Avery Bradley marvels at Celtics’ rise to top of Eastern Conference

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Avery Bradley marvels at Celtics’ rise to top of Eastern Conference

Post by bobheckler on Fri Apr 14, 2017 12:53 pm

http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/celtics/2017/04/avery_bradley_marvels_at_celtics_rise_to_top_of_eastern_conference



Avery Bradley marvels at Celtics’ rise to top of Eastern Conference




Mark Murphy


Friday, April 14, 2017





Credit: Herald file photo
Avery Bradley



Avery Bradley calls it the longest summer of his career, a time of doubt he had never experienced before as a Celtic.

Brad Stevens had just completed his first season with a team that won 25 games. Nineteen players cycled through the roster that season — think of Jordan Crawford at point guard, noted glue guy Keith Bogans as an angry teammate, and the ghost of Vitor Faverani — and nobody knew where this was going.

“It was different man, hard for all of us,” Bradley says now. “We had our days when we were all like, what the heck is going on? We won what, 25 games? That’s a rough year, man, that was my first long summer. My first and only. The only year I didn’t make the playoffs.”

The Celtics won 40 games in Stevens’ second year, 48 in the third, and now 53.

The Celtics coach goes into his third straight year looking for a way to get past the first round, this time with the top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference, and another first-round loss would be the first serious blemish of Stevens’ career.
But there’s something about breaking that 50-win barrier that hits Bradley now.

“That’s an accomplishment, for any team to get 50 wins,” he said. “An outstanding season is 60. But 50, that means you’re on your way to the kind of season that every team dreams of having. Usually if you have 60, that means you’re one or two in your conference.

“It’s a big goal, and I’m pretty sure he’s had that goal set. We’ve played well this year, and Brad has done an even better job.”

As process-driven as he is, though, Stevens never put a number on the improvement he wanted to see.

“No. I thought we were going to try and do our jobs to the best of our ability every day, stick to a process of focusing on growth and making sure we were getting better, and let the chips fall where they may,” said the Celtics coach. “I’ve always thought you start with a baseline of what is your competitive makeup as a team, and then it’s how you prepare. The results are a function of all those more important things.”

So Stevens looked for improvement in other ways, with the first major step coming at the 2015 trade deadline in the form of Isaiah Thomas.

“The end of that second year, even before the All-Star break, we started to win a couple of close games on the road during a West Coast trip, we had eked one out in Portland on an Evan Turner shot, we won in Denver on a back-to-back, played really well in Golden State, won in Utah, and all of a sudden I thought we were starting to build a little bit of belief,” Stevens said.

“That’s so important, because when you get down and you’re losing, and guys are making moves, it feels like guys are constantly shuttling in and out, it’s hard to hold any sense of belief. Once that happened, and we actually became a little more stable, that was big for us.”

The climb that followed was steady, albeit with two straight years of early playoff exits. But Bradley took heart in the improvement in the win column each year.

“It’s hard, takes a lot of sacrifice, a lot of believing in the process,” Bradley said. “Me personally, being here since Day 1, you don’t know what to expect. All you can do is work hard, do your role and hope for the best. We’ve been fortunate to have a great group of guys.”

That doesn’t mean peace. Thomas, sometimes frustrated with his use by Stevens, spoke out twice this year. Marcus Smart, late in a loss in Washington, argued on the bench with two assistants before leaving early for the locker room, where he punched a hole in the wall.

“One of the things about teams — we’ve seen it a couple of times this year — is that tensions have risen, or there’s been moments where guys are frustrated, and that’s part of it,” Stevens said. “That’s something I’ve always believed, you grow through those things. Those frustrations and tension expedites your growth.”


This year that growth was enough to push the Celtics over 50 wins.

“It’s a mix — not only what Brad wants, but what we want as well,” Bradley said. “We have to come together as a group and figure out what we want to get out of a season, every single season.

“We have common goals. Brad wants us all to be professionals, and Brad wants the same thing. We might even want a little bit more, and expect more out of each other. At the end of the day we’re the ones on the floor.”




bob



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Re: Avery Bradley marvels at Celtics’ rise to top of Eastern Conference

Post by beat on Fri Apr 14, 2017 2:02 pm

it comes down to just one thing for me....virtually NO roster turnover during the entire season and not a lot from last season either.

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Re: Avery Bradley marvels at Celtics’ rise to top of Eastern Conference

Post by swish on Fri Apr 14, 2017 5:06 pm

Big reason they are in 1st place - Major underachievement by the Cavs and Raptors

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Re: Avery Bradley marvels at Celtics’ rise to top of Eastern Conference

Post by bobheckler on Fri Apr 14, 2017 6:33 pm

swish wrote:Big reason they are in 1st place - Major underachievement by the Cavs and Raptors  

 swish


Swish,

Toronto won 48 games three years ago, 49 games two years ago, 56 games last year and 51 games this year.  Maybe the reason why they look like they underachieved this year is because they overachieved with 56 wins and everybody incorrectly assumed that wasn't their ceiling or, at least, was their norm.  Maybe, with the personnel they have 52 is as high as we should expect and they were exceedingly those expectations with 56?


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Re: Avery Bradley marvels at Celtics’ rise to top of Eastern Conference

Post by swish on Fri Apr 14, 2017 6:40 pm

bobheckler wrote:
swish wrote:Big reason they are in 1st place - Major underachievement by the Cavs and Raptors  

 swish


Swish,

Toronto won 48 games three years ago, 49 games two years ago, 56 games last year and 51 games this year.  Maybe the reason why they look like they underachieved this year is because they overachieved with 56 wins and everybody incorrectly assumed that wasn't their ceiling or, at least, was their norm.  Maybe, with the personnel they have 52 is as high as we should expect and they were exceedingly those expectations with 56?


bob


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Without doubt a possibility bob - one of those areas that is open to speculation - opinion.

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