Celtics

Bradley breaks out in win over Nets

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Bradley breaks out in win over Nets

BOSTON Going as far back as grade school, Avery Bradley always saw himself as a good defender.

But somewhere along the playgrounds of his youth, Bradley developed an offensive game that made him one of the most sought-after high school players in the country.

On Wednesday, Celtics Nation got a chance to see both sides of Bradley's game as the C's shook off a rusty start before pulling away for an 89-70 win.

Maybe no sequence of events better explains just how well-balanced Bradley's play was on Wednesday, than a 21-second sequence in the third quarter.

After checking into the game for Rajon Rondo, Bradley drilled a 3-pointer.

But that wasn't the best part.

On the ensuing defensive series, Bradley's suffocating defense was among the factors to contribute to Jordan Farmer losing the ball.

"He came in like a bloodhound; nose over the ball," said Boston's Kevin Garnett. "He was on their guards from the jump; from the minute he came into the game from the time the horn went off."

And it was fitting that Bradley's breakout game (4-for-8, 11 points, 2 assists, 2 steals) began with his play defensively.

"As a young guy, you don't really know what your role is and especially it's the beginning of the year," Bradley said. "But now I understand what my role is and I'm going to continue to come in and do whatever I need to do for my team to win."

WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Heat in Miami. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview: Will Celtics be drained by emotional comeback win Monday in Dallas?

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Celtics-Heat preview: Will Celts be drained by emotional win in Dallas?

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Celtics-Heat preview: Will Celts be drained by emotional win in Dallas?

The Boston Celtics remain a team whose collective talents are far more valuable than their individual abilities.

But there are going to be nights when someone has to shoulder a larger burden of the team in order to win. More often than not, that “one” will likely be No. 11, Kyrie Irving. 

We saw in Dallas what can happen when Irving feels he has little choice but to put the team on his back and carry them to victory. 

The Celtics were desperate for a spark against the Mavericks and found it in Irving, who scored 47 points in leading the Celtics to a come-from-behind 110-102 overtime win. 

It remains to be seen if the Celtics will require a similar Herculean effort tonight when they take the Miami Heat with a chance to extend their winning streak to 17 straight. 

This team isn’t one to dwell on success in the past, even if the past was just 24 hours ago. But there’s no getting around how what happened on Monday night might impact what we see against the Heat. 

Boston expended a tremendous amount of energy in rallying from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter at Dallas, the kind of effort that may be difficult to replicate against a Miami team that you can count on to play hard from the opening tip to the final horn. 

Irving’s performance was one of the rare instances this season when Boston clearly could not have won without their top scorer having a big game. 

“When we needed it most, he made big shot after big shot,” said Al Horford. “He had such good rhythm, I was thinking, ‘just let him keep it going.’ He just kept being aggressive, taking really good shots. He recognized he needed to be extra aggressive, especially at the end and score the ball for us.”

Scoring could potentially be at a premium against Miami which allows 102.5 points per game which ranks ninth in the league in fewest points allowed. Also, the Heat will test Boston’s perimeter defenders. Miami comes into tonight’s game averaging 11.1 made 3-pointers per game which ranks ninth in the NBA. 

The Heat are led by Goran Dragic who is averaging team highs in scoring (18.3 points) and assists (4.7) this season. 

These two squared off earlier this season in Miami with the Celtics coming away with a 96-90 win as Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum led the way with 24 and 20 points, respectively. In that game, the Heat were without starting center Hassan Whiteside, who will be in the lineup tonight as the Heat try to bounce back after losing three of its last four games.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE