Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
With 21 games still left before the ones that really count, Brad Stevens had his hopes for this night in perspective. Just as this win doesn’t mean the Celtics are anything resembling a favorite should these teams meet again in spring, so did a loss not condemn them.
The coach wasn’t so concerned with the result.
“I just wanted to play with a real purpose possession to possession, and maximize as many of those as possible,” he said, identifying that which the Celts did not do in a homely 16-point home loss to Atlanta Monday. “Let the chips fall where they may. We did a better job with that tonight than we have in a lot of games this year, which is required when you play a team of this caliber. And hopefully we can keep doing that when we go on the road.
“The best part of it was we came in, we got together this afternoon, quickly talked about a plan of attack on both ends, and executed it — and after a day off after a back-to-back. So I think that that’s a really good sign, because we played with a real purpose. And I think that you have to play with a real purpose as you get further along. And the haphazard possessions that we had the other night, we had very, very few of those tonight.”
So pleased was Stevens that he could have expected even a reverse of the final score.
“I felt really good about how we were playing all the way through,” he said. “And then the end of the game, you know if Kyrie Irving throws in a couple hook shots and we miss a couple, it is what it is. But that was the most encouraging part, was we just played with the right poise and purpose.”
Boston Herald — Let’s keep this great Celtics win in perspective, folks
Nothing like a scandalous Brad Stevens quote, huh? But this is what makes him so good and allows this team to improve and prove resilient after a string of lackluster performances. The win was great, but all it takes is a three by newly acquired Deron Williams to flip the result. That would have been disappointing, but the big relief was the energy and crispness with which the Celtics played last night.
Actually getting the win, of course, shouldn’t be lost. The big knock on this Celtics team in the first few months was a lack of signature wins. Kevin Love or no Kevin Love, this one qualifies. The Cs will now have an opportunity to get a few more on the west coast.
On page 2, AB’s lockdown D a sight for sore eyes
The decision was made to tack on a few extra minutes to Avery Bradley’s allotted court time on Wednesday night.
And did it ever come in handy.
Because for all that Boston did well in keeping pace with the Cleveland Cavaliers, it was Bradley’s defense and timely shot-making in the closing minutes that ultimately lifted Boston to a 103-99 victory over the defending NBA champions.
Bradley’s job was to make life as tough as possible in the closing seconds on Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving who had 24 points on 9-for-15 shooting when Bradley entered the game.
Irving missed three of his four shot attempts and scored just four more points after Bradley re-entered the game in the fourth.
Everyone hates hearing the logic that often appears when a player returns from injury mid-season “well, they didn’t make any trades, but getting player x back from injury is like a trade in and of itself,” but the addition of Avery Bradley in a big game is noticeable and impactful.
Over the last few months, with the Celtics playing good ball in his absence, rumblings have surfaced that the Celtics could trade Bradley (heck, even for another first rounder) and not skip a beat. But the way Bradley defended Kyrie Irving on the Cavs’ last position is why he’s so valuable. Marcus Smart plays defense like a pitbull, Bradley’s on-ball D is more of an art-form. Re-watch that possession and see the dance Bradley does with his feet. His lateral movement to stay lock-step with Irving is a thing of beauty.
That possession was vintage AB, and as he knocks off more rust, we should see more of it.
Boston Herald — Avery Bradley clutch at both ends of the floor
And finally, “nobody holds me in check”
Although maybe not as loud a performance, at least not by his lofty, King in the Fourth standards, Boston Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas made a series of key, late-game plays Wednesday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers. When a reporter asked Thomas what Cleveland did to keep him in check, a ruffled Thomas interrupted the question for a clarification.
“Nobody holds me in check,” Thomas said after his 31-point, five-assist effort in a 103-99 triumph over the Eastern Conference-leading Cavaliers at a rollicking TD Garden.
“I made plays,” he said. “I average 30 points for a reason.”
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