WALTHAM, Mass. — If Avery Bradley really is a "pit bull" as he teammates describe him, he was licking his chops Wednesday night.
That's when Warriors guard Stephen Curry put on a show, dropping 54 points on the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
Although the Warriors lost, the performance will go down as one of the more memorable basketball ones that the historical building has held. Curry said his teammates were treating him as if he was a pitcher throwing a no-hitter.
If that's the case, Bradley and the C's hope to rattle the Warriors' "ace" early on and maybe even put them in a "long relief" situation.
Bradley wasn't available to media on Thursday - he was busy taking jumpers on the practice court. But it won't be his jumper that is counted on Friday night - it'll be his defense.
"I don't know if Avery is going to shut down everyone, but I know he's going to give you the attempt to pressure," Doc Rivers said. "And ball pressure is important. I just use the football analogy: If you didn't blitz Tom Brady and just let him sit back there all day, he'll pick you up. It's the same in basketball. If you let passers just sit there with no pressure, they're going to pick you apart. And Avery is our blitzer."
So Curry is a pitcher, and Bradley is a pass rusher. And tomorrow they'll both play basketball. That's what you call versatility.
Still, all jokes aside, Curry has been a dangerous shooter since he entered the NBA. Wednesday night wasn't a complete shock -- Jeremy Lin-style. Curry is easily having the best season of his young career, averaging 21.9 points and 6.5 assists in 37.9 minutes per game. Just as important, he's played in 54 of the team's 58 games this season, avoiding any major ankle injuries, and is a big part in why the Warriors are currently the sixth seed in the West.
"He can shoot and he has a quick release," Rivers said. "And he scores in more than one way. He can score off the bounce. But he also doesn't need the ball to score. He can score off of pin downs, and when you have that - I mean if you want to say the difference between him and Dell [Curry], it's the dribble. Dell was bigger though. But Dell was one of the toughest guys - for you young people that's his dad - Dell was one of the toughest guys in the league to guard because you knew you were locking and trailing him but if the ball got in his hand, it was too late. Steph is the same way but then he can also beat you off the dribble, he can put it in pick and rolls he's pushing it up in transition. And what makes him the toughest is he's the point guard."
The Knicks didn't have anyone to put out Curry's fire on Wednesday night, but the Celtics -- and team Captain Paul Pierce -- think they don't have to worry about that as much with Bradley "hounding" the opposition.
“I think every great team needs a player like that, especially a great defensive team," Pierce said. "A guy, with so many great scorers in this league and individual play, you need that one guy who can go out there and slow these types of guys down and we have that in Bradley. He’s shown the willingness to sacrifice so much, when I believe he can give us a lot more offensively, but he’s so great on the defensive end, it has a impact on this whole team. … In my eyes he’s probably the best on-the-ball defender in the NBA. I’ll be very surprised if he doesn’t make the all-defensive team."
Bradley has a great chance to add support to that argument Friday night . . . as long as he doesn't get fooled by Curry's curveball.