Celtics

Bradley finds a familiar face in L.A.

Bradley finds a familiar face in L.A.

BOSTON -- Avery Bradley spent seven seasons in Boston, but has found himself jettisoned off to two different teams in the last six months.
 
It’s the business side of things that no amount of time in the league will ever fully prepare you for.
 
But for the ex-Celtic, this latest move in many ways has him coming full circle in reuniting with Clippers boss Doc Rivers, who coached Bradley in Boston during the 6-foot-2 guard’s first four seasons in the NBA. 
 
That familiarity has been a plus for Bradley and can only help him tonight as the Clippers try to continue their winning ways against the Celtics. 
 
“It’s helped out a lot,” Bradley said. 
 
Rivers echoed similar sentiments. 

“It helps, probably for both [of us],” Rivers said.
 
However, one of the more significant differences from the time Bradley played for the Celtics under Rivers, was the offense. 

“We run so much more now,” Rivers said. “That’s who we are; that’s the type of team we have. And on the other end, he’s such a different player than when I coached him. He was so young. We wasted the first year trying to get him as a point guard and realized he’s more of a guard, he’s a heck of a player. His offensive game has opened up so much more, so . . . you don’t get this opportunity very often, when you have a young guy and then you get him back. But it’s been really cool to see the difference and the growth in Avery.”
 
Here are five under-the-radar storylines heading into tonight’s game between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Clippers.

 

L.A. REUNION

Former Celtics teammates and Tacoma, Washington natives Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley are back together -- sort of. 
 
Both were part of deals at the trade deadline, with Thomas being shipped out to the Los Angeles Lakers while Bradley now plays for the Los Angeles Clippers. 
 
Bradley said he has had conversations with his good friend/former teammate since the two were moved to teams in Los Angeles. 
 
In their conversations, Bradley has tried to remain upbeat with Thomas, who has come under heavy criticism in several circles. The negative vibe surrounding Thomas was, in part, a factor in the Cavs trading him. 
 
“All the negative press, all the bad things people are saying about him . . . I tell him everything happens for a reason and go out there and do what Isaiah Thomas does and that’s playing with confidence and helping his team win games,” Bradley said. 

TERRY ROZIER

One of the bigger influences on Terry Rozier since he has been in the NBA, has been Avery Bradley. When the two were teammates for the Celtics, Rozier would often turn to Bradley for advice as well as on-the-floor tips. Well Rozier has taken that advice and used it to become one of the more valuable role players off the Celtics bench this season. 
 
“This game is all about opportunity and confidence,” Bradley said. “So Terry is getting a great opportunity and he has confidence when he’s out there playing basketball. I’m happy for him. He’s definitely a guy that works hard and works on his game and now it’s paying off.”

TURNOVER A NEW LEAF

Boston is turning the ball over 13.9 times per game which ranks 12th in the NBA. Not bad . . . until you compare it to previous turnover numbers and rankings under Brad Stevens. Since Stevens’ rookie season, when the Celtics’ turnover average (15.3) ranked 27th in the NBA, Boston has consistently been a top-10 or borderline top-10 team in fewest turnovers committed per game. Having lost three of their last four games, Boston has averaged 14.6 turnovers, which ranks 25th in the league during that span. 

MONTREZL HARRELL

One of the more pleasant surprises for the Clippers this season has been the play of Montrezl Harrell, particularly his scoring around the rim on post-up plays. 

The 24-year-old forward has averaged 9.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game while playing 15.4 minutes per game. 
 
“He’s a great example, every year you talk about guys accepting their role and trying to be a star in their role. He’s a perfect example,” Rivers said. “Early on he was trying to find his way. And now he knows exactly what he needs to do. He’s been amazing.
 
Rivers added, “One of the things I didn’t know about him, was I didn’t know he was that good on the post. Last year in Houston, I don’t ever remember them throwing post passes to him. I didn’t go into the season thinking about it because I never seen it. You saw it in practice and you’re thinking, are our guys bad post players on defense? And you realize he’s just good on the post.”
 
In his last five games, Harrell has shot 71.1 percent (27-for-38) from the field. 

HORFORD IMPACT

Al Horford doesn’t score nearly as much as some fans (and media members) would like to see. But there’s no denying good things tend to happen for the Celtics when he’s on the floor. This season, Boston has an offensive rating of 106.9 when the five-time All-Star is on the floor. That number drops to 100.0 when’s off the court. The 6.9 differential is tops among all Celtics players this season. 
 

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New All-Star format a success, but one tweak could make it even better

New All-Star format a success, but one tweak could make it even better

LOS ANGELES – Both players and coaches involved with Sunday’s All-Star game like the new format, but will surely look to tweak a couple of things.

Among the more likely changes will be the process involved in not just selecting the team, but making the selections known to the public. 

Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan has an idea, one that’s shared by some players, media and maybe most important, NBA fans. 

“Televise it,” DeRozan said. “Give the people what they want to see. I think everybody wants to see it. At the end of the day every single person that gets picked, you are an All-Star, so it doesn’t matter where you really go, so I think televise it.”

MORE - Irving, Horford give seal of approval to All-Star changes

The new format involved their being two captains – LeBron James and Stephen Curry – who picked their respective teams from the 22 remaining All-Stars regardless of conference affiliation. 

The NBA also increased the amount of money given to each player on the winning team - $100,000 – while the losing team members each received $25,000.

Regardless of what the changes may be going forward, it’s clear that players see this new format as the blueprint for how All-Star games should be structured going forward.

“This kind of changed the culture of it a lot, for the better,” said Minnesota’s Jimmy Butler. “It’s only going to get more and more competitive because guys see how it was for the last five minutes of that game. Everybody wants to compete.”

Here are five takeaways from the 67th NBA All-Star game with Team LeBron defeating Team Steph 148-145. 

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Kyrie Irving

There were others who scored more, had more assists and certainly grabbed more rebounds than Kyrie Irving. But one of the more telling developments in the game was how Irving returned to the game in the fourth down 10 points, and didn’t leave until Team LeBron emerged with the win seven minutes and 16 seconds later. Even in an All-Star setting, Irving’s impact on winning stands out. Along with his 13 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, Team LeBron was a +16 when Irving was on the floor – tops among all All-Star starters. 

 

LeBron James

The calendar says he’s 33 years old. But other than that, there’s nothing about LeBron James that even remotely looks like his time as the best player on the planet will end anytime soon. In a game full of stars on the rise as well as established stalwarts such as himself, James totally crushed it Sunday night in walking away with his third All-Star game MVP trophy after a double-double of 29 points and 10 rebounds to go with eight assists.  

 

DeMar DeRozan

We know him as the king of the mid-range game. But as we saw on Sunday, DeRozan has a lot more offensive versatility that he’s capable of unleashing. He’s arguably the biggest reason why Toronto has the best record in the East right now. Playing for Team Steph, DeRozan tallied 21 points attacking the rim off the dribble and of course, knocking down mid-range jumpers

 

Jimmy Butler

A bit under the weather, Butler never set foot on the court to play. The league’s leader in minutes played this season (37.3), Butler wasn’t expected to play a ton of minutes anyway. Still, it would have been nice to see him out there even if it was for a minute or two. He’s one of the league’s best two-way players whose play has been instrumental to the Timberwolves looking very much like a playoff team this season. “I have to rest,” Butler said. “I have to rest my body up. This Timberwolves season is very, very important to me. I’ve got to make sure I’m ready to roll when I get back there.”

 

Joel Embiid

The ring leader of Philadelphia’s “Trust the Process” movement, Joel Embiid, was impressive in his All-Star debut. For Embiid, it’s one thing to believe you are one of the NBA’s best players. It’s an entirely different matter to step on the floor with the game’s best talent and validate yourself as one of the game’s best players.  “During the season, I thought I was a top-five or top-10 player in the league,” said Embiid who had 19 points and eight rebounds. “And before the game I wanted confirmation of it. I felt like I could hang with them.”

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Irving, Horford give seal of approval to All-Star changes

Irving, Horford give seal of approval to All-Star changes

LOS ANGELES -- Kyrie Irving and Al Horford were on different teams for the NBA's All-Star game pitting Team LeBron vs Team Steph, so somebody was coming back a loser.

But considering how competitive the game was for longer stretches than usual, both players came away feeling good in a relatively close All-Star game that ended with Team LeBron edging Team Steph, 148-145.

LeBron James led all scorers with 29 points along with 10 rebounds and 8 assists and walked away with Game MVP honors for the third time.

Irving, who played for Team LeBron, had a near double-double with 13 points and nine assists along with seven rebounds.

And Horford, who came off the bench for Team Steph, had six points and five rebounds along with two assists.  

“This was pretty fun,” Irving said. “I think that we showcased that tonight with an incredible competitive spirit. The game was kind of getting away, but I think a few of us took it a little personal that we wanted to keep the game still competitive and at a high level. Fans and everyone across so many different countries want to see the best players in the world showcase their talent.”

Horford echoed similar sentiments about the game, which had a different format this year. LeBron James and Stephen Curry picked the two teams from the 22-player pool of players from both the Eastern and Western Conferences.

“Early, guys were making [defensive] plays,” Horford said. “Guys were making a point, they weren’t going to let it be a dunk fest.

Horford added, “Even last year and the year before, there was a lot of heat on how bad the game was. I felt like this game was, it was good.”

Irving, a five-time All-Star, also acknowledged how he and some of the players wanted to change the perception of the All-Star Game as being nothing more than a glorified lay-up line.

“I think we all took it kind of personal,” Irving said. “Individually we wanted to come out and be competitive. Last year it was (192-182), that’s just not as fun as communicating with guys that you don’t necessarily play with every single day, bouncing ideas off in the time-outs. It’s just that competitive fire that we all share.”

And then there’s the payday for winning.

Not only will various charities benefit from the game -- LeBron James’ charity of choice gets $350,000 because his team won and Steph Curry’s charity of choice gets $150,000 -- but the players on the winning team get a pretty nice check as well.

The winning team members each get $100,000 while the players on the losing team come away with $25,000.

“There was something that, something that we could look forward to if we got the win,” Irving acknowledged. “You know, they’ll probably bring up the cash prize, but . . . $100,000 to $25,000, I think everybody in this room would be doing the same things we were doing.”

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