NBA Basketball

Bradley makes return as Pistons visit Celtics

BOSTON -- During the offseason, the Boston Celtics made what was viewed as a salary cap move by shipping Avery Bradley and a second-round draft pick to the Detroit Pistons for Marcus Morris.

So far, the trade has been a hit on both sides.

On Monday night, they meet for the first time this season when the Pistons (12-6) visit the Celtics (18-3).

"I understand what they did and I have no hard feelings at all," Bradley said Sunday. "I ended up in a great situation, in a great organization, so I'm happy and they're playing well -- they're playing great basketball right now -- so at the end of the day it's about making the best decision for the team."

Morris has battled a balky knee, started the season late and has had to be rested, staying in Boston when the Celtics traveled to Indiana for their Saturday night win over the Pacers. That was the second half of a back-to-back and part of a busy schedule that called for three games in four nights.

Bradley, who has battled shooting woes (2-for-11 from 3-point range) the last two games, is averaging 16.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists for Detroit.

Having left Boston involuntarily, you can expect Celtics fans to welcome Bradley, who turned 27 Sunday, back in a friendly manner (he also may well receive a video tribute from the team). He was a loyal soldier during his seven years in Boston, too often limited by injuries but always important -- on both ends of the floor.

Bradley is sixth all-time in TD Garden scoring with 2,360 points. His defense, a specialty, was a bit overlooked when he didn't make the NBA's All-Defensive team last year.

"That's ridiculous," Charlotte's Kemba Walker said before facing the Pistons last month. "He's probably, if not the best, one of the best on-ball defenders in our league. He's one of those guys where, 'Damn, you got to play against him tonight?' He's like the perfect defender. When you teach defense, he's the guy that you would like to learn from."

In 11 games with his new team, Morris has averaged 12.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists, shooting 36.8 percent from 3-point range.

Oh, and did we mention the Celtics are 18-3?

"I feel like I could play," Morris said before staying behind Friday night. "If this was playoffs I'd be playing, or if it was a game we really needed I'd be playing. But we're on a good run. Our rookies are playing well and our young guys are playing well.

"Coach would rather I sleep in my own bed, rehab tomorrow. (I will) probably go to the Jay-Z concert, do something. I'd rather be on the road with my team, honestly. But he made the decision."

The Pistons hit town off a come-from-behind 99-98 win at Oklahoma City that raised their road record to 5-4. They are 7-3 overall in their last 10 games.

The Celtics had their 16-game winning streak snapped in Miami last Wednesday, then routed the Orlando Magic on Friday night before rallying to beat the Pacers on Saturday without Morris and Jaylen Brown -- the latter attending his best friend's funeral in Atlanta.

Amazingly, the Celtics are 6-2 this season when trailing by double digits in a game.

The teams have split two games at TD Garden each of the last four years, but the Celtics were 3-1 against the Pistons last season thanks to two wins in Auburn Hills, Mich.

Entering Sunday, the Eastern Conference was leading the West -- regarded as the better conference -- 62-59 this season -- Boston's 6-0 and Detroit's 6-1 records leading the way.

Updated November 26, 2017

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