Avery Bradley stepped up when he needed to the most securing a win for the Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics had a great bounce back game against the Charlotte Hornets, notching their second victory of the season. The Celtics continued to have issues with their second unit, but a great job by the starters sealed the game in the fourth quarter.
The Celtics appeared to be in control for the majority of the game, but the second unit allowed the Hornets to go on a run. Fortunately, a career night from Avery Bradley kept the Celtics in control, and earned him his first player of the game award.
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It was a career night form three point range, hitting eight of his 11 attempts on a night where he shot lights out, going 11-19 from the field. Bradley was the tone setter on the offensive end, coming up big any time the team needed him to. A game high 31 points fended off a stellar 28 point performance from Kemba Walker, and it is hard to imagine the Celtics getting enough scoring to win the game without him.
Bradley has always been a reliable shooter and tonight was the perfect combination of that reliability and aggressiveness. Isaiah Thomas deserves a ton of credit for getting the ball moving. The Celtics did a great job of getting the open looks they needed, and Thomas lead the way with seven assists. The Celtics have always done a solid job of getting those open looks, and all it took was Bradley shooting lights out to bury the Hornets because of it.
Offensively, this was one of the better games of Bradley’s career. The Celtics have spoken about him becoming more of a play maker, and a lot of that has to do with aggressiveness on the court. Bradley was never hesitant and he rewarded every pass that was sent his way.
Bradley was the shooter they needed, but his impact went even further. The four assists are a nice sight, showing his ability to balance passing and shooting. Thomas mastered that balance last year, and perhaps this is a glimpse of the more complete offensive approach from this season for Bradley.
As good as Bradley was on offense, defense will always be a factor for him. This game, and this season overall so far, Bradley has been the only player really making a difference on the boards. This is the second game Bradley has been the leader on the Celtics in that category, and his 11 made him the only player in the game in double digits.
One of the biggest reasons the Celtics lost to the Bulls was rebounding. It was a huge problem last year and that has spilled over into this season. With Bradley’s phenomenal effort, the Celtics managed to out rebound the Hornets as a whole. Any time the Celtics get the rebounding edge it will be a huge boost based on how important quantity of opportunities is for them on both ends.
Throw in that Bradley had just one turnover and was a +12 on the night and he did everything he needed in order to keep the Celtics above .500.
Bradley’s timing was also essential. He was the one that kept the team afloat when the second unit was on the verge of throwing the game away. Bradley has been arguably the most important defender on the team, and when he is shooting like that he is the most complete two way player on the team.
The Celtics will have to continue to lean more on their starters while Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk are sidelined, and getting performances like this from Bradley will make sure they keep getting these wins while being shorthanded.