The beloved Avery Bradley returns to TD Garden

Avery Bradley returns tonight to TD Garden, and the cheers from the now-rival Celtics fans will be loud. What can you say about this guy? As a Celtic he did everything asked of him, and he did it quietly. He got better every year he was here, and he never complained, even when he knew he was probably heading out the door. And he is the guy you want your sister or daughter to date if he was available.

Yesterday, November 26, was Avery's birthday. He just turned 27. As a Piston he is averaging 16.8 PPG (second on the team), 3.1 RPG and 1.4 SPG (tied for first on the team). He is shooting 44.1% from the field and a terrific 42.5% from three-point land. The numbers are very close to those in his final season in Boston. Detroit is presently ranked second in the East, behind Boston, with a 12-6 record. Andre Drummond is having his best season, averaging 13.7 points, 15.2 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game. He is now shooting free throws at an improved 60.5% clip, another reason for the surprising record.

The Boston fans won't be the only ones to honor AB when he returns. The entire Celtics organization should be involved, including former teammates. Here is the Boston Herald's Steve Bulpett with a few quotes from Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart:

“AB’s just a class act,” Rozier said. “He was never too high, never too low. He’s a great guy, especially off the court. I remember me coming in my rookie year, and I was just going through so many tough times. I wasn’t playing and then getting sent to the D-League. He was always there just giving me words of encouragement. He was just great — somebody to have in your ear, somebody to have in your corner.”

“Oh, he was huge,” said Smart, who spent three years with him. “Both of us being defenders, real aggressive defenders, he just talked me through things since I came here my rookie year. He really helped me get through what I needed to get through.

“When I first got here, he was really one of the first guys that kind of showed me the ropes. That was huge for me.”

Avery has openly stated that he holds no hard feelings for Boston trading him to Detroit. We miss him terribly, but he is thriving in his new environment. Here is the Detroit News' Goeff Robinson on Bradley's impact on Detroit's success:

When Bradley was traded to the Pistons in July, it wasn’t thought that the Pistons would be near the top of conference standings. But that’s where they are, and a lot of that turnaround can be attributed to Bradley’s presence.

It's homecoming time for AB tonight. He has become a critical part of a very good team. The TD Garden welcome will be warm and loud. And, as always when discussing Avery, it will be a bit sad.

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Photo via Drew Hallowell/NBAE/Getty Images