WALTHAM — Celtics  coach Doc Rivers  and captain Paul Pierce  both had high praise for Avery Bradley  before Thursday’s practice. The C’s guard will have the unenviable task Friday of guarding Warriors counterpart Stephen Curry, who scored 54 points against the Knicks in Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.
- Pierce: ‘I think every great team needs a player like that, especially a great defensive team. With so many great scorers in this league and great individual play, you need that one guy who can go out there and kind of slow those types of guys down. We have that in Avery Bradley. He’s shown a willingness to sacrifice so much. I believe he can give us a lot more defensively, but he’s so great on the defensive end that it has an impact on this whole team. You don’t have to double as much, you don’t have to give as much help when you’ve got a guy like that who can defend at a high level. In my eyes, he’s probably the best on-the-ball defender in the NBA. I’d be very surprised if he didn’t make the All-Defensive Team.’
- Rivers: ‘They’re picking him now. They’re getting him off of [his assignments], and that’s what they should do, but it’s nice to have a guy that can pressure the ball. I don’t know if Avery’s going to shut down everyone, but I know he’s going to give you the attempt to pressure, and ball pressure is important. I just use a football analogy: If you didn’t blitz Tom Brady  and you just let him sit back there all day, he’s going to pick you apart. It’s the same in basketball. If you let the passers just sit there with no pressure, they’re going to pick you apart. And Avery is our blitzer.’
For more on the NBA All-Defensive case for Bradley, read this column .