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Bradley's defense changes the game

Second-year guard Avery Bradley may have finally found his groove -- and his role -- after sparking the Celtics to victory on Wednesday night against the New Jersey Nets:

It was too quiet.

Avery Bradley was sitting on the bench and couldn't help but be struck by how somber TD Garden seemed Wednesday night as the Boston Celtics trudged their way through a visit from an undermanned New Jersey Nets squad that was hanging around into the third quarter.

AP Photo/Elise Amendola

Avery Bradley did the dirty work to enliven the Celtics and the TD Garden crowd.Teammate Sasha Pavlovic leaned in and told Bradley that, if they got on the floor again, they had to turn things around with their defense. And while solid on-ball defense is rarely what brings the Garden faithful to its feet, Bradley would garner the night's biggest reaction with what may have been his most inspiring sequence as a pro.

Moments after drilling a corner 3-pointer -- the first of his NBA career -- Bradley pressured Nets guard Jordan Farmar into a dazzling midcourt turnover that sent the Garden into a frenzy.

Captain Paul Pierce seemed particularly inspired, delivering an emphatic chest bump that might have knocked 18 months of frustration straight out of Bradley.

The Celtics topped the Nets 89-70 in the type of ugly win that few will remember at season's end. But for Bradley, it might have been a career-altering moment, the point at which he made a leap to certified NBA role player.

All with his defense.

"Sitting there on the bench, you could just tell it was kind of dead in there," Bradley said. "Sasha was like, 'If we get in, we're going to lift up the energy, we're going to do whatever we can do.' My strength is on the defensive end, so that's what I was focusing on. If I got in on defense, I was going to try to lift the energy."

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