Sometimes a spark comes from the most unexpected place. Yesterday the Celtics got their spark from a guy that coming into the season had seldom seen the NBA court and still hasn't established much of an offensive game. But somehow Avery Bradley is changing games with his defense and his teammates are taking his lead.
"I just came out tonight and I wanted to get everybody else's energy up and I felt like I did playing defense like that," an exhausted Bradley said in the locker room after the win. "Paul [Pierce] came up and told me, ‘When you play defense like that it makes us play defense even harder.' That's all I try to do, I try to help in anyway I can."
"He was very infectious on the rest of us with his ball pressure all night long," Pierce said of the young point guard. "He's playing so hard; he's harassing the point guards so the other guys are trying to deny [the ball]. When they catch it and once they get into their offense, there's only like 10-11 seconds on the shot clock and as everybody knows around the NBA, it's tough to run your offense with 10-11 seconds on the shot clock."
"Avery Bradley set a great tone,'' Van Gundy said.
Nelson clearly was flustered, turning it over five times. He started jawing at Bradley, telling the kid that he didn't need to defend full-court. That's when Bradley knew he had won the battle.
"They start talking to me, that's when I know I got 'em,'' Bradley said.
Did he talk back?
"Nah. I just laughed,'' he said.
Love that attitude. He really is starting to remind me of a non-crazy Tony Allen.
Perhaps we'll even see more of the full court one-man-press.
It’s one thing for Bradley, a player with incredible lateral quickness even by N.B.A. standards, to pressure opposing point guards. But the aging Jason Kidd? The offensively inclined Jason Terry? The effective -– but relatively slow-footed -– DeShawn Stevenson? All are effective defenders in some way, but none are close to Bradley’s athletic standard. That didn’t stop Rick Carlisle and Dwane Casey from using them to defend the entire court, and it begs the question why other coaches haven’t employed a similar tactic as a way of disrupting an opponent’s offensive rhythm. The strategy worked well for Dallas in the Finals, and it could prove even more lethal against opponents worn ragged by the post-lockout schedule. The full-court press would be an easy way for well-conditioned players and teams to fully exploit their exhausted opponents, or at the very least, a means of draining the shot clock and disrupting the half-court timing of offenses.