Bruins

Sixers knew what to expect against Bradley

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Sixers knew what to expect against Bradley

BOSTON -- Unlike many players in the NBA, Philadelphia 76ers guards Evan Turner and Jrue Holiday were very familiar with Avery Bradley when he entered the NBA last season.

Turner was the second overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, in which the Boston Celtics selected Bradley at the 19th spot. Holiday, 21, is the same age as Bradley and knew him from high school and college basketball circuits.

Last year the Sixers guards faced off against a Celtics backcourt of Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen as Bradley rode the bench for most of his rookie campaign. Late this season, Bradley has been moved to the starting lineup in place of Allen. While many opponents are still getting to know Bradley in a significant role, Holiday and Turner knew what to expect on Sunday against the Celtics.

With Ray, you have one of the best three-point shooters of all time on the court, Turner told CSNNE.com prior to the Celtics 103-79 victory. But the thing about Avery is, he plays hard and also picks up the tempo. His defense is really, really, really great so thats hard to really match up against. But the efforts not gone. You might lack in inches and size-wise, but Bradley plays with a big heart and makes some big plays.

Bradley scored 18 points (6-12 FG) with five assists, four rebounds, and one steal in 35 minutes during his 18th start of the season (he filled in for Rajon Rondo earlier in the season). Allen dropped 10 points (4-9 FG, 2-6 3PG) and two assists in 28 minutes in his third game off the bench.

I think Ray does bring more of a scoring aspect when hes on the floor and kind of spaces everybody, said Holiday. Everybody has to kind of key in on Ray Allen because he hits those shots.

But Avery Bradley, he just brings a lot of intensity, especially on defense. Hes a really good defensive player and he definitely gets a lot of stops which can lead to a lot of scoring. He kind of nags you. Its like everywhere you turn, hes just kind of there. Some people kind of lose sight of their man. Hes just kind of always there.

Both Holiday and Turner struggled offensively against Celtics guards Allen, Bradley, and Rondo for the majority of the game. Turner scored 10 points (3-6 FG) and Holiday contributed 8 (4-10 FG). They expected Bradley to test them on defense, and he did.

I knew he played tough, said Turner. When you watched him play at (the University of) Texas, he always played tough, he always played hard, and he could get the job done. I think with more and more opportunities he could turn into a better player. I just knew he gave one hundred percent out there and he could do a little bit of everything. The most impressive thing was his defense.

Morning Skate: Cheers for Boyle as he returns to practice with Devils

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Morning Skate: Cheers for Boyle as he returns to practice with Devils

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while determined to go see Foo Fighters at Fenway Park this time around. 
 
-- In the great news department, Hingham native Brian Boyle hears cheers at practice as he returns to work for the New Jersey Devils after his cancer diagnosis. Boyle might be wearing a Devils uniform, but he knows he has all of Boston in his corner along with many, many other corners of the hockey world. 

-- There is no panic with the Maple Leafs over the slow start for Mitch Marner, who has been dropped to the fourth line in the early going.
 
-- Wellesley native Chris Wagner is beginning to get recognized for his big hits and physical play with the Anaheim Ducks

-- Senators prospect and Massachusetts native Joey Daccord makes an unbelievable game-saving stop for his college team. 

-- For something completely different: Greg Nicotero talks about the Walking Dead premiere, and a character thought dead that might actually still be alive.
 

'Forgotten man' David Harris plays key role in win over Falcons

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'Forgotten man' David Harris plays key role in win over Falcons

For the first six weeks of the season, Patriots veteran linebacker David Harris was little more than an insurance policy.

At $1.25 million guaranteed this season, he was one of the pricer policies on the team, but his playing time told the story of where he stood on Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia's depth chart. His seven total defensive snaps slotted him in behind Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts and Dont'a Hightower among off-the-ball 'backers. 

So when Harris saw 19 snaps -- making three tackles in the process -- against the Falcons and their speedy offensive weapons on Sunday night, it caught our attention. Here are a few of the elements that came into play, leading to Harris' increase in playing time. 

1) Injuries to other Patriots linebackers created an opening for Harris. Roberts was announced as inactive prior to kickoff due to an ankle injury. Later in the night, Hightower suffered a shoulder injury that knocked him from action. That left Van Noy, Harris and Marquis Flowers as the team's linebackers in uniform. Harris got the nod over Flowers, who's primarily a special-teamer.

2) Falcons personnel called for the Patriots to use their base defense at times. The game opened with the Falcons going with a two-back set, encouraging Belichick to go with bigger personnel. The Patriots didn't have to stick with their regular group because the Falcons used primarily one-back sets over the course of the night, But even with Hightower healthy and available, what happened early in the game proved that there were certain packages that called for Harris to be on the field. He saw one early, picking up his first start as a member of the Patriots. 

3) The work Harris has put in during practices and off the field allowed the Patriots coaching staff to trust him when he was called upon. Belichick has lauded Harris all season for his professionalism, and on Monday morning he continued to heap praise on the 33-year-old. "As always, I think David works hard and is very well prepared and did all of the right things that we would want him to do from an assignment standpoint," Belichick said. "He gave us some good plays, was in on a few plays. Again, handled the communication in the front well. We’ll see if we can build on it. We’ve got a lot of good play from a number of guys and he’s certainly part of that group."