Monday night’s game between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat featured a classic battle between two star players.
Except Avery Bradley isn’t even the Celtics’ leading scorer this season, and Dwyane Wade will turn 34 in January.
Bradley vs. Wade wasn’t exactly a marquee matchup by NBA standards, but the two clearly were the two best players on the floor in Boston’s 105-95 win at American Airlines Arena. Wade turned back the clock with a vintage 30-point performance, putting Miami on his back during a second-half Heat comeback.
For every Wade basket, though, Bradley had an answer. The 25-year-old racked up 17 of his team-high 25 points in the second half, nine of which came on clutch 3-pointers like this one:
Isaiah Thomas is considered the Celtics’ best scorer, but Bradley has shouldered Boston’s offensive load frequently of late. In 10 games since returning from a calf injury, the shooting guard has tallied 20-plus points five times and shot 50 percent or better from the floor six times.
“He’s just been pretty consistent,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said in a postgame interview aired on CSN New England. “Once he got back from that injury, I just think his pace (has been) really good. He’s just at a good level. He hit huge shots when we needed them most (Sunday) to kind of settle us down when things weren’t going our way.”
Fittingly, though, Bradley’s best play of the night came at the defensive end. With the Heat trailing by just five points with one minute remaining, Bradley put a definitive swat on Wade’s fadeaway jumper.
The Celtics still have just one former All-Star on their roster in David Lee, and they’ll face much better players than an aging Wade this season. Yet Bradley’s performance Monday night proved he has the ability to take over a game and outplay an opposing team’s star down the stretch, which is a good sign for a team that usually comes up short in the talent department.
“It was just important for us to execute and make sure that we continued to get stops, and I was able to make some big shots,” Bradley told CSN New England’s Kyle Draper in a postgame interview. “My teammates were able to find me, and I knocked (them) down.”
Thumbnail photo via Robert Mayer/USA TODAY Sports Images