Originally written on Celtics Town  |  Last updated 11/18/14


Avery Bradley made just two field goals last night, but they were early and he was super aggressive and — who knows? — maybe the resulting onslaught never would have occurred without the kick start from Boston’s most baby-faced guard.

Bradley didn’t know he would even suit up until just more than an hour before tip-off, when Boston’s team doctors watched him shoot jumpers with a bulky wrap on his left shoulder and gave him the thumbs up to continue. Due to the rate at which Bradley hoisted jumpers in the first quarter, his right shoulder might have likewise become sore after the game’s first five minutes.

If there was a better example of the 21-year old’s booming confidence, it does not immediately come to mind. And if there was a better measurement of his changing league-wide perception than the way Atlanta sprinted at him to close out on his shooting hand, I am not aware. This was a critical Game 4 of Bradley’s first playoff series (he received DNP-CDs in every postseason outing last year), and he would not stop looking for his offense, at least before foul trouble stole a large portion of his rhythm.

He launched and missed a three two minutes in. A couple possessions later he caught a pass in the corner and fired again. Another miss. If this had been last season, or even January, he would have retreated with tail in hands and an elephant sitting atop his confidence, crushing it. But this is now and Bradley is different, and so he dribbled off a screen and drilled a 20-footer on the move. The Celtics were ahead, 8-6. They stopped the Hawks on the ensuing possession, Rondo corralled the rebound and Boston was back to the races. Bradley ran straight to the three-point arc. Rondo saw him and showed a level of trust that certainly didn’t exist before Bradley’s post-All-Star break rise. He found Bradley in the corner and the second-year combo-guard, or whatever the hell he is, canned a trifecta in transition.

The TD Garden crowd came to life like it never did in Game 3, when the Celtics dragged their feet throughout an overtime victory. Bradley had taken hold of the city, the series, even his teammates, and — like they were inflatable water rafts — breathed until they could float into sea. The Celtics scored on their next possession to build a 13-6 advantage. The Hawks called a timeout, but the waves didn’t stop crashing over their heads. The score ballooned to 32-19 at the end of one, 64-41 at halftime and 80-43 when Bradley buried a free throw with 8:12 left in the third quarter. The third-quarter charity shot followed a scary moment when Bradley took an inadvertent (and very slight) shove in the back. He crashed, with his injured left shoulder prominently involved, into the basket stanchion. But he bounced up and the Celtics crowd could exhale.

Bradley would miss his final three field goals and finished with just six points. But while discussing his availability for Game 5, he gave one more glimpse into his ever-strengthening psyche:

“I’m ready, and I’ll be ready for Round 2,” he said.

You know, assuming the Celtics get there.

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Bears to bench Jay Cutler, start Jimmy Clausen

Jim Harbaugh to Michigan speculation building

Heat lose a key player with McRoberts out for rest of season

Belichick: Ryan is 'buttering me up' with Hall of Fame praise

Marshall: Bears need to gel and do some kumbaya

Ray McDonald investigated for possible sexual assault

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Red Sox appear content with rotation despite lack of true ace

Iguodala gets technical for mocking Conley travel

Bo Pelini takes shot at Nebraska during introductory presser

Belichick: Patriots need to play better against the Jets

Rex Ryan doesn't want to get in trouble talking about Revis

Bears Conte willing to shorten lifespan for NFL career

Brad Halsey claimed he was on cocaine for Bonds record HR

Wade Miley confident in health, diet after trade from D-Backs

When bowl results mean more for one school than another

Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson lead in 2014 athlete Google searches

Molding the market: All eyes on Max Scherzer

Another "Fire John Idzik' plane flies at Jets practice

Four can't-miss match-ups in NFL's Week 16

Report: Some Browns shunned Manziel during pregame

Making an attempt to understand Celtics' priorities

Gronk makes awkward sausage joke on 'Top Chef'

Walmart ripped for confusing Anthony/Lin doll

RG3 taking sabbatical from social media for rest of season

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

When bowl results mean more for one school than another

Four can't-miss match-ups in NFL's Week 16

RG3 quits social media for season

Each NFL division’s MVP

5 NFLers who must step up in Week 16

Most impressive college hoops teams

Five reasons why FSU is going to win the CFB Playoff

Boxer admits to dive in Rourke bout

FCC heard about Brady's swearing?

Embracing the hate of the Eagles-Cowboys Rivalry

DeSean Jackson mocks Eagles

Andrew Hawkins defends shirt

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.