BOSTON — It's a move basketball fans have seen former NBA Finals MVP Dwyane Wade do a hundred times.
The powerful 6-4, 220-pound Miami Heat guard exploded toward the hoop, took the backdoor pass and soared for an easy lefthanded lay-up.
But this time budding defensive whiz Avery Bradley of the Celtics would have none of it. He skied above the rim for a big-time block that had the crowd roaring in approval.
The ball went to Shane Battier, who canned a corner 3-pointer with 3:28 left in the half, but the message had been sent.
Nothing is going to come easily.
Battier cut the Boston lead to 40-38 but the red-hot Celtics rolled to a 91-72 win over the Heat, the No. 2 team in the Eastern Conference.
Rajon Rondo showed when the lights are on, he's as good as there is, torching the visitors for another triple-double (16 points, 14 assists, 11 rebounds). Doc Rivers joked he's going to have to tell Rondo all of the games are on ABC.
Paul Pierce loves the challenge of facing LeBron James, D-Wade and Co. He matched James for game-high scoring honors with 23 points.
But the story behind the story was the second-year 6-2 guard Bradley, an improving offensive player (13 points yesterday) who always brings it on the other end.
Wade was held to 15 points on 6-of-17 shooting, a far cry from his season averages of 23.0 and .507. The last two springs they've met in the playoffs with Wade averaging 31.7 points on .546 shooting over the 10 games.
They could meet again this spring, and the Heat will be heavy favorites, but yesterday's win and Bradley's play are certainly reasons for concern on South Beach.
The 21-year-old Bradley, who entered the NBA after one year at Texas, is a man of few words.
He said of his play vs. Wade: "I just try to make everything hard. ... I just want to continue to play like I have been. ... Every game is like a boxing match."
Yesterday was a KO for Bradley, who also contributed two steals and a block.
After the block, Wade said something to Bradley. But it wasn't trash talk.
Wade said the play reminded him of ... well ... him.
Pierce said Bradley should make the All-Defensive Team.
Rondo said, "He's changing the game right now with his defensive energy."
Celtics reserve guard Keyon Dooling was effusive in his praise of Bradley.
"He's the best perimeter defender in the league," insisted Dooling, an 11-year veteran. "I really want to echo that message. I told him, like (great scorers) are special offensively, he's special defensively.
"He has no fear. He's a hard worker, tough, hardnosed, humble, everything you want in a young player."
Battier, a two-time, second-team All-Defensive Team player, obviously knows defense. He said of Bradley, "He's played well, no question. He has some serious jets. He's tough. Obviously he has the physical tools."
He's become a much more important part of the team as the injuries have mounted and he's proven to be a much better shooter than first advertised.
Doc Rivers said, "I heard questions from you — Avery can't make a shot. I kept saying Avery can shoot."
Rivers was even asked if Hall of Fame sharpshooter Ray Allen might come off the bench when he returns.
He didn't shoot down that notion.
"I don't know," he said. "The good thing is we have options."