Bradley breaks out of slump with playoff career-high in Celtics’ crucial win
BOSTON — Limited to an average of six points in the last two games, Avery Bradley knew he had to do more in Game 5.
And with his teammates’ trust fueling him, Bradley came out smoking to power the Boston Celtics to a 123-101 win at home that put the Washington Wizards on the brink of elimination.
Bradley dropped 25 points in the Celtics’ best first half performance so far in the series, where they had to constantly battle back from the Wizards’ early leads.
He connected on 4-of-5 from the 3-point area as he teamed up with Jae Crowder, who had 14 points in the first two quarters, to help give Boston 22-point lead before halftime.
“My mindset was just to come out and be aggressive. I know I haven’t been playing to the best of my ability in the last two games, so this game I wanted to take the open shots and that’s what I tried to do tonight,” said Bradley, who only had five and seven points in Games 3 and 4, respectively.
He only scored four in the second half to finish with a playoff career-high 29 points but that hardly mattered as the rest of the Celtics kept the crowd at TD Arena here frenetic until the final buzzer.
Isaiah Thomas, who had a quiet night offensively, stretched Boston’s lead to its biggest at 26, 107-81, after a five-point swing with under nine minutes left.
Thomas and Crowder had 18 points and Horford 19 as the Celtics got contributions from everyone who played, which drove home Bradley’s point on how they are going to overcome the Wizards.
“It’s not just me. That’s one of the strengths of our team. It just happened to be me tonight. We just have to have that mindset to be prepared. It can’t just be Isaiah Thomas all night. We have a lot of guys that can score for us but we just have to be confident and prepared when your opportunity comes,” said the 26-year-old guard.
Thomas, though, knew that the opportunity for Bradley to impact the series, which can bring the Celtics back to their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance since 2012, was going to be Wednesday night.
“I’m proud of him. I told him before he game that I believe in him and that he’s going to have a great game and he did,” said the diminutive star guard .
Bradley, who put up a career performance despite nursing a hip pointer, didn’t surprise Thomas especially with how the Celtics, including himself, have been able to overcome adversity throughout the playoffs.
“He played like he’s supposed to. He played trough it. It’s the playoffs. We need him to play that way. He put his injuries aside and laced up his shoes and play. He was the key to this ball game—Offensively and defensively. We need that from him especially in Game 6.”