CHARLOTTE, N.C. We have seen first-hand the emergence of Avery Bradley into an above-average defender who can occasionally make shots when given the opportunity.
He's not just making shots now; he's making big, end-of-the-game, momentum-shifters that give opponents yet another layer of concern when facing the Boston Celtics.
With no Big Three on hand on Sunday, it was Bradley coming up with some huge Big Three-like buckets in the fourth quarter to propel the C's to a 94-82 win.
"I'm just going to continue playing hard," said Bradley. "That's what my team needs me to do. With Rajon Rondo and those guys, the ball will find you if you make plays happen on the defensive end. That's what I try to do."
Bradley's defense remains his strength. But the ability to knock down mid-range shots and corner 3-pointers, is gaining ground quickly.
In Sunday's win, the Bobcats had cut Boston's lead down to just four, 78-74, with 6: 55 to play.
After the Celtics prevented Charlotte from scoring on a couple of possessions, Bradley drained a corner 3-pointer with 5:38 to play that put the C's up by seven points.
From there, the Celtics pushed their lead to double digits and never looked back.
The corner 3-pointer is a shot that Bradley says he has been working on all season.
"I feel a lot more comfortable out there, to shoot that shot," he said. "I just feel like it's a confidence thing. When you have confidence, believe that it's going in, it usually goes in. That's how I been doing it."
Bradley had another 3-pointer in the game in which he basically ran to that spot in the corner, got the pass from Rajon Rondo, and drained it.
"When Rondo passed me the ball and I was kind of running and shot it, I believed that was going in," Bradley said. "And it did."
It was in some ways reminiscent to another Celtic who tends to run to spots and launches 3-pointers - Ray Allen.
"It's hard to pull a Ray," Bradley chuckled. "Close as you can. Ray's amazing, man."
Which can also be said for Bradley's evolution as a player who can now do a number of things to help the Celtics win - including knock down clutch shots in the fourth quarter.