Bradley's scoring points with Celtics

Bradley's scoring points with Celtics
April 13, 2014, 12:30 pm

The guy donning the Boston Celtics jersey with the number zero on it looks like Avery Bradley, talks like Avery Bradley, and soaks up everything you say to him . . . just like Avery Bradley.

But that dude out there knocking down all those jumpers, and 3-pointers and mid-range shots . . . is that really Avery Bradley?

In the flesh, folks.

The fourth-year guard has been a difference-maker the past couple of seasons, but lately he has taken his game to another level -- and maybe more to the point, to the other side, the offensive side -- of the court.

Instead of being a 24/7 lockdown defender and an every-now-and-then scorer, Bradley has continued to put the clamps on players in addition to emerging as a legit, multifaceted points producer, which has been one of the more impressive developments in this season filled with struggles and disappointments for the Celtics.

"Avery's in a nice rhythm," coach Brad Stevens told reporters after the Celtics' 111-99 win at Cleveland on Saturday. "The biggest thing is he's picking his spots well."

Initially a cut-to-the-basket scorer, Bradley added the corner 3-ball to his game. In his second season, he shot 40.7 percent on 3s, which is a career high. Since then, he has become a more consistent shooter of mid-range shots. And this season, he began to connect more often on long, 2-pointers.

Lately he has taken a couple steps back, adding a 3-point shot from other spots on the floor besides the corner 3-ball, which has made him a much tougher cover whenever the ball is in his hands.

"That's something that Danny [Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations] and Brad would tell me to work on," Bradley said. "Throughout the year, I wasn't really confident shooting the 3-ball, but as the year went on I became more confident because of my teammates. Not only that, just putting in the work."

Celtics assistant coach Ron Adams has spent a considerable amount of time this season with Bradley working on his shot.

Mechanics were never really an issue.

"Just repetition and getting into a rhythm," Adams told CSNNE.com. "Avery is an extremely hard worker who wants to improve, not just his shooting but his entire game."

However, Bradley has once again been limited in displaying his much-improved skills because of multiple injuries that have sidelined him for 22 games this season.

"It's too bad he got hurt," Stevens said. "If he could have gotten his rhythm earlier, obviously it would have been great for him and us."

His defense is still his strength on the floor, as evident on Saturday in the job he did limiting All-Star guard Kyrie Irving to 3-for-15 shooting from the field.

But as much as his defense stands out, Bradley's shooting touch is gaining ground quickly.

Since returning to the lineup in Boston's last three games, Bradley has shot a sick 81.3 percent on 3s (13-of-16) while scoring at least 22 points in each game.

It's the second time this season (Jan. 11-15 was the first) he has had three consecutive games of at least 20 points scored. But the difference now is that the points are coming in a much more efficient manner.

"My entire game just feels a lot more comfortable out there as far as making moves," said Bradley who is averaging a career-high 14.7 points per game this season. "Being able to get my shot off and being able to make 3s consistently."

Orlando's Arron Afflalo is another upper-echelon defender who, like Bradley, has evolved into a legit scoring threat.

"It's tough," Afflalo, the Magic's leading scorer this season with 18.6 points per game, told CSNNE.com. "But it's what you want as an NBA player. You want your teammates to look to you, to be that guy. But the main thing is . . . stick to what you do best or what you do well and just try and be consistent. That's what really separates the good players from the great ones. And being great is what all of us in the NBA are striving towards being."