Celtics: Knicks with decided advantage at the point
It has taken three brutal halves of playoff basketball for most Celtics fans to come to the concrete decision that their team is in no way better without Rajon Rondo.
Even in their narrow Game 4 victory over the Knicks, Boston’s offense was stagnant as their backcourt once again failed to get the offense into any sort of flow.
Avery Bradley, who is the starting “point guard” by default, has not found any rhythm in the series as he is averaging just 6.5 points per game and an alarming 1.75 assists per game. Earlier in the season, Bradley was comfortable shooting 3-pointers from the corners of the floor but he has attempted just eight 3s through four games and has hit on just two of them.
Conversely, Knicks point guard Raymond Felton attempted nine 3-pointers in Game 1 alone, hitting on four from deep. In the series he has taken 17 3s and has hit on six. Felton is also getting to the rim with ease, averaging 17.7 points in the series, while dishing out 5.25 assists per game.
Boston head coach Doc Rivers admits that Bradley may be overwhelmed in the series.
“It’s a hard role for Avery,” Rivers told ESPN. “We talk about Paul [Pierce’s responsibilities], but we’re asking Avery to pressure, pressure, pressure, and then try to do something that he’s not [used to offensively]. Avery’s a good basketball player, but we never wanted him to be in the position of facilitating offense, seeing that guys aren’t set, trying to get guys in the right spots, delivering the pass on target. We’re asking a lot, we understand that.”
Bradley was ecstatic heading into the playoffs, having finally had a chance to redeem himself after missing the latter half of the Celtics run to Game 7 of the East finals last year due to injury, but his play has noticeably dipped against the Knicks.
“I’m just excited, and, not only that, I feel like I owe my team from last year, not being able to play, getting injured,” Bradley told ESPN prior to the series. “I’m definitely going to prepare myself [for the Knicks], make sure I’m ready, [study] the scouting report … I’m just excited to start the playoffs. Right now, mentally, I’m ready.”
Follow Metro sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS