- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOSTON -- If the Boston Celtics had held on to win Friday's visit from the Milwaukee Bucks, your morning papers (or RSS Feed) would have been filled with stories about Vitor Faverani. Alas, Boston kicked away a 22-point lead, a couple veterans vented about selfish play, and any talk of thrusting Faverani into the Rookie of the Year pool was tabled (for one game at least).
The 25-year-old Brazilian center started his second game of the young season and put together another excellent early effort. He finished with 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting with a game-high 18 rebounds and six blocks over 37 minutes. But like his teammates, Faverani's production ground to a second-half halt and the Bucks' rally overshadowed the performance.
“I thought Vitor did a lot of good things," said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. "The one thing that I really appreciate and respect about Vitor is [that he] works as hard as anyone on our team. If I had to say the two guys that are in the gym most consistently and are doing every single thing every single day, I’d say Vitor along with [Rajon] Rondo. Those guys. They really work at an elite level and it’s paying off for Vitor."
Maybe most impressive on this night was Faverani's defense. He didn't just block six shots, but he altered most any shot near the hoop. According to Synergy Sports data, Faverani was credited with defending 15 possessions and allowed only 5 points (0.333 points per play). Opponents shot just 2-of-11 (18.2 percent) against him. Faverani made his impact felt on the court.
For the second straight game, he struggled to get going again after the intermission. But that didn't temper any of his teammates' excitement about his performance.
"He’s getting better and better every game," said Gerald Wallace. "I think that once he understands the NBA style of play, he’s only going to get better."
Jared Sullinger hasn't been surprised by what he's seen from Faverani.
"I’ve seen some film on him. Vitor is a very special basketball player," said Sullinger. "He can really change the game and score on the blocks with both hands. That’s what makes him really good. He’s playing well. We’re going to ride that pony until it falls off."
Faverani grabbed 28.6 percent of all defensive rebounds available during his time on the floor and 24 percent of all available caroms. Boston still gave up 17 offensive rebounds (for 22 second-chance points), but Faverani showed the potential to be an impact player on the glass.
Some other notes from Friday's game:
* C'S TAKE BREAK TO SALUTE RUSSELL: The Celtics honored Bill Russell with a tribute video at the end of the first quarter, mixing highlights from his career and scenes from his statue unveiling Friday on City Hall Plaza. Coach Brad Stevens had his team stand in front of the bench and watch the tribute video, then players joined in the standing ovation for the 11-time champion. Asked why it was important for his team to watch the tribute, Stevens said, "There are things that are bigger than the game... To honor Bill Russell, and for us to be in a huddle while they are honoring Bill Russell, wouldn't have been right. You prioritize the right thing over a huddle."
* BRADLEY FOCUSED ON FUTURE WITHOUT EXTENSION: The Celtics and representatives for third-year guard Avery Bradley talked deep into the night Thursday trying to hammer out an extension before the midnight deadline, but never got close enough to make it happen. That sets Bradley up to be a restricted free agent next summer. Asked if he was disappointed by the lack of an extension, Bradley said, "I’ve just been trying to focus on the season more than anything. When the time comes, I’ll worry about it. But right now, I’m just worried about winning games and doing whatever I can to help our team so we can be successful this year and we can have the best season we can have." Pressed on his future, Bradley added, "Of course I would love to stay here. I’ve been here going on four years now, so I love it. I’m just going to continue to work hard, like I said, and just focus on this season."
* STILL NAVIGATING THE REGION: Asked if the Russell statue should have been erected around the TD Garden, Stevens said he was the wrong guy to ask. "I gotta admit, I don’ know if I could find [City Hall Plaza] off the interstate right now without being told how to get there. My GPS [only] takes me to the Garden and home. I’m still learning. I’m still in discovery mode."
12dKevin Pelton and Chad Ford