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.”