BOSTON (CBS) — Andre Drummond (26 points, 22 rebounds) grabbed the headlines for his dominating performance in the Pistons’ 118-108 win over the Celtics on Monday night. But another major factor for Detroit was returning ex-Celtic Avery Bradley and his stifling defense against Kyrie Irving.
The Pistons constantly threw double-teams at Irving and frequently mixed up their matchups against the Celtics’ superstar point guard, but for the most part it was Bradley’s elite defense getting in his way. Ultimately, the Pistons held Irving to a relatively meager 18 points on just 6-for-16 (37.5 percent) from the field.
Bradley didn’t agree that he “got in Kyrie’s head” on Monday night, crediting a team-wide effort for making life difficult for the C’s leading scorer.
“Kyrie is a very good player. He goes out there and tries to make plays for his team. I just try to make everything hard on him,” Bradley told reporters after the game. “Guys at Kyrie’s level, all you can really do is make things hard on him and try to pressure him the entire game, pick your spots, give him different looks, and that’s what we tried to do – as a team. It wasn’t just me, it was team defense.”
Irving finished with a poor minus-21 rating with a whopping six turnovers, almost as many as the Pistons’ starting five combined (seven). Bradley led Detroit with a plus-14 rating, mixing in 13 points, five assists, and two steals.
Although he termed Monday night “just a regular game” for himself, Bradley had to acknowledge his triumphant return to his second home in Boston. The guard was honored with a video tribute before the game to show appreciation for his seven solid seasons in a Celtics uniform. Then he took the floor and did the same thing for the Pistons that he did for so long with the C’s.
“It meant a lot to me. I appreciated it,” Bradley said of the pregame honors. “My seven years here, I tried go out there and compete hard and leave everything out on the floor for [the Celtics]. For them to show that respect back to me, it means a lot to me. Like I said, this will always be my second home and I love all the fans in Boston.”
Mark your calendars for Dec. 10 in Detroit, when the Celtics and Pistons square off next in what’s suddenly become a key conference battle. Irving can’t wait to get his next crack at them, and while he may not admit it publicly, Bradley probably can’t wait either.