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Irish Coffee: Where Avery Bradley adds a jump shot

03.06.13 at 10:45 am ET

While everyone’s been rightfully lauding Avery Bradley‘s defense, he’s added a mid-range game.

In Tuesday’s 109-101 victory against the 76ers, the Celtics guard drained 4-of-5 long jumpers (16-23 feet). Heck, he even attempted a couple from 10-15 feet, where he hadn’t made a shot in more than a month. It’s almost as if he previously had devastating shoulder injuries, and he’s only now fully recovering. Oh, wait, he did. And he is.

“He’s starting to make the little pull-up jump shot,” C’s coach Doc Rivers told reporters in the postgame. “He’s been making the 3’s for the most part. He keeps shooting them, and we want him to, but I’m really happy with his pull-up off the dribble. That’s a big shot for us later, and he’s starting to make that. And that’s big.”

The 3-pointers part is debatable, since Bradley’s steadily been shooting around 31 percent from there this season after making 41 percent a year ago. His corner 3-point shooting has also dipped from 56 percent last season to 34 percent this winter. But Bradley’s honing a new weapon for his offensive arsenal: the long jumper.

Oh, great, another jump shooter on the Celtics, you say. Well, consider this: Bradley’s making 51 percent of his long jumpers over the past 12 games on an average of 3.6 attempts. That’s a marked improvement from his first 16 games, when he shot 39 percent on 2.3 attempts during a physical and mental adjustment period upon his return.

Because defenders must now respect Bradley’s newfound jump shot (see video), he’s also getting to the rim twice as often over the past 12 games, converting 60 percent of his 3.8 shots per game within three feet. His scoring numbers are up 50 percent in that same stretch, which has ripple effects throughout the Celtics roster.

“He’s confident,” added Rivers. “I don’t think he ever lost it. He was questioning it at times.

“We keep showing him on film: ‘You’re going to keep getting it. You’re coming off a pick-and-roll with Kevin Garnett. What are they going to do? They’re going to get back to Kevin Garnett. You’re going to be able to step in that pocket and take that shot. And when they start worrying about that, then Kevin Garnett will be open. So, until then, you’ve got to keep shooting.’ And he’s doing that.”

The Celtics are now 18-10 since Bradley’s return from double shoulder surgery, and a lot of that can be attributed to Bradley’s defensive leadership. But the C’s are now 10-2 when Bradley makes multiple long jumpers and 11-3 when he attempts at least three shots from 16-23 feet, and there may be more to that than just pure coincidence.

“When anybody’s aggressive, obviously it makes it easier on other primaries,” Garnett said postgame. “I said this as he was coming back from his injury: I think Avery’s playing with a certain level of confidence. He knows he’s going to have lengthy minutes. We’re asking a lot of him. I think he’s meeting the challenge. He’s playing great, man. On both ends, he’s playing great, considering what you ask of him. I think he just comprehends very, very well. He’s playing aggressive, and we’re going to need him to.”

As for Bradley’s bread and butter, fellow pitbull Courtney Lee — after confusingly explaining that he’s OK despite getting poked in the eye — shared this nugget on Twitter: Sixers point guard Jrue Holiday asked Bradley and Lee to “cool the defense” following the loss. In case you forgot, Holiday’s an All-Star this season.

Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett
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