Sunday, April 29, 2012

Avery Bradley the Key to the Celtics' Playoff Hopes?

At the beginning of the 2011-12 NBA season, if you told me that Avery Bradley would be the most important Boston Celtic in the playoffs, we would have laughed pretty hard.  At the beginning of the season, he was seeing the same amount of time as Keyon Dooling and JaJuan Johnson.  That is, he was not really seeing that much time.  As the season wore on, and Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce were all battling injuries, Bradley was relied on more and more.  Eventually, Allen came back as the sixth man since Bradley was playing so well.

Now, Bradley will be relied upon as the stopper.  In the first series, he will be responsible for stopping Joe Johnson or Jeff Teague.  Ray Allen is only a 50-50 possibility to even play in this series, much less play significant time.  Bradley will be required to continue his 16.3 PPG that he has been demonstrating over the last six weeks.

"I think the Celtics are going to win 3 games and the Hawks are going to win 4." C tells me before the game starts.  When I tell him that Bradley could be the key to the Celtics' series, he asks me point blank "What does Avery Bradley have to do with it?"  Maybe he has a perception problem.  Meaning the average fan perceives Bradley to suck.

G doesn't even know Bradley's name.  "Why do you like "what's his name," Dad?"  Yes, definitely a perception problem.  Let's watch the game and find out.

Well the First Quarter did not go very well. The Hawks fly off the handle in rushing out to a quick 20-6 lead.  Even Tommy Heinsohn is predicting the Hawks to 200 points in this game.  The Celtics come back toward the end of the Quarter and are only down 31-18.  The boys are both calling for Ray Allen to come back for the Celtics.  

The Second Quarter sees the Hawks extend their lead over the Celtics.  Bradley's hustle does lead to a flagrant foul call against Jason Collins, but other than that, the Celtics look a little old and slow.  They make a little run toward the end of the half, but go to the locker room trailing by 14.  Rondo leads the Celtics with 12, while Paul Pierce has 9.  You know things are bad when Donny Marshall is calling you out. 

The Third Quarter is more of the same.  No one can shoot!  Right now they are shooting 35% for the game, including 0-8 from the three point stripe as they fall behind by 19 points.  They aren't blocking out, they aren't playing ferocious defense.  Pierce continues to take ill-advised shots.  AHHHHH!  They do cut the lead to 12 to start the Fourth Quarter. 

"Johnson treated Garnett like he was a burglar in his kitchen."  That about sums up the Fourth Quarter.  The Celtics were generally mugged out there, but nonetheless made it a close game at the end.  Well at least until Rajon Rondo gets thrown out of the game for bumping the referee.  I don't think he will be playing Game 2, either.  Bradley was generally absent from Game 1.

Well, we're down 1-0.  Onto Game 2.  Let's get them.  We need to take Game 2 and swing homecourt in our favor.

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