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.
The Bulls as a team are shooting just 38.6 percent (17 of 44) against Bradley through five postseason games. Butler, who shot 45.5 percent during the regular season, is shooting just 37 percent (10 of 27) when Bradley is the primary defender this series, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
In fact, if you zoom in on Boston’s three wins since falling into an 0-2 hole, Bradley has held Butler to 6-of-17 shooting (35.3 percent). During Boston’s Game 5 win on Friday, Bradley scored a postseason career-high 24 points all while limiting Butler to 2 points on 1-of-5 shooting with a turnover.
Avery Bradley is that brand of dependable in which he can be appreciated and taken for granted at once.
On many nights he is the Celtics’ best all-around player. Some nights – such as when he’s refusing to yield a step to Kyrie Irving with the game on the line or attaching himself to Steph Curry no matter how many screens try to peel him off – we remember to salute him after a job well-done yet again.
Other nights – when Isaiah Thomas drops 20 in the fourth quarter, or a refugee from the bench like Gerald Green steals the show – it can be easy to allow his steadiness to become an afterthought. He is a rock, constant and consistent on a roster with a half-dozen regulars whose contributions from game-to-game vary wildly.
Boston Globe — Let’s not overlook the contributions of Avery Bradley
I know that plenty of words (and God-like images– thanks, KWAPT) have been spilled on the impact of Avery Bradley, but I think it’s safe to say that the Celtics may be facing elimination tonight if it’s not for the longest-tenured Celtic’s performance over the last two games.
The defense, we’ve come to expect that. When healthy, I don’t think there’s a better on-ball defender in the league. Avery Bradley’s footwork when locked onto an all-world offensive player like Kyrie or a bigger Jimmy Butler is one of my favorite things to watch on a basketball court. It’s a ballet on hardwood (I sat through a lot of younger sister dance recitals, so consider me an expert on the subject).
What all Celtics fans will take as a bonus, and again, a major reason why the Cs turned this series, is a complete offensive game. An ATO called by Stevens to bring AB around a few screens for a 20-footer? A safe bet. AB waiting in the corner until exploding towards the basket to receive a well-timed pass for a lay-up? Is there a better bet from the top of the key for 3-points outside of Isaiah Thomas on the roster? Probably not.
Look, if the Cs get a top-two pick in the draft, there’s a fair chance they take one of the two “sure-thing” point guards. That means someone gets squeezed off this roster, unless the Cs go even smaller than they’re already going. Bradley is certainly a candidate. But after watching the Cs lose in 6 last season to the Hawks with an injured AB and seeing them bounce back in this series with Bradley leading the charge makes you realize how difficult some of these roster decisions may be.
Back to the present, though, let’s hope Bradley can make life miserable for Jimmy Butler again tonight. Anything on the offensive end is an additional gift.
On page 2, let’s appreciate Amir Johnson, too
“Total stud, total team guy,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said Thursday before practice. “I told him this is what we’re planning on doing. He said, ‘I understand.’ And he’s been the biggest cheerleader, the best guy. He’s been exactly what Amir’s always been.
“Amir is a really good player and his value is even more so because of the way he makes others around him better when he plays with them. But also when he’s just on their bench and on their team. He’s a positive guy. I admire Amir for his ability to stay positive through anything. It’s a really admirable quality.”
I was lucky enough to attend Wednesday night’s game five in my mom’s boss’ seats (I get a handful of games a year in those loge seats in section 12), which have a great view of the Celtics’ bench. During the Cs introductions, you know who was dancing around more than anyone, doling out big hugs and high 5s? Amir Johnson. The guy who, up until a week ago, was receiving those high 5s and hugs while hearing his name announced by Eddie Paladino all season.
Amir deserved to be benched. He isn’t strong enough to deal with Robin Lopez and isn’t quick enough to deal with, well, anyone in this series. I’m not in any way calling Johnson a bust, or saying his career is over — though this may do it for him in green — but for now, at least, he shouldn’t be playing and he isn’t. But whatever I noticed briefly during introductions in game five, Stevens and his Celtics teammates have known all along: Amir Johnson is the ultimate team guy.
Whether he’s on the pine or the court, hopefully Johnson can keep dancing in warm-ups through the month of May.
- Isaiah Thomas will fly home to Tacoma on Saturday to attend the funeral for his sister, Chynna. Adam Himmelsbach includes a really nice tribute to IT’s little sister as told by Thomas’ close friend from home.
- In case there was some doubt he would mutate into the real Wolverine (I had some), Rajon Rondo is out for game 6
- Though Steve Bulpett warns that going to a game 7 gives Rondo that one more chance to pull a Willis Reed– entering the game through the stands after beating a 5-year old in Connect Four and tripping a senior citizen
- Imagine what could happen tonight if the Celtics just hit their open shots…
- From Bleacher Report… the Celtics set records from the free throw line on Wednesday
- For a look at the Bulls, The Ringer’s Rodger Sherman wonders if Chicago has completely lost its cohesion
- Mark Murphy at the Herald on why the Cs have enjoyed road-trippin’