Doc Rivers has the C's playing their best basketball of the season right now. Behind the lead of Kevin Garnett's defensive dominance and Rajon Rondo's sudden maturity at the point guard spot, the Celtics have put together five straight wins and a 15-5 record since the All-Star break.
The hottest team in the NBA? It appears so. And much of the success during the recent stretch can be attributed to a return of defensive focus.
Garnett will naturally be viewed as the leader of the charge, as the nine-time NBA All-Defensive first-team selection has the preceeding reputation. But a large part of the Celtics' recent defensive resurgence has to be accredited to second-year guard Avery Bradley.
Since Bradley replaced the injured Ray Allen in the starting lineup two Sundays ago in Washington, the production level at the position hasn't seen much — if any — decrease. Bradley is averaging 14.6 points a game over the stretch, which is the exact same figure Allen has averaged so far this season.
Bradley's emergence as a viable offensive threat, paired with his well-distinguished defensive skills, has brought about the idea that maybe it is the 21-year-old's turn to take over the starting role permanently.
There may be some pushback on the idea, especially considering Allen still has advantages in both assists (2.5 to Avery's 1.3 per game) and rebounds (3.0 to 1.5) on the year. But even if Bradley were to join the regular starting rotation, it's unlikely Allen's minutes would take anything but a mild hit.
Allen is still expected to return any day now. But with the level that Bradley has been able to reach during his recent run with the first line, Rivers may be hard pressed to mess with a good thing.
So, given the current circumstance and the Celtics much-improved play of late, do you think Avery Bradley should keep the starting job?