Patriots

Bradley expanding game with clutch shooting

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Bradley expanding game with clutch shooting

CHARLOTTE, N.C. We have seen first-hand the emergence of Avery Bradley into an above-average defender who can occasionally make shots when given the opportunity.

He's not just making shots now; he's making big, end-of-the-game, momentum-shifters that give opponents yet another layer of concern when facing the Boston Celtics.

With no Big Three on hand on Sunday, it was Bradley coming up with some huge Big Three-like buckets in the fourth quarter to propel the C's to a 94-82 win.

"I'm just going to continue playing hard," said Bradley. "That's what my team needs me to do. With Rajon Rondo and those guys, the ball will find you if you make plays happen on the defensive end. That's what I try to do."

Bradley's defense remains his strength. But the ability to knock down mid-range shots and corner 3-pointers, is gaining ground quickly.

In Sunday's win, the Bobcats had cut Boston's lead down to just four, 78-74, with 6: 55 to play.

After the Celtics prevented Charlotte from scoring on a couple of possessions, Bradley drained a corner 3-pointer with 5:38 to play that put the C's up by seven points.

From there, the Celtics pushed their lead to double digits and never looked back.

The corner 3-pointer is a shot that Bradley says he has been working on all season.

"I feel a lot more comfortable out there, to shoot that shot," he said. "I just feel like it's a confidence thing. When you have confidence, believe that it's going in, it usually goes in. That's how I been doing it."

Bradley had another 3-pointer in the game in which he basically ran to that spot in the corner, got the pass from Rajon Rondo, and drained it.

"When Rondo passed me the ball and I was kind of running and shot it, I believed that was going in," Bradley said. "And it did."

It was in some ways reminiscent to another Celtic who tends to run to spots and launches 3-pointers - Ray Allen.

"It's hard to pull a Ray," Bradley chuckled. "Close as you can. Ray's amazing, man."

Which can also be said for Bradley's evolution as a player who can now do a number of things to help the Celtics win - including knock down clutch shots in the fourth quarter.

Backes and Bergeron return to Bruins practice, may be back in action soon

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Backes and Bergeron return to Bruins practice, may be back in action soon

BRIGHTON -- It was good news when word first filtered out that David Backes had resumed skating last weekend while the Bruins were on the West Coast, and even better news Tuesday when he returned to practice. Backes skated without any restrictions in a spot on the third line with Riley Nash and Tim Schaller, and appeared to be recovering nicely from his bout of diverticulitis.

Backes was initially diagnosed with the inflammatory colon ailment in the first few days of October, with the team estimating a three- to four-week recovery period. If he'd needed surgery rather than the  prescribed rest and medication, he could have been facing a lot more missed games.

Patrice Bergeron was also back skating on Tuesday morning while centering Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork, still sporting a maroon no-contact jersey while taking some light contact during the practice session.

Backes and Bergeron look like they’ could be returning to the lineup soon.

But the injury news wasn't all good, as Ryan Spooner, Austin Czarnik, Danton Heinen and Adam McQuaid were all missing from practice.

Spooner (lower body) and McQuaid (lower body) were both injured in Sunday night’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, and Czarnik and/or Heinen might be ticketed back to Providence soon if the Bruins have to make roster space for Bergeron and/or Backes ahead of Thursday night’s home game against the Vancouver Canucks.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena with a whole different look to things with some of the different bodies taking part in the skate:

Marchand-Bergeron-Bjork
DeBrusk-Krejci-Pasta
Schaller-Nash-Backes
Beleskey-Kuraly-Vatrano
White

Chara-Carlo
Miller-McAvoy
Krug-Postma

Rask
Khudobin