PHILADELPHIA — The Celtics count on Avery Bradley to be a defensive stopper. But Bradley is proving he can fit into the team’s 3-point scheme.
Bradley leads the Celtics in 3-point shooting after six exhibition games after a 20-point performance (6 for 9 on 3s) as Boston took a 111-91 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers Thursday night.
But Bradley is still thinking defense first.
Asked if he prefers excelling on defense or on 3s, Bradley was clear.
“Defensive stopper,” he said. “That’s because I may not make 3s every single night but I know I can go out there and give my all on the defensive end every single night.”
Bradley is now 15 for 28 (53.6 percent) on 3-pointers in the preseason.
“I told Avery the biggest thing that he can do, he needs to let his defense fuel his offense and not the other way around,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “And tonight I really thought he did that. And I really think that when he plays his best that’s what he does.
“That’s normal. When you’re locked in and engaged defensively you’re always a little bit quicker to loose balls, you shoot it a little bit better, you do all that stuff. He is first and foremost a guy that has a chance to be a really good defender night in and night out. But just like a really good offensive player, guys want to play against those guys to prove themselves. And so he has to prove it every night. That’s something we have talked about quite a bit.”
Bradley converted his first three 3-pointers, scoring 11 points as the Celtics took a 33-22 first-quarter lead.
“I’m a defensive player first,” Bradley said. “Like I always say, you can have an off shooting night but never an off defensive night, and that’s my mindset. I just have to go out there with high energy and play as hard as I can and let the game come to me. That’s my main focus. I don’t think it matters if I score first quarter, second quarter, it really doesn’t matter, as long as I play hard.”
Bradley wasn’t alone. Jared Sullinger went 4 for 6 on 3s in scoring 21 points, and the starters were 15 for 29 from beyond the arc. The Celtics also had 34 assists, 10 from former 76er Evan Turner.
“Kelly [Olynyk] can make the 3, Sully can make the 3, we spread teams out and it really helps our team out a lot,’’ Bradley said. “And when [Rajon] Rondo comes back it’s almost like we’re going to be picking teams apart.
“This morning in shootaround coach told us we needed to get back to playing Celtic basketball — that’s moving the ball and playing hard on the defensive end, and that’s what we did tonight.”
Turner was not concerned about a hostile reception in his first game as a Celtic on the home court of his former team.
“I want to see how many people show up, first,” Turner said before the game. “To tell you the truth, who doesn’t want to join in on a good boo, if it’s happening? I would do a silent boo myself.”
A late-arriving crowd, announced at 8,201, generally ignored Turner in pre-game introductions.
Turner, who turns 26 on Oct. 27, was drafted by the Sixers second overall in the 2010 draft. In his second year, he helped the team to a seven-game, near-upset of the Celtics in the second round of the playoffs.
“That gets easily forgotten, those accomplishments as a unit,” he said. “But, once again, [the team] ended that too soon. I think we had a lot of potential out of that group — it went south quickly.
“Obviously, unfortunately, the things that occurred, you can’t really help. We traded a great player like Andre Iguodala, for a great big man, Andrew Bynum — that went south. Then, unfortunately, we traded a franchise guy, Jrue Holiday, on draft night, and we got rid of it from there.
“We could have been in a situation like Indiana, where they were able to build up in four years, stuff like that. But, unfortunately, it didn’t happen. You take advantage and you appreciate those times you did have. We were able to get to the second round of the playoffs against a great Celtics team, and there were some great memories from there. And I was able to build friendships and memories I won’t forget.”
Turner has possible disciplinary action awaiting him, having been ejected from the Celtics’ 92-89 loss to Toronto in Portland, Maine, Wednesday. Turner bounced the ball toward a referee, who was communicating with the scorer’s table, after a timeout. The ball took two bounces and hit the official.
“The ball bounced 10 times and hit the ref on the ankle, so hopefully I don’t get in trouble,” Turner said. “I take full responsibility for that situation, obviously it was just bad in general. I wasn’t bouncing it maliciously or anything but I take full accountability for my actions in that situation.
“But you read that I threw the ball at the ref, it sounds 10 times worse than the little thing that I did do, once you watch the video. I’m glad it’s only preseason and you learn from it and drop it right there.”
Injured Philadelphia center Joel Embiid wasn’t at the game because of the death of his younger brother, Arthur, in Africa. Coach Brett Brown, general manager Sam Hinkie, and forward Luc Mbah a Moute also missed the game to be with Embiid, 20. “We will provide additional details as we receive them,” Sixers director of public relations Michael Preston said. Chad Iske replaced Brown as head coach . . . Sixers rookie and former Everett High and Tilton School star center Nerlens Noel (flu) also missed the game . . . Rondo continues to participate in non-contact drills with the Celtics. “I’m just not able to get hit on it, yet,” Rondo said of his left hand. “I’m able to dribble the ball, a lot more confident.”