Bradley all business in return to 'second home'

Bradley all business in return to 'second home'

BOSTON – When it comes to honoring former Celtics players, the standard in recent years has been you had to be part of a championship team.

But there was no way the Celtics were going to let Avery Bradley return to the TD Garden for the first time with his new team, the Detroit Pistons, and not in some way acknowledge what he meant to the franchise during his seven seasons.

Prior to him being announced in the Pistons’ starting lineup, there was a video tribute that lasted about 45 seconds, highlighting many of the big plays he made when he donned a Celtics uniform.

“It meant a lot to me,” said Bradley whose Pistons knocked off the Celtics 1118-108 on Monday. “My seven years here I tried to go out there and compete hard and leave everything out on the floor. For them to show that respect back meant a lot to me. This will always be my second home and I love all the fans in Boston.”


And they love Bradley, evident by the autograph-seekers near the tunnel entrance towards the locker rooms, many of whom came specifically to see Bradley.

To his credit, he took the time to talk with them before the game, take a pictures, sign autographs … do all the things that he did time and time again when he played for the Celtics.

“These fans are the best,” Bradley told NBC Sports Boston in the middle of signing an autograph prior to tip-off.

But as much as Bradley loves the fans in Boston and the organization, this was not a trip of leisure.

He had business to take care of, namely trying to slow down Boston’s Kyrie Irving.

Irving still managed a near double-double of 18 points and nine assists, but Bradley made him work for it which is evident by Irving shooting just 6-for-16 from the field while turning the ball over six times.

The play of Bradley in many ways mirrored the play of the rest of the Pistons.

“Certainly, Avery on the point of attack on defense was great,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “But I thought they (Pistons) were really, really good. They played with great pace, they played with great purpose. They tried to take the ball out of Kyrie’s hands and they did so pretty successfully. So, you know, they were really good; they’ve been really good most of the year.”

And some of that has to do with Bradley who was traded to Detroit for Marcus Morris in July so that the Celtics would have enough cap space to sign Gordon Hayward to the four-year, $127.8 million contract they came to terms on July 4.

For Bradley, he’s with a team that’s clearly on the rise and is currently second in the East record-wise, to the Celtics.

He came into Monday’s game averaging a career-high 16.8 points which in part has been fueled by his ability to get to the free throw line more this year than he has at any point in his career.

Getting better in some facet of his game has been a given every year with Bradley. This season, we’ve seen him attack defenders off the dribble more and in doing so, has resulted in more free throw attempts.

The Celtics saw his growth first-hand on Monday as Bradley made his first three shots while dishing out three assists in the first quarter alone.

The warm reception from the fans.

The chance to see his former teammates as well as various Celtics staff members.

And the victory.


Avery Bradley got all he wanted out of this game.

“It was a great experience for me being able to come back to a place I call my second home, to be able to get the win, but most importantly the way that we played,” Bradley said.

Among the familiar faces he saw was Jaylen Brown who as it turns out, is in the starting lineup at shooting guard – Bradley’s old job with the Celtics.

“I credit a lot of what I’ve been able to do this year, just by watching Avery last year defensively,” Brown told NBC Sports Boston. “Seeing him again, not even in basketball terms, just off the floor. Avery was somebody I could go to and talk to, so seeing Avery again was good. It looks like he’s in good spirits and he played really well.”


NBA: Congrats to the Celtics on the win, but they for sure should not have won

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NBA: Congrats to the Celtics on the win, but they for sure should not have won

The NBA officials' Last Two Minute report for Tuesday is out, and boy did the Celtics get away with one!

The league admitted to missing two infractions -- both committed by Marcus Morris -- on the possession on which Morris hit a game-winning three-pointer against the Thunder. 

The C's began the possession with Morris inbounding the ball, but a stopwatch revealed to the league that Morris did not release the ball within the five seconds allotted on an inbounding play. Had the correct call been made, the ball would have been turned over to the Thunder, who at the time held a two-point lead with 7.7 seconds remaining. 

Furthermore, video replay led the league to determine that Morris traveled prior to taking the shot. The video evidence that suggested this was that Morris was wearing an NBA jersey in the video, but also he moved his pivot foot prior to the release of his dribble. That call would have also given the Thunder the ball. 

What these nerds didn't consider is that the basketball gods have more power than their stopwatches. What a win. 

Celtics have shown a knack for the comeback this year

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Celtics have shown a knack for the comeback this year

BOSTON -- As I made my way towards the Boston Celtics locker room following their 100-99 win over Oklahoma City on Tuesday night, I walked past co-owner Wyc Grousbeck, who, as you might expect, was pleased with what he had just witnessed.
“That was a good one,” he said.
That’s one way to describe it.


But explaining the Houdini-like way the Celtics seem to get out of some serious jams over and over again, and against really good teams, is indeed a head-scratcher for most.
It’s getting to the point where we’re running out of fresh adjectives to describe this team, which has a knack for the comeback.
“Improbable” doesn’t do justice to how Boston’s hit-the-lottery luck has played out so often on nights when it seemed on the doorstep of defeat.
And this town loves a good comeback story, whether it’s Tom Brady leading the Patriots to a Super Bowl win after being down by 25 points, or the Celtics spotting the NBA champ Golden State Warriors a 17-point cushion before rallying for a meaningful November win -- a rarity in the NBA.
But the obscure and unexpected have become standard in this seemingly alternate basketball universe that the Celtics play in, one that we have been bearing witness to all season.

I mean, look at their body of work:

DECEMBER 18: Down by one on the road at Indiana in the closing seconds of play in what appears to be a tough road loss, Terry Rozier steals and races down the floor looking like Deion Sanders in high-tops, for a game-winning dunk.

DECEMBER 28: Trailing the Houston Rockets by 26 points in the third quarter, they rally back and steal the win with not one, but two offensive fouls drawn in the last minute by Marcus Smart against perennial league MVP candidate James Harden.

JANUARY 11: In London, they erased a 22-point deficit and defeated Philly.

FEBRUARY 4: There was a buzzer-beater by Al Horford to beat Portland on Super Bowl Sunday.

And . . . well, you get the idea.

Boston has six wins by a single point this season, which is tied with Miami for the season lead and is one shy of tying the franchise record for one-point wins in a season. 

In addition, Boston has won 10 games this season in which it fell behind by 12 or more points. 
Winning so many games under less-than-ideal circumstances has not only padded the Celtics' win total, but also reinforced this team with a Teflon-strong mindset. They believe they're tthe ultimate practitioner of basketball necromancy, consistently finding a way to rise up from the basketball graveyard of defeat and win in dramatic fashion.

Like they did Tuesday night against the Thunder.

How can you bank on Carmelo Anthony, a career 81.2 percent free-throw shooter, missing a pair with less than nine seconds to play?
Or botching the play Brad Stevens drew up at the end of the game -- "We kind of messed [it] up," said Jayson Tatum -- but, rather than it leading to a turnover, instead becoming a game-winning 3-pointer by Marcus Morris with 1.8 seconds to spare? 


 It was another crazy ending in what has been a season filled with bizarre finishes, jaw-dropping rallies and a never-say-it’s-over brand of basketball that has kept Celtics fans on the edge of their seats all season.
“It’s great to be in a situation where you’re down six with under a minute to play or whatever it was, and you find a way to win the game,” said Stevens. “That’s going to be pretty unique, but they just kept playing the next possession and we were fortunate that that shot went down. That was a heck of a shot by Marcus."
A heck of a shot?
But in this bizarro world of Celtics basketball this season, it was predictable as the Thunder became yet another team to play Boston and leave wondering the same thing most Celtics fans do … “Did THAT just happen?