Avery Bradley: Celtics not ‘playing the right way’
|03.27.13 at 12:25 am ET|
Avery Bradley‘s performance had New York media wondering what all the fuss has been over the 22-year-old.
Average Bradley better be the second coming of Michael Cooper defensively because offensively he’s a liability.
— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) March 27, 2013
Bradley submitted another poor shooting effort in Tuesday night’s 100-85 loss to the Knicks, making just 3-of-11 attempts and dropping his field goal percentage to only 30.5 percent over his last eight games. In that same stretch, a 2-6 run for the Celtics, he has committed as many turnovers as he has collected assists (14).
“He’s struggling,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers, whose team has lost five straight games. “Listen, Avery’s trying his best. His shot is struggling right now. He can shoot the ball, but when you’re thinking about it, he’s clearly going through something. And so we’re going to have to to try to get him through that.
“Especially now with all the guys out, we’re going to need him to be effective. I’m probably going to have to do something to try to get him going more, not less. But I feel for him, because he wants to play hard, he wants to play right, but you can see it. So, we’ll get him going.”
The most troubling part of Bradley’s offense has been his inability to finish at the rim. He entered Tuesday’s game shooting just 45.7 percent within eight feet, and he clanged another four gimmes against the Knicks. He’s missed significantly more layups (76) than he has corner 3-pointers (53), where he’s been decent despite his struggles.
Even more concerning was Knicks guard J.R. Smith‘s 32 points off the bench against the Celtics backcourt. Sharing the load with Jordan Crawford rather than Courtney Lee didn’t help matters, but Bradley couldn’t contain the taller Smith. Then again, neither could anybody else on the C’s depleted roster.
“We weren’t playing hard on either of the floor,” said Bradley, who finished with just six points and zero assists. “We weren’t pushing the ball. We just weren’t playing the right way. You can’t really say it’s surprising, but you can say that we just haven’t been playing the right way the last five games. [Injuries] play into it a little bit, but we can’t control that. All we can do is control how we’ve been playing, and we haven’t been playing the right way.”
Only five guards have dropped 30 points on the Celtics all season, and three have done it in the past eight games. The other recent two: Gerald Henderson and Jerryd Bayless. Not exactly Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
So, what can Bradley and the Celtics do to correct their recent offensive and defensive woes? “Execute,”he said. “Play harder on both ends of the floor. Just give more effort. Don’t let our offense determine our defense.”
Remember, Bradley helped save the Celtics season. The C’s improved defensive numbers since his return on Jan. 2 are no coincidence, and likewise there’s a correlation between his recent struggles and the team’s 2-7 stretch. If they’re going to survive the next two weeks without Kevin Garnett, they need Bradley at his best.
“Even if he was playing, we’d have to grind it out,” he said. “That’s what kind of team we are.”
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