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 pick-and-roll never happened, and Hayward instead elected to take advantage of the six-inch height advantage he possessed over Bradley. Fortunately for the Celtics, Bradley had anticipated this might happen and embraced the challenge of defending the opposing team’s star in a one-point game with less than 30 seconds to play.
So the 6-foot-2 Bradley offered resistance when 6-foot-8 Hayward started backing him down toward the blocks. Bradley stayed close to Hayward’s right hand, figuring it was his best chance to contest if Hayward went up. A little shoulder fake created a bit of separation, but Bradley recovered and leaped high enough to not only contest, but completely smother the turnaround shot attempt.
“He timed it really well,” Hayward admitted. “It was a good play.”
Seemingly surprised by the block, Hayward fumbled the ball as it caromed back at him. Crowder corralled the fumble and fed Bradley, who got fouled going up the court, and the Celtics hung on for a 100-95 triumph over the Jazz at TD Garden.
“I love to take that challenge, to be able to get a stop for our team, because I want to win the game that bad,” Bradley said. “I’ll guard anybody for my team.
To make that block on a player of equal height would be remarkable because of the precision and timing required to do so without fouling or even giving the appearance of a foul.
But to make that block on a player with a 6-inch height advantage is flat-out absurd. And before you give me the Billy Hoyle retort, let’s note that Gordon Hayward has a 30+ inch vertical. I can only echo the comments of our general manager:
I just expect Avery to get stops. He’s the best perimeter defender in the league.
— Danny Ainge (@danielrainge) March 1, 2016
Let’s also credit Brad Stevens for switching AB onto Hayward for that possession. Brad noticed Hayward had been taking the ball to the basket on the previous possessions and wanted Bradley’s quickness to guard against that.
Fun fact: Boston now 17-6 in last 23. I think that’s good.
Image courtesy Boston Herald/Fun fact courtesy Gary Washburn
On Page 2, Jordan Mickey was ready.
Brad Stevens texted Jordan Mickey yesterday with what qualifies as a high alert — “Be ready to go any time.”
But the young rim protector did indeed influence the game, getting blocks on Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack, and also getting his hand on a third shot that deflected through the basket. He also had three points, three rebounds, and would appear to be in line for a larger role over the last 21 games of the regular season.
“I just thought we needed a boost and I thought that every time we put him in he’s blocked a shot and came up with some loose balls,” Stevens said. “He was in Maine for a long time and then he had the ankle, so he’s probably not as up to speed as he needs to be on some things that we’ll get him up to speed on as he continues to be with us more and more. But hey, we’re not overly deep at the big spot without Kelly (Olynyk). I texted him because it could be any time that those guys have to contribute and help us win the game.”
Mickey had played a total of 13 NBA minutes prior to last night, virtually all of it in garbage time. This time the coach’s call was a little different.
“You know, I got the text early this morning and I read it about 10 times before I even got here,” said Mickey. “I was just trying to prepare myself to be ready for the opportunity and you never know when you are going to be able to get in or when you are going to get that opportunity. It happened to be kind of early in the night and I was excited about it.
I have no idea where the minutes will come from but I want more Jordan Mickey.
Also glad to see I’m not the only one who can get the most out of 7 minutes.
And finally, stubborn Rondo surfaces in Sacramento.
The Oklahoma City Thunder grabbed two technical foul free throws with 1.2 seconds left in the half at Sacramento tonight when Rajon Rondo found himself incapable of handling the ball for an inbounds play—twice.
Rondo refused to take the basketball from an official, and then again refused after Kevin Durant’s made free throw—which earned Durant another shot at the line to turn what would have been a 59-53 halftime score to a 61-53 eventual tally at the intermission.
Rondo then rebooted, went after an official, and had to be pulled away by DeMarcus Cousins. Weird stuff.
Pick up the damn ball, you jackass. You know there’s a problem when DeMarcus Cousins is the voice of reason.
The rest of the links
Herald – Celtics rock on, beat Jazz | Stevens success no surprise to ex players | CSNNE- Effort in closing seconds seals win | Mass Live – IT snubs Gary Tanguay | Globe – Amir’s work down low, put Celtics on top | Bradley, Celtics reject Jazz