Celtics-Bucks preview: Bradley making a two-way impact


Celtics-Bucks preview: Bradley making a two-way impact

BOSTON – Avery Bradley has a well-deserved reputation for being a defensive ace, the kind of player that shot-happy guards in the NBA internally cringe at when they see on the floor.

But for all the praise and accolades that have come Bradley’s way because of his defense, he’s also shown the ability to impact games significantly as a scorer, too.

The Celtics (46-32) will continue to count on Bradley’s two-way talent tonight when they try to extend their winning streak to four in a row tonight when they host the Milwaukee Bucks.

Despite being one of the league’s premier on-the-ball defenders, Bradley has had a banner season offensively with a career-high 15.1 points per game.

Not only is he scoring more, but he’s coming through with big shots when the Celtics need them most.

In Boston’s 104-97 win over New Orleans on Wednesday, Bradley had a rough night shooting the ball in finishing with 13 points while going 5-for-15 from the field. But with the scored tied at 93 with 2:39 to play, the Celtics closed out the game with an 11-4 run that included five points scored by Bradley.

The first was a 15-foot baseline jumper that gave Boston a 95-93 lead. And the second basket was a 3-pointer with 32.7 seconds left that pushed the Celtics lead to 102-95 and essentially sealed the victory.

“He has hit the big shots throughout the course of time that I have been here,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, now in his third season. “He is a very reliable player in that regard.”

Even more impressive was Bradley’s ability to shake off a rough shooting night and still deliver in the clutch.

“He wasn’t having a great shooting night, none of us were,” Stevens said. “He was 0-for-5 from three, but hit the big one when it mattered the most.”

Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with a game-high 32 points, but was quick to credit Bradley with yet another night in which he came through with big baskets at big moments.

“That’s what he does. He hits big shots, especially when his feet are set,” Thomas said. “We can always depend on Avery to do that. At the end of the game, he’s so locked in and he’s a player that’s capable of doing that.”

Said Bradley: “I pride myself on being a two-way player. I always tell people, it’s hard to play both ends of the floor especially at this level. That’s something I try to bring every single night for my team. I know my team needs me to play that way, and I’m going to continue to try and play at a high level on both ends. That’s what type of player I am.”

And more nights than not, Bradley’s impact is indeed felt at both ends of the floor.

But it is his defense that continues to draw rave reviews with some players talking him up as a first team all-NBA defender this season.

“Not to sound cocky,” Bradley said, “I feel like over the years I’ve improved … I definitely think I deserve to be on first team (all-NBA defense) every year.”

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Reserve-heavy Celtics keep at it, top Trail Blazers

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Reserve-heavy Celtics keep at it, top Trail Blazers

1:13 - The Celtics came away with a 105-100 win in Portland on Friday night. Find out why Chris Mannix is calling this the best Celtics win of the season.

6:05 - Mannix discusses details about Kyrie Irving’s ‘minimally invasive’ procedure on his knee and what his level of concern is with A. Sherrod Blakely and Gary Tanguay.

10:03 - Michael Holley and Tom Curran discuss what NFL players, including Devin McCourty, are doing beyond the gridiron by being active in criminal justice reform discussions held at Harvard this week.



Morris getting it done for Celtics on both ends of the floor

Morris getting it done for Celtics on both ends of the floor

When you think about Marcus Morris these days, big-time scoring immediately comes to mind. 

But in Boston’s 105-100 comeback win over Portland, Morris’ contributions went beyond the game-high 30 points he dropped on the Blazers.

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“Coach (Brad Stevens) is doing a great job of getting me the ball in my spots and my teammates are finding me,” Morris told reporters after the win. “And I’m just coming through.”

He’s providing strong play and a tremendous presence at both ends of the floor which has been critical to the team navigating some choppy waters with a number of regular rotation players – namely Kyrie Irving – out with injuries.

“One thing is, he’s healthy,” said Boston’s Al Horford, referring to the sore knee that limited Morris earlier this season and at times forced him to miss games. “And the other is, he’s just more confident, he’s playing very assertive. He’s playing great right now, in a really good rhythm.”

Said Stevens: “That’s been him (Morris). As he’s continued to feel better; I think physically he’s felt as good as he’s felt. He’s comfortable in our system and we need him to score. If you’re a basketball player and your job is to score, that’s a pretty good job.”

And it’s one that even with all the injuries Boston has played through, few envisioned him being such an integral part of the offense. 

Morris’ calling card prior to arriving in Boston was his defense. 

But Morris has made it known that his focus on the floor is to be as complete a player as possible.

“I’m not trying to just limit myself to just being that scorer,” Morris said. “Also, on the defensive end I think I’m bringing it; my defense has gotten a lot better, especially my on-the-ball defense. I’m trying to be that all-around player and not just an offensive player … but I can score.”