Q&A with Celtics Guard Avery Bradley, the NBA's Best Steph Curry Stopper Yet

Brian Robb@CelticsHubFeatured ColumnistDecember 15, 2015

Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry grabs a loose ball away from Boston Celtics' Avery Bradley during the second half of the Golden State Warriors 106-101 win over the Boston Celtics in an NBA basketball game in Boston Sunday, March 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Winslow Townson/Associated Press

WALTHAM, Mass. — It’s hard to find a player who did a better job defending Stephen Curry than Boston Celtics shooting guard Avery Bradley did last Friday night. 

Curry managed to post a game-high 38 points in the thrilling double-overtime win over the Celtics at TD Garden, but Bradley and his teammates consistently ruffled the league’s reigning MVP. Curry shot a season-low 33 percent from the field, missed 18 shots (9-of-27) and turned the ball over a season-high eight times in 47 minutes.

After the game, Curry praised Bradley for limiting his efficiency on the offensive end.

“He’s been tough the last three years we’ve played against him,” Curry admitted. “He loves a challenge, and I do, too. I know he doesn’t like it, but I was happy he got that sixth foul in overtime.”

Bleacher Report sat down with Bradley in the aftermath of his impressive effort to learn just what exactly goes into slowing down the league’s best shooter.

Bleacher Report: Describe what your preparation is like ahead of facing a player like Curry. Do you watch a lot of film of him? How do you spend your time?

Avery Bradley: To be honest, it is really just going out and playing out as hard as I can for my team. That’s it. I didn’t need to watch film or anything, just trying to make everything hard on him. That was my thought process going into the game—try to execute that. That was the most important thing for me, every possession playing hard.

Winslow Townson/Associated Press

B/R: For a shooter as talented as Curry, though, there must be certain aspects of his game you tried to focus in on ahead of time, right?

Bradley: I think the most crucial thing is picking your spots [against him]. When I’m defending [a shooter], I always think of what they do well and try to take that away from them. You want to keep them from getting into a rhythm or getting to the line, because I feel like that’s what gets them going. That’s something Curry excels at, finding those easy looks. Everyone worries about his perimeter shooting, but the backdoor layups can hurt you just as much.

B/R: So what was the game plan specifically against him? You guys have obviously seen him a couple of times a year for the past few seasons now, but he’s clearly playing at a different level now. Did you guys adjust anything based on that? How were you and your teammates so effective in limiting him?

Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Bradley: It was kind of similar to our game plan for [Charlotte Hornets guard] Kemba [Walker]. Really, it's the same for all of the shooting point guards we face. Just don’t leave them in the pick-and-roll. The bigs weren’t supposed to leave until the ball was out of his hands. That’s really our team defense for every [point guard], though. We were trying to go out there and try to make every play hard on him as a team. That’s what we try to do every single night—try to take people out of their strengths.

B/R: One way of taking a player out of his game is making a guy like Curry work hard on the defensive end. You did well with that right out of the gate, scoring 15 points in the first quarter of the loss. Was getting your own offense going a priority for you entering the contest?

Bradley: I feel like that should be people’s mindset, but I just went into the game not thinking at all about that. I was just being aggressive and playing. It worked out perfect, because he had to guard both ends of the floor, and I’m pretty sure he was tired having to do that.

B/R: Evan Turner spent most of his time guarding Curry when you were off the floor, especially after you fouled out in the first overtime. Were you surprised with his ability to hold his ground against Curry?

Bradley: I wasn’t surprised with Evan’s play. I knew he was going to go out there and give it his all for us. I feel like he did an amazing job. I’m happy with the way a lot of guys played, even James Young. Not only was [Curry] a challenge; Draymond Green was too. They have a lot of good players. We gave effort, and that’s how it should be every single night no matter who is on the floor. It makes me happy knowing my teammates are always going to have my back defensively, and I’m always going to have theirs.

B/R: You and your teammates pestered Curry into a miserable shooting night overall, yet he still managed to finish with a game-high 38 points when the double-overtime marathon had ended. Did it frustrate you to see him score that much despite your effective defense?

Bradley: I feel like that’s going to happen. Whenever you are that confident in yourself and your teammates have that kind of confidence in you, especially on the road. Even when he missed a few shots or takes a bad shot, he still had that confidence to go out there and make the next shot.

Charles Krupa/Associated Press

B/R: Taking out the fact that you guys lost the game, were you satisfied with your performance against him? 

Bradley: I would hope no one would be satisfied with a loss. It’s not like they were a “God” team. We wanted to beat them. They are just a regular NBA team. It was unfortunate we weren’t able to after the way we played.

Brian Robb covers the Celtics for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.

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