Bradley gaining confidence with every game


Bradley gaining confidence with every game

BOSTON Every now and then, Avery Bradley finds himself resisting the urge to pinch himself when he thinks about where he was a year ago and where he is now.

Back then he was just another young guy in the NBA trying to find his way on to the court and play meaningful minutes.

Today, he's a starter for one of the most storied franchises in the NBA.

Several of his teammates have praised Bradley for the strides he has made in his overall game.

But the most important individual in recognizing his progress has been C's head coach Doc Rivers.

Rivers acknowledges being surprised at how much Bradley's all-around game has improved.

"I said last year what he was defensively. You could see that," Rivers said. "Offensively, he's definitely ahead. Defensively, I thought he was there last year."

Said Bradley: "It's been exciting, especially seeing my progression and now getting a chance."

And with his chance, the Celtics (31-24) are now seen as having a greater chance of making a deep playoff run in part because of Bradley's emergence.

Bradley isn't just starting, but he's starting ahead of a shoo-in Hall of Famer in Ray Allen who is still considered one of the NBA's top shooters.

Still, for Rivers, the impact that Bradley has made defensively with the first unit has been too important to not be in the starting lineup.

"Avery's going nowhere defensively," Rivers said. "He's going to be right there. Teams are going to start setting far more backcourt picks on him."

And those picks have already taken a toll on his body.

Bradley has been dealing with a left shoulder injury that's still bothersome, but not enough to where he anticipates missing any games. And the bevy of screens and picks that he has to fight through every game only makes it tougher to fully recover.

"The screens definitely don't help," Bradley said. "Every time I do a certain movement, it bothers me. But I'll be alright."

Bradley has come too far too quickly to allow a minor injury to have major impact on him making the most of his opportunity to play now.

As a rookie last year, remaining confident was not easy.

Fortunately for Bradley, he had several teammates -- among them Sasha Pavlovic -- constantly giving him tips on how to improve his game as well as keeping his spirits up when things weren't going his way.

The two go one-on-one before most games, home and on the road.

They have struck up the kind of friendship that, when Bradley rattles off all those who have helped him get to where he is now, Pavlovic is indeed on the list.

"Sasha has helped me out so much, always keeping my confidence up" Bradley said. "It used to be after games, I'd come to Sasha and say, 'How'd I do? What do I need to do?' Him and Keyon (Dooling), I always ask those guys and they used to tell me. It's something that we all help each other out with. That's why I love my teammates."

And while Bradley is used to being the one being encouraged, he finds himself now returning the favor to Pavlovic.

"Sometimes he might pass up a shot," Bradley said. "And we're like, 'Sasha, shoot the ball! We know you can shoot! Keep shooting it!' "

Bradley was among the Celtics excited with the play of Pavlovic in Boston's 86-72 win on Saturday, a game in which Pavlovic had eight points with most coming during a critical second quarter run that positioned the C's for the victory.

"Me and Sasha been like this since last year," Bradley said. "We hang out; we always help each other out. He's somebody that felt comfortable around me. We want to see each other succeed."

Bradley is indeed doing just that, which is somewhat surprising when you consider how far he has come from where he was a year ago this time.

He remembers vividly how uncomfortable and unsure he was about his game last year. He could see it on video of last year's games.

"Me being bringing the ball up court, how timid I was, everything. You could sense it, how nervous I was," Bradley said.

He has no plans of forgetting those times, because they serve as a reminder of where he's at now, and where he doesn't ever want to return to.

"That's what I try to do every game, take steps forwards and not take steps back," Bradley said.

Back then, Bradley admits his confidence wasn't where it needed to be.

That's not an issue now.

"Totally gone," Bradley said of his lack of confidence at times last year. "And that comes from my teammates, too; giving me confidence. Sometimes letting me know, 'You're good. You don't have to be nervous.' Kevin (Garnett) tells me stuff like that all the time. That's motivation hearing it from those guys."

Indy columnist rips Colts for Josh McDaniels hire


Indy columnist rips Colts for Josh McDaniels hire

Gregg Doyel hates Josh McDaniels. 

That's the only takeaway one can have after reading Doyel's latest column in the Indy Star, anyway. In it, Doyel writes that McDaniels, who is expected to be hired as Colts head coach, already got his chance to prove his chops as a head coach in Denver and showed he stinks. 

Writes Doyel: 

We get a clean slate just once, same as Josh McDaniels, and his came in 2009 when he was hired to coach the Denver Broncos. And in less than two years he spray-painted so much graffiti on there that the Broncos fired him for a variety of reasons, so take your pick: his abrasive personality, his horrific judgment of talent, his team’s penchant for losing games, or those broken NFL rules.

Here in Indianapolis, where Josh McDaniels is about to be entrusted with our city’s crown jewel – he’s expected to be the next head coach of the Indianapolis Colts – are we to pretend Denver didn’t happen?

Doyel also refers to a 2013 quote from former Broncos punter Mitch Berger, who compared playing for McDaniels to playing for an "equipment manager" and called him a "punk." Then there's this from Doyel, who likes where Berger's going with the "punk" talk: 

I still can’t believe this is happening. Can’t believe McDaniels will soon be hired by the Colts, and entrusted with Andrew Luck. Can’t believe he was the hottest commodity on the coaching market this fall. McDaniels is Lane Kiffin to me, an arrogant young punk who ascended rapidly after Daddy got him a cherry first job in coaching – McDaniels’ father, Ohio high school legend Thom McDaniels, was friends with Nick Saban, who hired Josh as a grad assistant at Michigan State in 1999 – and who kept getting promoted to the point of failure.

This isn't the first time Doyel has had a take critical of the Patriots, so maybe we shouldn't be surprised. But he for sure hates Josh McDaniels. 

Brady in a stew over Jags-just-another-tomato-can talk

Brady in a stew over Jags-just-another-tomato-can talk

Don’t let Tom Brady hear your nonsensical takes on the Jacksonville Jaguars. This “tomato can” is packed with all the essential elements to give the Pats QB fits.

“This is the biggest challenge we've faced all year,” Brady said Tuesday during his weekly interview with Kirk and Callahan on WEEI. “We've had a good offense. They've had the best defense. And that's always a challenge when you go up against those guys. When you watch them play over the course of the whole season, you can see why. There is not a lot of time for the quarterback to throw, and I think the whole secondary knows it. The linebackers know it. And they're aggressive. They take chances. They get a lot of turnovers. They got a really good scheme, and the quarterback is just under pressure all day. Unless you get opened very quickly, there’s a lot of sacks and sacks turns into long yardage and long yardage turns into punts . . . "

Brady spent hours on Monday pouring over film to familiarize himself with a Jags team that he last saw in the preseason.

“There’s a reason why they’re in this game,” he said. “They’re the best team we’ve faced all season and if we don’t play our best, we’re not going to advance.”

That’s why Brady won’t allow himself to be distracted by all that comes with advancing to this point, or even the lingering stench of that ESPN/Seth Wickersham article. Who’s got time for that when there is so much on the line?

“This is a long time we’ve committed to each other since we came back together in April,” he said. “April, May, all those months committed to training and walkthroughs and practices and games and injuries and the emotion -- I don’t think we’re going to let anything get in the way of this week. I think the coach -- Coach [Bill] Belichick -- he does so many great things. One thing is he sets the best tone for the players because he knows what it takes to compete at this level without -- there’s more hype surrounding the game, there’s more distractions, there’s more people, there’s more people covering the game, there’s more to talk about it but we’re focused on our job . . . The hype only gets bigger from here so we just gotta stay focused on what we need to do.”

The Jags have obviously done a good job on that front as well. There is no way they’d be at this point, on this stage, without not only talent but that singular focus. Of course with some youth comes some exuberance and Jalen Ramsey’s comments to about 10,000 fans Sunday night has been a topic of conversation on sports radio and television and even in the Patriots’ locker room.

Brady doesn’t believe that’s something that would ever come out of Foxboro, but he’s not publicly shaming Ramsey either.

“What i’ve learned over a long time is it’s how you play, it’s not what you say," Brady said. "Everyone has different ways of handling things. We do what works for us.”