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A Brief Ode To Avery Bradley

Let me begin with words I honestly believe: If Avery Bradley were healthy, the Celtics would win the 2012 NBA Championship. Unfortunately, that sentence is pointless dribble for obvious reasons, one of which being that every team (except, ironically, the two remaining ones out west) is facing/has battled a key injury in recent weeks, but where, say, Derrick Rose and Chris Bosh received their much deserved attention, Bradley’s is hidden in a way suggesting it isn’t a true dagger into this basketball team’s heart.

I won’t go into the countless stats that prove his consistent ability to make fellow teammate’s lives easier, and opponent’s lives more difficult (just trust me they exist), but at the age of 21, Bradley has already shown a subtle steadiness. His presence on defense allows Rajon Rondo to play to his unmethodical strengths, roaming the perimeter and saving a larger percentage of his energy for defensive rebound to one man fast break sequences. His slippery give and go cuts with Kevin Garnett give Boston’s valiant center a much needed pressure release, making double downs in the post all but impossible lest the defense prefer a wide open layup.

Bradley’s overall improvement on both ends of the floor this season suggests a player with a boundless ceiling. I can’t help but think back to what was probably the 2012 season’s turning point. On February 22nd, the score was 72-49 at halftime as Boston was in the process of getting embarrassed on national television, in Oklahoma City—sans Rondo and Brandon Bass.

Heading into the game with a four game losing streak, the simple logic here was that Russell Westbrook would absolutely destroy the wilting Celtics as they set their minds forward to the upcoming All-Star break, and with 31 points on 46 percent shooting, that’s exactly what he did. Let’s look a little closer, though.

Avery Bradley shared the court with Russell Westbrook for 32 minutes. In that time, Westbrook was 6-18 from the floor for 21 points, had three of his shots blocked (all by Bradley), and finished with a plus/minus of -4. It wasn’t what one might call “smooth sailing” for basketball’s most dynamic point guard.

When Bradley came off the floor it was like the removal of Westbrook’s muzzle. In nine minutes of being able to breathe, he attempted six shots, made five of them, and scored 10 points with a +15. Kind of ridiculous.

No one game can capture the importance a player has on his basketball team, but this one, coming several weeks before his insertion into the starting lineup, is a great example of how significant Bradley is for the Celtics.

His young legs briefly gave Boston a different identity, infusing the most pessimistic fan with raised expectations and newfound hope. With Bradley’s shoulder injury, all that is gone so far as it applies to the rest of these playoffs. But in regards to the Celtics immediate future? Having Avery Bradley in green should keep the torch of relevance and perennial success lit, and for that, all I can do is tip my cap, and offer thanks.

Twitter: @ShakyAnkles

  • High Rollers

    Everything's still in flux, and I don't care what you say, the C's are still in play until somebody delivers the final blow and the last horn sounds on 2012. But yeah, the infusion of AB+ brought these C's back to life at innumerable moments this season (you're right about that OKC game… Russ didn't know what hit him), and with a strong recovery this summer, will continue to for years to come. Here's to AB. Now, back to the task at hand. GAME 7!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • jman

      Exaclty back to the task Game 7. AB was great for the C's this year, but he's not the game changer. Rondo, Pierce and KG are the changers. IF they push and go the the basket they'll win. No hero ball at all. Those three playing hard offense to the basket will free up Bass and the others. Push Philly's defense by running not walking up the court. I hate Rondo when he does that. Especially against a good defensive team. Makes me want to have him traded just for doing stupid shit like that no matter how good of a PG he is. There's no reason not to win tonight unless they try to win on themselves instead of team. LAkers lost their game because Kobe wantred to win himself…As I've always said about this game it's not baseball or football, it's a true team sport…
      Thanks for the good gaming Bradley Great year you had totally changed my thoughts on you, however you're not needed for this win or even Miami…

  • guest

    Let me begin with words If Derek Rose of Chicago were healthy, the Celtics would be fishing by now

    • Nick

      You began with words but you finished showing us you clearly don't know how to use them…

  • Phil

    Not sure Bradley was gonna make a difference in the finals unless he's good at kidnapping entire starting fives covertly, but he's absolutely the difference between a real tough series for Miami or not.

    There's definitely more of a sentiment locally than nationally on what Bradley means to the team, and I think people will catch on pretty fast if the Cs do win tonight and have to face Miami without him. Its a great testament to his development really. He's come out of nowhere to be a key member of the team. We always hear about players being a year or two away when drafted, but rarely do you see a player look lost for so long, then just get it. I've been hard on Doc for not giving the young guys a chance, but maybe the other young guys just weren't good. He's pressed all the right buttons with Avery.

  • guest

    lol it is new facebook
    i don't fucking care about – or +

    • CelticsBIG3

      Unfortunately for you, Derrick Rose isn't healthy and won't be until 2013-14 season.

      • guest

        Unfortunately for you big Celtics bigs are joke and will get annaliated by Miami

  • Sophomore

    It starts with Bradley, and then you have to add Ray. No Bradley, Ray a shell of his former self, and even Dooling hurt and we're facing a big hole. Total game changer against Miami. If Bradley bothers Wade into subpar games and Bosh is out, it'd be a recap of Boston against LBJ's Cleveland team. But with Wade playing against Ray minus his ankles? Ouch. Then Pierce at about 80% against LBJ? Double ouch.

  • High Rollers

    Eh. This team is like the Black Pearl. Gnarly, ghostly, indestructible.

    BTW Is that Doug Collins calling the “Bird Steals It!” game floating around today as a YouTube clip on its 25th anny? Not the guy who says “Nird steals it!” The other one. That’s just weird.

  • High Rollers

    Oh, man… That should be Bird. Stupid buttons too close together.

  • -jp

    If we get to play Miami, doesn’t Rondo have to take Wade? He is the only one quick enough, and he’s long enough to bother him a bit too. I hate our chances against Miami, since their 2 guys seem in sync and healthy. We are beat up, but better coached, better chemistry, better heart. Ugh, can game 7 start already?

  • mark steeneck

    I agree wholeheartedly. Bradley may not be better than Bosh but he is more valuable to the Celtics than Bosh is to the Heat. Bradley is more valuable to the Celtics than a healthy Ray Allen is. When Bradley and Stiesma were healthy I thought the Celtics were the favorite to win it all in 2012. Their defense and energy transformed the Celtics from good to great.

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