Celtics

Damian Lillard calls Avery Bradley the ‘best perimeter defender in the league’

Lillard and C.J. McCollum had high praise for Bradley's defense

Lillard scored 14 points on just 3-for-16 shooting Thursday night. Steve Dykes/USA TODAY

Avery Bradley is starting to make a name for himself around the NBA.

Following the Celtics’ 116-109 loss to the Trail Blazers on Thursday night, the sixth-year guard’s perimeter defense drew praise from Portland’s high-powered backcourt tandem of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.  The two are the NBA’s third-highest scoring duo, but have been held relatively in check by Bradley.

According to Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated, Lillard, who is fifth in the NBA in points per game (25.2), has been held to just 33.6 percent shooting from the floor and 27.5 percent from three in his seven head-to-head contests against Bradley.

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“I told him he was the best perimeter defender in the league,” Lillard told reporters via MassLive following Thursday’s game. “Because he is.”

Lillard scored 14 points on just 3-for-16 shooting Thursday night.

Bradley’s defense has been so stellar in the mind of McCollum (20.7 ppg) that the third-year sharpshooter is relieved the Blazers guards won’t have to match up against any perimeter enforcer of his stature in their own conference.

“I don’t think there are any teams that we are going to play that are as active defensively as the Boston Celtics, we are not going to play anyone like that in the West,” McCollum said via OregonLive. “We are not going to see any Avery Bradley’s in the Western Conference.”

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“He’s quick,” Lillard added. “He’s strong. Good anticipation. And a lot of guys just, people say they’re defenders. They look like defenders on some possessions, but that’s what he does. That’s what he wants to do. He’s there every possession. He doesn’t get screened. He’s tough. You’ve got to give credit where it’s due.”

Bradley currently sits in the top 25 in the NBA in steals per game (1.5), and previously won one NBA All-Defensive award, earning second-team honors in 2012-13.

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