Avery Bradley's Block Party
On Monday, I said Avery Bradley would need to get over his playoff jitters for the Celtics to have a chance at beating the Hawks last night. Not only did he do that, he left no doubt. Paul Pierce was the star of last night’s 87-80 Celtics win, with his 36 points, 14 rebounds, and 4 assists, but Bradley came up huge as well. The Celtics’ second-year guard — all of 21-years-old — registered 14 points on 4 for 8 shooting and played stifling D. Whereas in Game 1 he only played 28 minutes — with the Celtics being outscored by 13 points during that time — in Game 2 last night, Doc Rivers ran him out there for 42 minutes. The Celtics outscored the Hawks by eight when he was on the court.
Over at WEEI, friend of Boston magazine (and occasional contributor) Paul Flannery has a great breakdown of how far Bradley’s decision making — and overall game — has come. But what caught my attention last night were his three blocks. Just like how Rajon Rondo does things on offense that you simply don’t see other guys in the league do, Avery Bradley makes blocks that you just don’t see. His come-from-the-side block on Atlanta’s Jeff Teague with 4:28 to go in the game was certainly clutch and unique in its own way (Bradley practically came out of nowhere for it), but the real show-stopper was when he rejected Teague on a fast-break in the first quarter. Check out the video:
I mean, Good God, you just don’t see guys able to jump backwards and hang in the air like that. Teague was running forward with a full head of steam and Bradley, moving laterally and backwards, was still able to out-leap him. When a guy gets rejected on a fast-break, it’s almost always from behind (LeBron James has made an art of this), but from the angle Bradley took? That’s pretty rare.
Of course, if Bradley goes on to become the player lots of us think he can be, the play that will be regarded as his coming out party was his stuff of Dwayne Wade back in April:
Again, you just don’t see that block. Bradley practically spiked the ball into Wade’s face. I’ve watched that play about 1,000 times and it still doesn’t make sense to me. Hopefully, there’ll be many more like it to come.