April 21, 2015 - Cleveland, OH, USA - The Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving, left, has the ball tipped out of his hands by the Boston Celtics' Avery Bradley in the first quarter during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on Tuesday, April 21, 2015. The Cavs won, 99-91, for a 2-0 series lead. (Ed Suba Jr/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire)

At just 25-years-old, Celtics combo guard Avery Bradley has already earned the reputation of being a stellar, lockdown perimeter defender. He’s also already earned two All-Defensive team selections-second in 2013-14, first last season-and has his hands full on a nightly basis with all the sensational guards we have in the league.

Bradley stands right around 6’3 with a 6’7 wingspan and tips the scale at roughly 180 pounds, allowing him to matchup with either guard position. He’s quick on his feet and has enough athleticism to compete with the NBA’s premier offensive players, and he sat down with Tom Westerholm of MassLive.com to discuss what makes him such an elite defender.

“I love the challenge. I love going up against the best players. I don’t care who it is. I don’t care about getting embarrassed. I don’t care. Kyrie Irving, none of those guys scare me. I know some players in the NBA probably get butterflies before the game, but not me. I’m licking my lips. I come excited. They need to prepare for me at the end of the day. That’s how I think.”

Boston had a stifling defense last season for a team who loved to push the pace. The Brad Stevens coached squad has a defensive rating of 103.6-good for fourth in the league-while maintaining the NBA’s fourth-fastest pace at 98.5 possessions.

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On the perimeter and in the paint, the C’s made it tough for anyone to put up points. Along with Bradley, there’s Marcus Smart, who has been heralded as a stellar defensive player since his days at Oklahoma State. There’s also Jaylen Brown who, despite being a rookie, has all the tools to be an incredible wing defender-competitiveness, toughness, athleticism.

Then you have the backend, anchored by the likes of Al Horford, Amir Johnson, and Jae Crowder, all of whom have great mobility for big men and are both shot-blockers and shot-alterers.

With the roster that was constructed, Bradley believes the Celtics can “have a top one, two or three defensive unit” next year, and with retaining their core of young, energetic players, they don’t seem too far off.

Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference

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