When Rajon Rondo went down hard on a drive to the basket and injured his wrist against the Toronto Raptors a couple of weeks ago, the Celtics were on their way to ending a five game losing streak. At first, it didn't seem so bad, but the thoughts crept in: "If the C's struggled so much with him so far this season, what happens if he's out for an extended length of time?!?!"
Time to hit the panic button? Maybe not so much. Obviously, the shred of title contention hopes for this team largely hangs on the health and effectiveness of Rondo but there are actually times when "minor" injuries can be a blessing in disguise. With Rondo and Keyon Dooling missing significant games since then, Avery Bradley has been on trial by fire. While his honey-badger man-to-man defense has been rightfully praised, there's also been a small, but important aspect in his offensive game that has Doc raving.
After last night's shecllacking against those same Raptors, Doc stated that he would like AB to emulate Andre Miller's off-the-ball cutting. He's been quite effective at it since Rondo has been out which is albeit a small sample size. Still, it's worth noting and examining from the GreenLab, which displays a handful of AB's work. Check out the clips below for more details:
Badger Cut vs Dallas: Keyon Dooling is setting up a pick and roll with KG, and AB positions himself at the right side baseline. As Dallas defends it well, Dooling passes to Bass in order to get a better passing angle to KG in the post. It takes a bit too long and KG realizes he's risking a 3-second violation and Bradley executes the Badger Cut as Jason Terry left him to drop down and help on KG. Terry is too late to stop AB's lay-up.
Badger Cut vs IND: AB fires an outlet pass in transition to Pierce on the right wing. Instead of what looks like a Pierce/KG pick and roll setup, Pierce slashes to the hoop while both his man (Darren Collison) and Roy Hibbert are too busy focused on both Pierce and KG. Bradley cuts for two.
Badger Cut vs PHX: The setup is an out of bounds play, with Ray taking it out near the C's bench on the right sideline. AB is set on the left baseline and doesn't move for the entire set, until the end. Bass sets a screen for Pierce to receive the ball. Then JO and Pierce work a 2-man game for a few pick and roll attempts. As Pierce begins to slash, Bradley catches his man Nash falling asleep, striking again with the Badger Cut.
Badger Cut vs TOR: Bradley calls the set from the top of the key. There are several screens, cycling the ball essentially looking to free Quis up for his slashing abilities. Once again, AB's man (Calderon) is focused on helping out on the slashing Quis, but loses Bradley on another cut to the hoop.
Badger Cut vs CLE: This is essentially the same set as the Toronto set above, except it involves Ray Allen acting as Quis.
Badger Cuts @ CLE: First Play – Bradley passes to KG who is set up on the right high post. After this, he cuts to the right baseline, setting a screen for Pierce. Pierce receives the ball from KG, but Jamison is able to deflect it a little. Still, the idea works the same, as Pierce starts to either slash, or work a pick and roll with KG. Kyrie Irving forgets about Bradley by hedging up and helping on Pierce, who delivers the pass to the cutting AB for two.
Second play (0:15 mark) – After Cleveland gets back in transition, the Celtics try to go at the Jamison/Pierce matchup. After it gets defended, Irving is floating in the lane, half paying attention to AB. He tries to tell Varejao to help out, but it's too late as Bradley sneaks in for two.
Badger Cut vs TOR: Similar to the PHX example, as it begins from an out of bounds set. Bradley inbounds the ball into the post, to KG. This time however, there are no pick and roll or slashing options. Instead, AB simply goes immediately to the opposite baseline, then waits to strike as KG backs his man down. Toronto completely is focused on KG and loses Bradley to another lay-up on the baseline.