'No hard feelings' for Avery Bradley, who's enjoying life in Detroit

'No hard feelings' for Avery Bradley, who's enjoying life in Detroit

BOSTON -- It was only fitting that Avery Bradley was in Boston on Sunday, his 27th birthday.
He has a new lease on his basketball life with the Detroit Pistons now. But the birth of Avery Bradley as an NBA player began in Boston with the Celtics, the only NBA franchise he played prior to this season.
Tonight he returns to where it all started, the TD Garden, as the Celtics (18-3) host the Pistons (12-7) in a battle between the top two teams in the East.


The Celts' place among the elite in the East isn’t all that surprising. They had the best record in the conference last season, and while they radically reshuffled the roster in the offseason there was no mistaking the fact that, on paper at least, this was a more talented team than the one we saw a year ago.
But in that pursuit of becoming better, there was some collateral damage along the way -- specifically, the trading of Bradley.
When the final numbers for the salary cap came in lower than expected this summer, the Celtics had to make another deal in order to ensure they would be able to fit the four-year, $127.8 million contract signed by Gordon Hayward.
That led to Boston parting ways with Bradley in exchange for Marcus Morris.

"I understand what they did and I have no hard feelings at all," Bradley told reporters recently. "I ended up in a great situation, in a great organization, so I'm happy and they're playing well -- they're playing great basketball right now -- so at the end of the day it's about making the best decision for the team."

Not only are the Pistons off to a great start, but Bradley’s individual statistics are once again on the rise.
The 6-foot-2 guard is averaging a career-high 16.8 points per game. Prior to the trade, Bradley had talked about getting to the free-throw line more often. This season, he’s averaging a career-high 2.8 free throw attempts per game. Bradley’s 3-point shooting (42.5 percent) is also at an unmatched level.
Morris, the player Boston acquired in trading away Bradley to Detroit, isn’t surprised at all that Bradley has had such a seamless fit with the Pistons.
“He’s fit in Detroit because Stan [Van Gundy, Detroit's coach] is a defensive type of guy,” Morris said. “So [Bradley] can go over there, defend his ass off and he’s going to play. He’s not going to say too much about shots; Avery’s a veteran. He knows how to play the game. Detroit’s probably helping him a little more because he has the ball in his hand more, can create for himself.”
To see Bradley thrive in a new surrounding isn’t the least bit surprising to Celtics coach Brad Stevens.
“Huge part of our team” was the first thought that came to mind for Stevens when he was recently asked about Bradley.
“When we had to make that move after Gordon signed, those are really difficult things,” Stevens said. “We talked about this summer, any time you’re getting guys that are really, really talented, it usually comes at a cost in professional sports. There’s both the cost of the guy that’s been on your team, the emotional cost of someone that you’ve been around every day.
Stevens added, “it’s great to see him playing well. He’s having a tremendous season. They’re a heck of a team. He’s a great fit for how they play. So, hats off to him and he’s going to be a hard guy to play against.”


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.”