ORLANDO — Avery Bradley is a shooting guard who was playing point guard with Rajon Rondo sidelined.
That forced (but necessary) experiment had mixed results, and two games ago, Celtics coach Brad Stevens made a switch, inserting Jordan Crawford into the starting lineup.
The plan was to have Crawford and Bradley share point guard duties, but in actuality, Crawford has played that role far more than Bradley.
And that switch has more than paid off as the Celtics have won both of those games, the latest coming Friday, when they snapped the Orlando Magic’s three-game winning streak with a 91-89 win at Amway Center.
Bradley agreed that playing off the ball had helped his game overall, as the duties that came with playing point guard did overwhelm him at times.
“I’m not just always having the ball in my hand and have to create for everybody else,” Bradley said. “I can get a feel as a game goes on. I feel more comfortable playing with Jordan, or anybody. I just feel like I’m getting more confidence as the game goes on because I know my role. I know what [I need] to get me going and that’s my defense.”
Yes, defense, and Crawford explained why Bradley can be more effective at it now.
“Avery doesn’t have to spend as much energy bringing the ball up, so he can exert a little more of his energy into picking up people, and that’s what he did,” Crawford said. “He made some huge plays. He’s the catalyst for it and then everybody is communicating and believing in themselves.”
By “huge plays,” Crawford was referring to Bradley’s game-high three steals against the Magic, two coming in the decisive fourth quarter.
But the Celtics have also turned the ball over less in the last two games: 16 against Utah and then 11 against Orlando after averaging a league-worst 21 per game going into Wednesday’s game.
The credit for the improved ball security belongs to Crawford, who Stevens has said brings a calming presence at the point guard position, as was the case Friday.
“I definitely want to show my teammates that I’m confident in bringing the ball up so they’ll be confident and calm and get into sets so we’ll be organized,” Crawford said.
“They’re doing a great job of making me look good and the rest of the teammates good.”
Eye on colleges
Stevens was focused on the Celtics game, but he was also thinking about Butler, where he coached last season, and about college basketball, which held its opening night Friday.
Stevens said he talks to Brandon Miller, his successor at Butler, “all the time” while also checking in on his former players there.
“I’ve invested a lot in those guys and they invested a lot for us, so I don’t want to completely lose track of that by any means,” Stevens said before the game.
Matthew Graves, one of Stevens’s former assistants, was set to make his head coaching debut with South Alabama Friday as his team faced the University of Detroit, and Stevens said he sent Graves a text wishing him luck.
“You’re always invested more in the people that you know and the people that you’re really tight with and that you’re friends with,” Stevens said.
Butler is scheduled to open its season Saturday at home against Lamar. The Celtics will be playing that day against the Heat in Miami.
“I’ll be interested to see if my family watches our game [Saturday night] or the Butler game, so we’ll see,” Stevens said, half-joking.
Fan of rookie
Stevens was already familiar with Magic rookie guard Victor Oladipo before Friday. Stevens’s Butler team upset Oladipo and No. 1-ranked Indiana in overtime in Indianapolis last season.
Oladipo, the second overall pick, had 18 points, 4 assists, 4 steals, 3 rebounds, and 2 blocks in that game.
“I’ve always been a huge Oladipo fan,” said Stevens. “Last year he grabbed a loose ball and laid it in while our guys were still diving on it, and I remember thinking, ‘Oh my goodness, is he athletic and quick.’ ”
Oladipo scored 9 points off the bench Friday on 3-of-12 shooting and had three costly turnovers, including one late when Bradley stripped him in the backcourt and turned it into a 3-point play.
“He’s a young player,” Bradley said. “When I play against younger players, I just try to speed them up.”
Breakthrough in fourth
Jeff Green scored on a tip-in in the fourth quarter, his first fourth-quarter basket in five games. He hadn’t scored in the fourth quarter since the Celtics’ first game, against Toronto . . . The Magic played a video tribute thanking Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee, and Keith Bogans, who all played for the Magic. The tribute was part of the franchise’s 25-year anniversary celebration . . . This game was a matchup of the league’s two youngest coaches: Stevens (37) and Jacque Vaughn (38).