For years, Kevin Garnett has been the undisputed leader of a Boston Celtics defense that has ranked among the NBA's best.

But like every great leader, the torch of power will be passed.

And that time appears to be sooner rather than later, with Avery Bradley slowly but surely establishing himself as the face of the Celtics defense.

There's plenty of data that suggests Bradley's defense has been the single most important change in the Celtics defense.

Prior to his first game of the season with the Celtics on Jan. 2, Boston was two games below .500 (14-16) and had a defense that ranked in 19th in field goal percentage defense and 15th in points allowed per game (96.1).

Since Bradley's return on Jan. 2, Boston is now four games over .500 (31-27) and has allowed opponents to shoot 42.2 percent from the field which is the second-lowest mark in the NBA in that span.

In addition, opponents have averaged 90.6 points against the C's which is the fourth-lowest average since Bradley's Jan. 2 return.

And while the C's have been able to collectively get it done defensively, there's no denying who has been at the heart of their improvement.

"Avery is everything to our defense," Garnett said. "He's the anchor, if you will. He's the true inspiration of what it is. He's up on the ball like 95-, 90-percent of the time. Any other guard in the league ... nobody's playing defense like he is. He's tenacious. He's the silent leader who leads by example."