Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
With 10:50 left in the third quarter Friday, Bradley was in severe pain after being fouled. His left shoulder had been jolted again from its preferred place of residence, and he was moving toward the Celtics bench in full grimace.
He got himself together enough to shoot the free throws while Doc Rivers sent Ray Allen to the scorer’s table to replace him at the next whistle.
Then, after missing the first free throw and making the second, Avery Bradley ran back on defense. He signaled that he was all right, and Allen was summoned back to the pine. The substitution was made a minute and a half later, but Bradley had made another statement with his actions.
“Eddie (Lacerte, the trainer) said it kind of slipped back in, so we let him keep playing,” Rivers said. “But he’s hurting. There’s no doubt.”
“It’s motivational,” said (Keyon Dooling) the veteran guard. “The kid is tough as nails, and he’s really a key component to what we do. We appreciate and we respect what he brings to our team. We need that.
It's not healthy to have one's shoulder separate this frequently, is it? At some point the Celtics medical staff will shut down Avery Bradley out of fear of long term damage, right? Or maybe he'll develop the trick Mel Gibson used in Lethal Weapon.
According to Steve Bulpett, Bradley's plus/minus is ridiculous:
He is a plus-35 in the series, and that includes Game 2 when the Celts lost by one yet were 18 points ahead in the 20:14 that Bradley was on the court.
The Celtics lost by nine on Friday, but they were a plus-12 in Bradley’s 27:24 of playing time.
The Celtics might be able to squeak by Philly without Bradley dominating on defense, but (I hate to put the cart before the horse) they will need it down the road. I'd love to see him mano a mano with Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook.
On Page 2, is the Celtics defense to blame for the Game 4 meltdown?
According to ESPN Stats & Info, the 76ers shot 50 percent from the floor (11-of-22) against Boston's half-court defense in the fourth quarter, including 3-of-5 beyond the 3-point stripe. After averaging a mere 0.57 points per play in half-court situations over the first three quarters while shooting just 25 percent and turning the ball over eight times, the Sixers averaged a whopping 1.16 points per play in the half-court set in the fourth quarter. They scored 29 of their 33 fourth-quarter points in half-court sets, and didn't turn the ball over at all.
It's really hard to argue against those stats, but… the Celtics can't rely on their defense to win every game, can they?
Getting buckets in crunch time also puts a lot of pressure on the opponents. A player might be a bit tighter taking a jumper with his team tied or down a few points. Scoring also deflates the crowd and regains momentum.
The rest of the links:
ESPN Boston – Blame game: Defense at fault? | Working for the weekend | Celtics and player tracking data | Rondo's King of the Rock | WEEI – Celtics blow opportunity to take control | Globe – Sixers wanted it more | Williams becomes a threat | Thunder run down Lakers | Herald – Failure to get stops at heart of Game 4 | Lavoy Allen tunes out talk, stands tall | Celtics lament latest failure to put opponent away | CSNNE – Philly beat Celtics in very un-Sixer like way |