Kyrie Irving and Avery Bradley hold high praise for one another
Last night, as the Celtics welcomed Avery Bradley back to Boston for the first time since he was traded to the Detroit Pistons, we got to witness a showdown we seen many times before - one of the best offensive players in the NBA, Kyrie Irving, vs one of the best defensive players in the league in Bradley. Although this time, after years of hoping Avery's lockdown defense would prevail, we found ourselves wishing that Irving would best the two-time NBA All-defensive team member last night.
While neither of them we're particularly effective on the offensive end Bradley got the best of Irving last night. Kyrie shot 6 for 16 (37.5%) and a paltry 1 for 6 from downtown. Although he did a good job getting other guys looks with nine assists his 6 turnovers were a season high for the C's point guard.
Irving spoke after the game, noting that had he corrected some of his missteps he felt the Celtics could've walked away with a win last night, but he also spoke highly of Bradley in his postgame comments. Kyrie says Avery is probably the best defender he plays against:
Kyrie Irving: "This one's eating at me a little bit just because I noticed a couple of decisions that could have made the turn."
On Avery Bradley's on-ball defense: "He's one of the best that I go against, if not the best."https://t.co/s4GLSeKgFy
Bradley made it known after the game that stifling Kyrie wasn't all his doing. It was a team effort and part of the gameplan going in. Via CBS Boston:
“Kyrie is a very good player. He goes out there and tries to make plays for his team. I just try to make everything hard on him,” Bradley told reporters after the game. “Guys at Kyrie’s level, all you can really do is make things hard on him and try to pressure him the entire game, pick your spots, give him different looks, and that’s what we tried to do – as a team. It wasn’t just me, it was team defense.”
A look back at the tape will reinforce Bradley's comments, as the Pistons did a great job as a team containing and disrupting Irving and the Celtics offense. Although Avery's on-ball defense was on full display last night as well:
The Pistons have been a big surprise thus far as they're sitting a half-game ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers for the #2 spot in the Eastern Conference standings at the quarter mark of the 2017-18 season. While they probably won't finish the season quite that high in the standings, they certainly seem playoff bound at this juncture. After beating the Celtics on the road last night they sure look like the real deal.
Perhaps we'll get a playoff series of Kyrie vs Avery in the near future, but until then we know Irving and the C's are looking forward to knotting the score with the Pistons again in just a few weeks in Detroit.
Kyrie Irving: “It kind of makes you want to circle it on the calendar for the next time we play them, just because of the way they reacted to the win.”