BOSTON – Avery Bradley has had a career filled with defensive gems against elite players. But few seem as iconic in the lexicon of Bradley awesomeness as the blocked shot he had against Dwyane Wade in 2012.
Since then, Bradley has steadily grown into one of the NBA’s best perimeter defenders, while Wade continued evolving into one of the best guards of this generation in helping lead the Miami Heat to multiple NBA titles during his time in South Beach.
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Now with the Chicago Bulls, Wade once again finds himself being charged with guiding a team into the playoffs.
As for Bradley, he has also grown into a greater leadership role on and off the court.
But at the end of the day, Bradley’s defense against Wade will go far in determining the winner of the shooting guard matchup.
Here’s a look at the Game 1 matchup between Avery Bradley and Dwyane Wade.
This matchup pits two players who are important to their team’s success, but for different reasons.
Bradley finished the regular season as Boston’s No. 2 scorer at 16.3 points per game. In addition, he averaged 6.1 rebounds which was second on the team and like his scoring average, assists (2.2) and effective field-goal percentage (eFG%), set a new career-high. The growth of his game from an offensive standpoint makes him a player that Boston counts on to contribute, and opponents now find themselves making a more conscious effort to not allow him to get into a rhythm. His ability to stand out at both ends of the floor is what makes both him and the Celtics so good this season.
With Wade, Bradley has a cagey veteran who like himself, does a good at rebounding and playing defense. But Wade isn’t the all-over-the-court Wade we knew from past years. He doesn’t attack the rim nearly as much as he used to, which is a smart move considering the wear and tear his body has endured for more than a decade. He’s averaging 18.3 points per game, his lowest scoring average since he dropped 16.2 points per game as a rookie in the 2003-2004 season. Wade’s assists (3.8), field-goal attempts (15.9) and field-goal percentage (.434) were all at career-low levels this season which speaks to how his play doesn’t impact the game as positively as it has in past years.