The game plan didn’t initially call for Avery Bradley to harass Jermaine O’Neal for 94 feet on every possession.
“It really wasn’t (the plan), but I told Doc, ‘I’m going to pick him up for the whole game,’” Bradley said after spending his night repeatedly shutting a door on Jameer Nelson’s fingers. “He kinda looked at me like, ‘The whole game?’ and I looked back like, ‘Yeah, the whole game.’”
The night ended with praise flying at Bradley from all directions. Jermaine O’Neal called him “one of the best on-ball defenders in the game.” Stan Van Gundy said he set the tone for Boston’s 87-56 smackdown of the Orlando Magic. Doc Rivers gave him credit for leading the way from tip off. (Note: all those tidbits are from Paul Flannery’s piece on Bradley, which you should go read NOW.)
And Bradley, the recipient of all those kind words, seems to be developing a swagger about his defense that is polar opposite of his offensive mentality. (Orlando Sentinel)
Bradley fired up his teammates, and he also appeared to unnerve Nelson.
“He seemed like he didn’t even want to bring the ball up,” Bradley said in a postgame interview with NBA TV. “I looked at him and he kept telling me throughout the game, ‘You know what, don’t pick me up, don’t pick me up.’ And that’s when I knew, if I brought pressure, he didn’t want nothing to do with it.”
“It got to a point where he didn’t want to bring the ball up,” Bradley said of Nelson. “That’s when I knew I was having an effect.” …
“I can tell (when they get frustrated). Sometimes they talk to me,” said Bradley. “They’ll say you can get back a little bit, you don’t have to pick me up all the time, and when they start talking to me like that, that’s when I know I’ve got them.
Asked if that’s what Nelson said tonight, Bradley replied, “Everybody says it to me – everybody. I just laugh. I might just look at them, I’m going to keep coming all of the time.”
Bradley shot 2-7 last night. He scored six points in 29 minutes and added only three assists, looking uncomfortable per usual whenever the ball touched his skin. Bradley technically played point guard, but Doc Rivers noted that Paul Pierce actually took that role when the two graced the court together, because the Celtics still cringe when Bradley needs to run the offense.
Yet the youngest Celtic played as big a role in Boston’s success as anyone. He stripped Nelson twice at half-court and forced an additional palming violation in the backcourt on another possession. He flustered Nelson to the point that he was essentially useless, not just unable to create plays himself but unable even to run Orlando’s offensive sets. Most importantly, he and Sasha Pavlovic seemed to inspire the Boston Celtics to reach for the moon defensively, leading the Celtics into a bar fight that resulted in more floor burns last night than the Celtics had accrued all season.
Lastly, whoever bet $5 that I would write “Bradley and Pavlovic inspired the Celtics to reach for the moon” can now cash in his $20 million winner’s fee.