Former Celtics guard Avery Bradley has carved out an important role as the Lakers’ starting shooting guard this season. He was traded to the Pistons in the summer of 2017 when the Celtics needed to clear the salary-cap space to sign Gordon Hayward.
In January 2018, Bradley was traded to the Clippers in the Blake Griffin deal. A year later, he was traded to the Grizzlies. Last summer, he signed a two-year deal with the Lakers.
“He’s had some bouts with bad health, unfortunately, but now he looks healthy,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “He looks really good, and I think he gives them a lot. He allows LeBron [James] to play the point on offense and Avery to guard the point, and so that’s a great mix for them.
“I think they’ve done a great job of playing to his strengths and he’s done a great job of accentuating others’ strengths. As we’ve seen here, he’s a good player for winning teams.”
Bradley, 29, had 8 points, 2 assists, an 1 rebound over 23 minutes Monday in the Lakers’ 139-107 loss.
The Celtics and Lakers have both dealt with significant absences recently, but both got major reinforcements.
Celtics point guard Kemba Walker, who missed Saturday’s loss to the Suns with a sore knee, and forward Jaylen Brown, who missed the last three games with a sprained thumb, returned. Also, Lakers star Anthony Davis played after missing five games because of a bruised tailbone.
Walker and Brown had 20 points apiece in the Celtics’ 139-107 victory. Walker went to the locker room at one point in the first half to get some heat treatment on his knee, but he said it was not an issue.
“Everything is fine,” he said. “I was a little bit sore. I’m OK. Just trying to do a good job of taking care of myself. I’m fine.”
Brown said his thumb felt better as the game progressed.
“It was bothering me early,” he said. “As the game started going, it started loosening up a little bit. I’m still trying to get in some treatment. Making sure everything is taken care of.”
The Celtics lost all three games that Brown missed. The Lakers didn’t have as much trouble without Davis, however, going 4-1, including an impressive road win against the Rockets on Saturday night.
But Davis was limited to 9 points and 4 rebounds in 23 minutes Monday night.
The friendship between Stevens and Lakers coach Frank Vogel goes back to when Stevens was at Butler and Vogel was guiding the Pacers. They used to go to the same park in Carmel, Ind., where their children played, and they formed a bond over the obvious thing they had in common.
Stevens often attended Pacers practices, and Vogel would stop by Bulldogs practices during the NBA lockout in 2011. Vogel was fired by the Magic in April 2018, and, while he was waiting for a new job, he was a guest at Celtics practices several times.
Stevens said he’s happy to see Vogel succeed in this new role.
“This is a great spot and he’s done a great job,” Stevens said. “I’m really happy for him. I told him he looks terrible in purple but other than that, he’s a good friend. I’ll like him tomorrow.”
Vogel began his NBA coaching career as a video coordinator under former Celtics coach Rick Pitino and went on to work as an assistant for three seasons in Boston.
“I’ve always felt warmth coming here because I got my start here,” he said. “I was here for seven years. I met my wife here. I had my first daughter here in Boston. This organization will always be special to me . . . there’s people who have been here for 20 years that are old friends, and now I have new friends from my time here last year.
“There’s a lot of people to see before tonight’s game. Brad and I have always been close but I got a chance to spend time with a lot of his staff members as well.”