Avery Bradley  at the ‘2’ providing smothering defense with a cast of Kevin Garnett , Paul Pierce , Rajon Rondo  around him. Brandon Bass  was even inserted back into the starting lineup Friday, giving the Celtics the lineup they had when they made their run at the end of last season.
The result was a 94-75 win over the Pacers in which defense was the main attraction and Bradley, according to Rivers, was the MVP.
“Avery was 3-for-11 and he may have been the most valuable player tonight because his defensive pressure, just on the ball, it made them take so much time to get into their sets and when they got in their sets it wasn’t the right spot,” Rivers said. “They had to go in places they didn’t want to, and it allowed our entire defense to be dominant. And so Rondo was part of it as well. Where I was real happy with Rondo was in the second and third especially. His speed he played on offense, where he attacked the basket and made things happen, that’s a good sign for us.’
The Celtics held the Pacers to 27-of-85 shooting (31.8 percent). They held Indiana to 75 points, the fewest they’ve allowed all season. Bradley was in the face of Lance Stephenson all night, holding him to 1-for-6 from the floor.
‘That’s what I try to bring every night,” Bradley said. “I try to bring that intensity on the defensive end but that’s my role, to be the energy when I come into the game. I just try to make it hard on the opponent every single night, and that’s all I did tonight. It means nothing to me, it just means that I’m taking steps forward, and next game I gotta continue to get better and better.
‘We’ve been making steps forward on that defensive end and offensive end and everything’s starting to come together as a team and we just gotta continue to keep taking steps forward and we’ll be the team that we want to be from the beginning of the year’
Was the intensity there from start to finish?
‘Definitely. The whole team, even at the end of the game when people came in, everyone was just playing hard. That’s how we’ve been playing in practice and it translated to the game and we just gotta continue to play hard and everything else will work itself out. We started off slow, we just weren’t making shots, but we just continued to play hard on the defensive end, but then our shots started to fall and it’s hard to beat us when we’re playing this way.’
Bradley and the Celtics were able to muster only 15 points in the first quarter. But Bradley wasn’t worried since the Celtics D held Indiana to just 16.
‘I mean, that’s what kind of team we are; we’re a grinding team,” Bradley said. “You see Kevin Garnett, he plays hard every single game, just like Paul, everybody. We’re grinding right now and we’re gonna continue to bring that effort every single game. Like I said if we play this way, it’s gonna be hard for teams to beat us.’
“I said that we’re like a puzzle, our whole team, and everybody’s like a piece. Jared is, I am, Courtney, everybody. We need everybody to be the team that we want to be.’