When Avery Bradley didn’t get off the bench in the Miami Heat’s season opening loss to the Orlando Magic, some people (including me) scratched their heads. Here was a player Pat Riley personally pitched shortly after free agency opened, and he didn’t play one second in the first game of the season.
That changed in Miami’s Christmas Day match-up against the New Orleans Pelicans. And from the looks of it, Bradley will keep his spot in the rotation.
The Christmas Day Smothering of J.J. Redick— Christian Hernandez (@ICanBeYourHerro) December 25, 2020
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In his first performance in a Heat uniform, Bradley held his opponents to 2-of-10 shooting, including just 1-for-7 from downtown. He chased J.J. Redick over screens — he ran 2.22 miles, the second-most on the team behind Duncan Robinson — and picked up two steals.
But what was just as impressive was Bradley’s respectable offensive game. The backup point guard knocked down two 3-pointers — including one midway through the fourth quarter that put Miami up 11 — and had a nice and-one layup in transition with less than three minutes to go.
Bradley will provide a huge boost to Miami if he knocks down 3-pointers and provides the sturdy defense he showcased yesterday. That’s also what made Jae Crowder such a valuable player during his brief stint with the Heat.
This solid showing from Bradley could leave Kendrick Nunn out of the rotation. Nunn started all of last season, but was abysmal all throughout the NBA bubble save for a few performances in the Finals. Nunn didn’t inspire any confidence outside of the bubble with a pedestrian eight-minute stint in the season opener. Spoelstra didn’t even play him in the second half of that game.
After Miami’s win Friday, Erik Spoelstra said he wanted to bring Bradley along slowly. But the two-time All-Defensive Team point guard is clearly ready to contribute. He can help Miami remain competitive among the East’s top teams.