Avery Bradley and his Masque of the Green Death

THE "Red Death" had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal -- the redness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution. The scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the face of the victim, were the pest ban which shut him out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow-men. And the whole seizure, progress and termination of the disease, were the incidents of half an hour.

Edgar Allan Poe

Avery Bradley has traveled through roads whose signs had been already left by other mysterious characters in Celtics nation such as Tony Allen. Drafted with the 19th pick in the 2010 draft he had lofty expectations that had placed him as a more humble version of John Wall. 

His first moments as a pro were marked by ill fate as he already was injured at the moment of being drafted. A quite nagging ankle injury erased his name from the Summer Camp that year and therefore prevented him from getting into any kind of team shape. A big guard coached by a former excellent guard in Doc Rivers, he struggled to get significant minutes as a rookie. His name was dangled in trade talks come February 2010 and he seemed to be another JR Giddens in desguise.

Let's face it: Bradley couldn't lead the team, was unable to hit a jumper and he was as raw as no other player that I had seen wear our uniform before.

We banished him from the Celtics realm of glory.

Who would have thought that less than a year later Bradley would have made all his way back to our hearts of tough fans to the starting lineup of the team?

In the last few weeks everybody was hinting at the possibility of Avery and Rajon becoming the starting backcourt duo. Nobody wanted to take anything from the great and still awesome Ray Allen, but players and coaches felt it was a time for a change. It wasn't until Ray himself spoke to Doc that the full way back into the Celtics glory was fulfilled for Avery:

Ray came to me tonight and wanted to do it. We’re just trying to get ready for the playoffs and our rotations.

And thus the story has taken a 360 degree turn. The Celtics fans were anxious about the second year player to be a starter in this team.

From Avery Badly to Avery Proudly.

In order to achieve all this, Bradley had to find himself in the depths of the league's purgatory. First he was a D-leaguer such as his fellow teammate from Wisconsin. Then he had to dwell in the uneasy territory of the DNP's and the inactive list worlds. Not even close to Doc River's doghouse.

He had much time to practice and think, work and meditate.

Through hard work and deep knowledge of his inner and physical abilities, Bradley became an even stronger defender, and learned to find his spots on the floor: there where you don't expect anybody to be you will glimpse a quick and efficient Avery blazing his way to the rim. He is a fast dagger that easily get two or even three points in barely a second. His shots are falling, even his free throw shooting is becoming more reliable.

But the biggest mark of Avery's resurgence is his Masque. He carries the Masque of the Green Death with him. He attacks the opponent and constantly neglects him. He imposes frustration, lack of self confidence and the feeling that the player has just been infected with some kind of pestilent sickness

"He's a pain in the ass," Popovich said. "I mean, the game starts and you know what he's going to do. He's going to cut from the corner to the bucket and lay it in. He's going to cut diagonally from the top. He knows his role and he does it very, very well. He killed us all night long."
Players such as Dwayne Wade, Russell Westbrook and Jameer Nelson have suffered from this particular ulcer in his latest meetings with Bradley. They can barely breathe, they look at their teammates in agony, waiting for their coaches to sub them up as fast as possible.

Yes, maybe the Celtics fans were right about one thing: he is Avery Badly, but extremely bad for his opponents.

Avery's revenge carries the form of a Masque, found in the depths of the league and that now is stung and distilled within the league's guards as the Celtics claim once again for glory in the post season.

Welcome back, Avery. We certainly needed you.