly alternating between miscues and missed shots. He finished with 16 points on 4-for-10 shooting. And while he had a team-high eight assists, he also turned the ball over five times.

Doctor: Irving could return in 'three to four weeks'

Doctor: Irving could return in 'three to four weeks'

Kyrie Irving could be back on the court in time for the Celtics to begin the playoffs.

Or not.

Irving will have what the Celts are describing as a "minimally invasive procedure" on his injured left knee Saturday. NBC Sports Boston talked to Dr. Christopher Chihlas from Southcoast Health -- who has not examined Irving but is familiar with his type of injury -- about how long Irving may be sidelined.

"A minimally invasive procedure is basically an arthroscopy," said Dr. Chihlas. "His return to play is mostly dependent on what is done . . . If it's just a cleanout, as we're being told, then -- best-case scenario -- we could see him back playing in three to four weeks."

But, he added, "it could be double that . . . depending upon what exactly is found . . . 

"The key here is the patella fracture (which Irving suffered during the 2015 playoffs). My feeling is that he's suffering a bit of the consequence of the patella fracture, which is a fracture into the knee joint . . . [He] may need to have this done periodically to get him through the rest of his career."


Terry Rozier's rise should continue without Kyrie Irving

AP Photo

Terry Rozier's rise should continue without Kyrie Irving

When it comes to Western Conference powers, the casual NBA fan will immediately think of the defending champion Golden State Warriors, or the Houston Rockets who loom as their biggest threat. 

And then there’s the next-best team in the West, Portland, which has been sneaky good this season with very little fanfare. 

Boston will see first-hand just how talented the Blazers are when these two square off tonight.

Portland’s improved play of late (they’ve won 13 of their last 14 games) is fueled in large part by them taking more 3-pointers. 

Prior to Jan. 1, the Blazers averaged 24.6 three-point attempts which ranked 26th in the NBA. Since then, they have increased their 3-point attempt average to 30.5 which ranks 12th in the league.

Couple that with a defense that has been among the league’s best most of this season, and voila! – you’ve got a team that’s playing great basketball at just the right time. 

But the Celtics on many levels, while undermanned because of injuries, are still an elite team defensively.

And the one area where Boston has been strong all season, is defending the three-point shot.

Opponents are shooting a league-low 34.1 percent against Boston from 3-point range this season.

And while Boston’s defense isn’t the same when you’re talking about not having a Marcus Smart in the lineup, the Celtics are still a formidable foe at that end of the floor. 

In Boston’s last four games, all without Smart, Boston’s defensive rating is 98.8 which is good for the fourth-best in the NBA in that time period. 

“We’ve been a next man up kind of team all season,” Boston’s Semi Ojeleye told NBC Sports Boston. “That’s why it’s important to always stay ready. Because you know at some point on this team, you’re number’s going to be called and you’ll get your opportunity.”

Here are five under-the-radar story lines as the Boston Celtics seek to continue their strong play this season against Western Conference foes, at Portland. 



Terry Rozier has been a different kind of player ever since he got his first start a few weeks ago filling in for Kyrie Irving. The third-year guard has scored in double figures 20 straight games, a career first for him. In that span he has averaged 15.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists while shooting 41.9 percent from the field and 42.7 percent from 3-point range.


If tonight’s game plays out as expected, points will be at a premium. Boston has the league’s top-ranked defense (101.2) even as its defensive rating has slipped to No. 5 in the league (103.1) since the all-star break. Meanwhile, the Blazers have the seventh-best defensive rating (104.3) this season, but are third (101.0) in the NBA since the all-star break.


You will be hard-pressed to find a player who wouldn’t mind a little rest with the playoffs less than a month away. But are a couple days without games too much rest? It certainly looks that way for the Celtics who are 4-6 this season with two or more days of rest before a game. The Portland Trail Blazers are at the opposite end of the success spectrum with a 10-3 record when they’ve had two days of rest before a game. 


Both Boston and Portland have been among the NBA’s better defensive rebounding teams all season. But they have each stepped up their defensive rebounding play this month. Portland, the fourth-best defensive rebounding team this season, have grabbed a league-best 83.2 percent in March while the Celtics, the sixth-best defensive rebounding team this season, are up to No. 3 (80.6 percent) this month.


Jayson Tatum is nearing the end of one of the best rookie seasons by a Boston Celtic ever, well on his way to statistically cementing himself as one of the franchise’s best first-year players ever. The 6-foot-8 forward is 35 points shy of tallying 1,000 points which would make him the ninth rookie ever to do so for Boston, with the last to do so being Ron Mercer during the 1997-1998 season.