Celtics fan or not, if you seriously foresaw this hampered Boston team blowing out the Miami Heat yesterday afternoon at home by a score of 91-72, I'd like to know what you were smoking.
With no Ray Allen and a thin bench, you'd think a team with LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and company would've had a 29-point lead at one point. Instead, it was the other way around, and the biggest reason why was the remarkable play of one Rajon Rondo, who recorded his fifth triple-double of the season (16 points, 14 assists, and 11 rebounds). The other reason the C's blew them out: the Heat just stopped trying, as they got outscored 31-12 in the third quarter.
Having said that, the secret to the recent success of the Celtics, who have moved up to 4th place in the Eastern Conference (and one full game ahead of the struggling Philadelphia 76ers in the Atlantic Division), is the defense of Allen's replacement in the starting lineup, second-year player Avery Bradley. This kid's defense has been praised throughout the year by head coach Doc Rivers whenever he gets significant minutes (which hadn't been often until Allen went down with an ankle injury a couple of weeks ago).
But now, the Heat have seen for themselves how impressive he is. In fact, LeBron said Bradley is one of the best defenders "baseline to baseline" in the NBA this season, and one of the highlights of the game was Bradley's athletic block on a Dwayne Wade shot attempt. He also held the Heat star to just 15 points on 6-for-17 FGA.
The C's are now 10-1 without Ray Allen, and were 20-21 with him in the lineup. With Bradley starting this season, the team in green is 11-4, and undefeated in the last five contests.
With Allen due back soon (and possible Wednesday against San Antonio), talk of him coming off the bench so Bradley can continue his excellent play as a starter (in the shooting guard position) has already started across the Internet. It's not such a crazy idea, since Bradley has not only been able to defend, but score as well, having averaged 14.6 points in his last five games in nearly 40 minutes per contest.