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Saturday, November 16, 2013
Avery Bradley atones with offense

By Chris Forsberg

Earlier this week, Avery Bradley expressed disappointment in himself for failing to give his all on the court. For whatever reason, the fourth-year guard just wasn't himself in a pair of recent games, prone to untimely missteps that hurt his team as the Boston Celtics embarked on what's now a three-game losing streak.

Jesse Johnson/USA TODAY SportsAvery Bradley pulls up for a jumper against the Timberwolves.
On a night thin on positives, Bradley was maybe Boston's only real silver lining in a 106-88 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday at the Target Center. Bradley scored a team-high 27 points on 12-of-23 shooting. The offensive outburst was one point shy of his career high (28 versus Atlanta on April 20, 2012) and matched his career high for field goals in a game.

Bradley thrived in the midrange, making 9-of-13 attempts in that zone. Last week we spotlighted how much better Bradley has been playing off the ball, but carrying the offense on a night when Boston's other go-to presences disappeared (Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger were a combined 1-of-12 shooting for 5 points) was a nice reminder of Bradley's offensive potential from that shooting-guard spot.

Bradley is playing with immense confidence in his midrange shot, connecting on a sterling 47.7 percent (31-of-65) of attempts this season. Early in Saturday's game, he fearlessly fired away while coming off screens at the top of the key. And he was able to create shots off the dribble on the wing, stepping back at times to create space for his jumper.

One area Bradley is still looking to re-establish is his 3-point game. Back in that breakout 2011-12 campaign, he shot 40.7 percent beyond the arc and was lethal from the corner. At the moment, Bradley is a mere 5-of-24 (20.8 percent) on 3-pointers (and just 23.5 percent from that corner spot).

Bradley is slowly digging himself out of the offensive hole he fell into while playing out of position at point guard to start the season. Boston's offense still lags with him on the floor. Through 11 games, Boston owns an offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) of only 94.4 in Bradley's 328 minutes of floor time. That's three points less than the team's season average (97.3) and that number jumps to 101.9 when Bradley is on the bench. What's more, Boston's defensive rating isn't as glossy as you might expect, hovering at 100.2 with Bradley on the floor (it is a point better than the team's average and it does rise about three points with him off the floor).

As this week proved, there's still plenty of room for improvement -- and more consistency -- from Bradley at both ends of the floor. But you know defense is typically going to be there from the All-Defensive second-teamer, and games like Saturday show again that he does have potential to be an offensive threat.

A few more thoughts after Boston's loss Saturday to the Wolves: