BOSTON – As Avery Bradley made his way to the middle of the post-game media scrum inside the Boston Celtics locker room, he was informed that he had played 39 minutes in their 109-100 win over Indiana.
“I played 39?” Bradley said. “Man, I’m not even tired.”
And that may be the clearest sign to date that Bradley, a defensive pest who has been pestered by injuries this season, is as healthy as we’ve seen him in some time.
In addition to scoring 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting, he also grabbed eight rebounds, dished out a couple of assists, had a steal and was the head of the defensive snake that made life as hard as possible on Paul George who still managed to have a big night scoring the ball.
For Bradley to play so many minutes is a bit of a surprise when you consider how overcautious the Celtics were with his return from a right Achilles injury that kept him out for 18 straight games.
Bradley attributes the Celtics having some time off leading up Wednesday’s game.
“It was good for us and we were definitely prepared (on Wednesday),” Bradley said. “And it showed we’re improving every day as a team. We’re really locking in when we need to.”
And while he was one of three different primary defenders on George (Marcus Smart and Jae Crowder were the others), Bradley was the guy head coach Brad Stevens turned to most consistently down the stretch.
Bradley was the only Celtic to play all 12 minutes of the fourth quarter. The only other players that were on the floor for the entire fourth quarter, were Indiana's Monta Ellis and George.
You think Bradley was out there to shut down (2-for-10 from the field) Ellis?
Uh … nope!
“He (Bradley) was on Paul some,” Stevens said. “Not the whole time he was in. Marcus (Smart) guarded him a lot. Jae (Crowder) guarded him some as well. We just felt like we had to rotate bodies on them. I did not plan on playing Avery quite that many minutes.”
Stevens put Bradley back in the game to start the second and fourth quarters, something he normally does for Terry Rozier who did not play (coaches decision).
“And he maybe sat a minute at the end of the second,” Stevens said. “So that’s 24 minutes and usually it’s about twelve-to-fifteen.”
The additional playing time is something Bradley certainly isn’t going to ever complain about.
The same holds true for the Celtics having clinched a playoff spot prior to Wednesday’s tip-off.
“I don’t think anyone talked about it,” Bradley said. “We were just treating this like any other game, try to be prepared, go out there and execute the offensive game plan … I feel we did a great job of doing that.”
Indeed, the Celtics are playing with a flow and overall rhythm that’s making it extremely tough on their foes.
“If you look at their roster, everybody knows what to expect out of everybody,” said Paul George. “There’s never a moment where a guy is like, ‘What kind of shot are you taking?’ or ‘what are you doing?’ They are beyond that.”