Avery Bradley Amped To Play With Marcus Smart In Celtics’ New-Look Backcourt

Avery BradleyWALTHAM, Mass. — Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart share a lot of similarities.

Both are products of the Big 12 Conference, have ties to Texas and are known for their ability to make ball-handlers’ lives miserable.

Now, with Rajon Rondo sidelined until mid-November at the earliest, the two new Boston Celtics teammates could be sharing the court a lot this season.

“I haven’t pictured it, but a lot of people make jokes and say, ‘Man, I would hate to be on the opposite team playing against you and Marcus, bringing the ball up the court, you guys taking turns picking people up full-court,'” Bradley said Monday at Celtics media day. “So, it’s definitely cool to know that people are already nervous to play against me and Marcus.

“He’s an amazing defender, and he can really run a team. He’s a very good player. I’m excited to get a chance to play on the same court with him.”

Smart, the Celtics’ top pick in the 2014 NBA draft, is the most notable addition to Boston’s backcourt, but he’s far from the only one. Evan Turner and Marcus Thornton joined the team this summer via free agency and trade, respectively, and rookie James Young dons the green for the first time after being selected 11 picks after Smart.

In fact, until Rondo returns, Bradley and second-year point guard Phil Pressey are the only guards remaining from the Celtics’ 2013-14 roster.

“I wouldn’t say it motivates me,” Bradley said of having so many new faces to compete for playing time with. “It just lets me know that we can all learn from each other. We can all push each other every single day. No matter who plays, we all have the same goal, and that’s winning games. And the ones that don’t play, we help each other in practice. We can all help each other get better.

“I know I have a role on this team,” he continued. “I haven’t been given it yet, but I’m willing to accept it, and I do whatever it takes for my teammates. Whatever that is, I’ll do it in order for us to win games. That’s really my focus: winning. We want to make the playoffs this year.”

That last part might be a bit of a stretch. Even with Rondo, who broke his hand in a fall at his home last Thursday, the Celtics weren’t expected to make much of a leap up in the standings after a 25-57 finish last season. Without him, making a playoff push becomes exponentially more difficult.

One certainty, however, is that Bradley is fully invested in whatever rebuilding still is to come after signing a four-year, $32 million contract extension shortly after NBA free agency opened in July.

“(My deal) personally was done because this is my home,” he said. “I love the organization, I love Brad Stevens, I love Danny Ainge, I love my teammates. It was a no-brainer for me. I knew I was going to come back here to Boston. It’s my second home.”

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