Avery Bradley has had to wear a number of different hats for the Boston Celtics since the postseason began.

He’s been tasked with guarding Jimmy Butler and stepped up to provide valuable emotional support to teammate, and good friend, Isaiah Thomas in the wake of his sister Chyna’s tragic death the day before Game 1. Defense and empathy are traits you might expect from Bradley, but in a must-win Game 5 on Wednesday night he also delivered offensively with a playoff career-high 24 points to lift the Celtics to a 108-97 win over the Chicago Bulls.

“I was just trying to be a little more aggressive on the offensive end,” Bradley said. “My team needed me to do that and I was trying to pick my spots on both ends of the floor. I tried to stay out of foul trouble and eliminate letting Jimmy Butler get to the free throw line, that was my goal this game. I felt like I did a good job at it.”

Bradley shot 11-for-19 from the field on a night when the Celtics shot 43.2% as a team and Thomas missed nine of his ten three-point attempts. Kelly Olynyk added 14 points off the bench and Al Horford was efficient with 21 points on 7-for-11 shooting.

“We’re not too worried about shooting percentages, especially myself,” Thomas said. “My teammates have been getting me open, we’ve just got to knock down shots. Coach has been saying we’re going to knock down all our open shots that we’re missing and it might be the next game. I’m happy about my teammates and how they played, they picked up my slack.”

As good as Bradley was offensively, he may have been better neutralizing Butler, who scored just two of his 14 points with Bradley as the primary defender. He finished the game 1-for-5 against Bradley and 5-for-10 against all other defenders. He attempted just two shots in the fourth quarter, routinely passing out of contested situations in favor of a more open teammate. In 39 minutes, he shot just one free throw.

“I’m trying to make it hard on him,” Bradley said. “Butler is a very good player and my job for our team is to go out there and defend, try not to foul and make the player work for every shot. Make him work on both ends of the floor and that’s what I tried to do tonight.”

Bradley, meanwhile, shot 5-for-10 with Butler on him.

“I didn’t win the matchup,” Butler admitted afterward. 

Brad Stevens wanted Bradley in the game whenever the Bulls had both Butler and Dwyane Wade on the floor to ensure he would be defending one of Chicago’s two best scoring options. No one was on the floor more than Bradley in the pivotal game.

“Avery’s really important to our team, I’ve said that all year,” Stevens said. “He’s played great the last couple of games and Jimmy Butler is a tough guy to guard; Dwyane Wade is a hard guy to guard. You’re not going to stop those guys, but you just try to make it as hard as possible for them to get going. I thought all of our guys did a pretty good job when they got switched on them tonight and certainly Avery is the guy that starts the game on [Butler] and has played a lot of minutes on him.”

After relying on Bradley to help support Thomas emotionally during an impossible time, the Celtics have placed a huge defensive weight on his shoulders while also asking him to be assertive with the ball in his hands. He’s not a superstar, but has handled the responsibilities without so much as a wink and emerged as a quiet leader for an inexperienced team facing mounds of adversity.

“It’s kind of been the story of our team, being able to fight through adversity. No matter what we go through, we’ve been able to overcome it and I think it’s the group of guys and our coaching staff,” Bradley said. 

“We believe. We believe in one another and I said it earlier, we went to Chicago knowing that we were going to win those games, not hoping. We knew that we were going to take two games and come here and take care of home and now it’s our job to continue that. Play the same way and finish the series in Chicago.”