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.
Pierce, 36, isn’t exactly eager to return to Boston.
“It’s definitely gonna be a lot different when I get into the Garden, the first time I go to Boston,” Pierce said. “Because you’ve played your entire career there, made so many friends, so it’s definitely gonna be emotional.
“I don’t know if I’m looking forward to it, because I already know I’m going to shed a tear or two. But it’s the business. I’m here in Brooklyn now and I wish everybody there good luck.”
Chuck called it “strange,” and I think that’s a pretty good word for watching Paul Pierce out there last night. He wasn’t exactly giving the cliché 110% against his former team, probably because it was just a preseason game and he was just trying to work with his teammates more. He was definitely more aggressive on the boards and with the passing, assuming his usual non-Rondo point-forward role, though you have to replace non-Rondo with non-Williams now (he’s out with an ankle injury).
But it was weird. It messed with your head a little. It was… what’s the word I’m looking for, Courtney Lee?
“Different,” Courtney Lee said. “Paul came over here before the game. He was a little different. You could tell he misses it. He’s been a Celtic for the last 15 years, so it’s going to affect him. He grew up in Boston. That’s where he went from a young boy to a grown man, playing in that arena.”
Oh, and nice job, Mr. Lee, snapping out of your shooting funk last night just when I was finally giving in to the though that you are who you are, and I should stop having higher expectations. Now I’m all tantalized by the though of you burying a bunch of three’s in a row to get the C’s back into the game.
Anyway, back to Pierce. I don’t want to waste too much energy on last night’s game because there’s a much bigger thing happening in January that is really going to screw with our minds.
Related links: Herald: Pierce feels out new situation | Globe: Pierce faces former team for first time | CSNNE: Pierce sees bright future for C’s | Pierce visits Celtics locker room before the game | ESPN Boston: Pierce balances past and present | WEEI: Paul Pierce’s ugly Celtics reunion
Page 2: Avery Bradley, shutdown cornerback?
NEW YORK — Opposing point guards might catch a slight break this season. The Boston Celtics plan to utilize Avery Bradley‘s hounding defense like a football team might operate with a shutdown cornerback.
For the second straight game, the Celtics started Bradley defending the opposing team’s shooting guard (this time Joe Johnson) in hopes that sacrificing some on-ball pressure would allow Bradley to negate a bigger scoring threat. Despite being shifted outside his comfort zone, Bradley is embracing the idea of matching up against the other team’s top offensive guard.
“I love to take that challenge,” Bradley said. “I love the competition.”
Added Bradley, “I was always on the ball last year, so I could get time off the shot clock. But this year they want me to calm down a little bit more, not be so restless on defense, I guess you can say, going for steals. They want me to be disciplined and pick my spots every now and then, pick up full court [occasionally], but get back and play angles. They are just trying to make me into a great team defender, as well as an individual defender.”
It’s an interesting strategy, and one that is very Belichickian. Take away their biggest strength, and force them to beat you with a weakness.
Of course, that doesn’t mean much when the Celtics face Miami or Oklahoma City. As much as I love Bradley, he’s not going to suddenly grow six inches and be effective against LeBron or Durant. But I digress…
I’ve personally been a fan of the “Bradley on the ball” defensive strategy, especially with Rondo in the backcourt alongside him. If you want someone to play the angles, Rondo’s your guy. If you want someone to climb into someone’s shorts and defend him close enough to return with a full report of his pregame meal, then you’re turning to Bradley. And Brad Stevens has always talked about putting people in the position to do what they do best.
But the Celtics don’t have Rondo right now, so the Stevens staff has to either come up with a universal plan for this team that works no matter who’s in or out of the line up, or they have to come up with two plans; one that makes due without Rondo and his very unique skill set, and one that adds Rondo and puts the rest of the guys into positional orbit around him.
I think Stevens’ mind will be a little blown once he sees what a fully healthy Rondo can do up close. Maybe I’m biased, or maybe I’m just doing the naturally human thing and defending my already determined conclusion, but I still think the best backcourt option is Rondo and Bradley 1-2 on offense, and 2-1 on defense. Besides the obvious fact that Rondo is one of the league’s best point guards, there is the obvious fact that Bradley is better off the ball. And defensively, I want Bradley reducing opposing point guard to tears, and not letting them set up any sort of cohesive offense. On top of everything I’ve said about the individuals in this section, it’s truly the best team defensive strategy for AB, because it saves the rest of the guys from having to go through too many rotations. The less this group has to do, the better.
They’re not going to be very good, so the more great individual things that can be done to mask that, the better.
We can say what we want about Jeff Green… but he’s good for one of these almost every game
The rest of the links:
Globe: Highlights: Nets slip past Celtics | CSNNE: Lee puts in best performance of the preseason in loss | Brooks looking to work his way up the depth chart | ESPN Boston: Kidd’s adjustment tougher than Stevens