Shumpert Knicks' own version of Celtics' Bradley

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Shumpert Knicks' own version of Celtics' Bradley

BOSTON In preparing for the New York Knicks, Avery Bradley found himself watching what in many ways was a similar version of himself.

It was New York's Iman Shumpert who like Bradley, has established himself at a fairly young age as one of the better on-the-ball defenders in the NBA.

Bradley has known of Shumpert since they were in high school, and has always had a great amount of respect for Shumpert's defensive-minded approach to the game.

"You can tell he takes pride on the defensive end, just like I do," Bradley told CSNNE.com. "He's a good player."

While Shumpert's defense was solid as ever, it was 10 points - all coming in the first half - that played a pivotal role in helping the Knicks escape with an 89-86 win.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers is among the many who has been impressed with Shumpert's defensive skills that, in terms of impact, are similar to what the C's get from Bradley.

"He's a hell of a defender," Rivers said of Shumpert. "But they do it differently. He's so big; he's just bigger (than Bradley). But Avery is more the ball pressure all the way up the floor. That's the difference. But he's a great defender in his own right."

Having players like Bradley and Shumpert who are still young and so locked into being elite defenders, is a rarity in the NBA in terms of perimeter players.

"It's nice," Rivers said. "You would like one at each position, not all five but a small and a big that can guard. The small, you would love to guard 1s (point guards), 2s (shooting guards) and 3s (small forwards). You would love to have the one big you felt is a shut-down big and one guard that's a shut-down guard on your team. That's always nice."

And like Bradley (surgery on both shoulders), Shumpert has had to fight his way back on the floor after suffering a season-ending injury last season.

The torn left ACL and lateral meniscus injury that Shumpert suffered in April has limited him to just three games thus far for the New York Knicks.

Rivers understands all too well how difficult the journey can be for a player to get back on the floor after suffering such an injury.

When Rivers played for the Knicks, he too suffered a torn ACL injury.

"You find out a lot about yourself," said Rivers who came back in less than a year which was an unusually fast return to action back in the 1980s. "You grow up. It's not an injury you want. It's one of those injuries that requires you, if you're not a worker you will not come back from that injury. If you are, we've found that you can come back just as good and maybe even better, mentally tougher, stronger and just as athletic now. I think that's what you will see with Iman."