Avery Bradley hit one 3-pointer during his first 74 NBA appearances. In the past two games, he’s made two. Bradley entered Sunday’s tilt against the Washington Wizards with a season high of 12 points. He scored 15 in the first quarter, during which time the Washington Wizards could muster only 12. Bradley started in place of Ray Allen and Mickael Pietrus and decided to torture the woeful Wizards with backdoor cuts, which a superior team could probably cover but Washington was helpless to stop while falling 88-76.
In the continued progression of Bradley’s game, this is what he has become: a defensive-minded ball of athleticism who is beginning to understand how to play the game of basketball, even if his skill set has yet to catch up to his burgeoning basketball IQ. Bradley, a blind puppy during his initial NBA season last year, is learning ways to mask his flaws and magnify his strengths, and every once in a while that will result in outbursts like the one Bradley had today, which was not so much a testament to his skill development as his growing mental capacity. Rookies become second-year players, who later become veterans, and Bradley showcased the ability today to think a step ahead of his opponents. Those opponents were indeed the Washington Wizards, not exactly known for their own mental prowess, but rather than lessen Bradley’s accomplishments, the weak opposition only served to put his intelligence underneath a microscope.
The Wizards hit just three of their first 25 shot attempts, Bradley made his first eight, and it took Washington 16 minutes to finally catch up to Bradley’s point total. That was about the time Greg Stiemsma began lighting up the scoreboard, Boston’s other youth who has developed in leaps and bounds during this lockout season taking the baton from his younger teammate. At halftime, Stiemsma and Bradley had combined for 29 points. The Wizards had just 34. I imagine Randy Wittman did not fully suspect such an offensive onslaught from the duo.
The second half predictably featured a letdown, and the Wizards kind of, somewhat, almost attempted to make things interesting. But the Celtics were in control even when they weren’t in control and did what they needed to maintain a comfortable lead throughout.