Bradley Could Return as Early as Friday
WALTHAM, Mass. – Avery Bradley could return from a sprained right ankle as early as Friday, according to Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Stevens, who spoke to the media prior to Saturday’s practice, confirmed that the team is hoping to have Bradley back when it hosts the Suns Friday night at TD Garden.
“(Athletic trainer) Ed (Lacerte) just told me Friday is a possibility, but we’ll see,” Stevens said. “I don’t want to say with any certainty on Friday or not. It doesn’t look like Tuesday or Wednesday he’ll play, but hopefully we get him back sooner rather than later.”
Bradley, who has missed 16 of Boston’s last 19 games due to right ankle issues, seems to agree with Stevens’ soft timeline for a return to the lineup.
“(I’m) close,” said Bradley. “I would say maybe like a week out.”
Another week of rest and recovery would be more than double the amount of time Bradley took before returning from his last ankle sprain. He originally injured the ankle on Jan. 21 in Miami and sat out the next five games. He then returned to the lineup for two contests before tweaking the ankle again on Feb. 5.
In hindsight, Bradley believes that he returned to the lineup too quickly after that tweak. He played against Dallas on Feb. 9, and he admits that he was still experiencing pain in the ankle at that time.
“Yeah, I was,” he said of playing through pain, “but that comes with just wanting to be out there for my team. I was fine the first quarter and then after that it just locked up on me.”
That premature return to the lineup seems to have taught the 23-year-old a lesson.
“You have to learn from your mistakes and that’s what I did,” he said. “Now I’m paying for it by sitting out and not being able to be out there for my team.
“We’re just nursing it and taking our time so it doesn’t happen again, because you know, when you have one ankle sprain you’re more likely to have another one right after.”
Bradley is currently going through shooting drills with coaches outside of practice and watching the team’s sessions from the sideline. Stevens says that Bradley could theoretically join the team for walk-throughs and light practices, but that he will not do so until he is on the verge of returning.
Once that happens, Boston will become a different team. Bradley is Boston’s top defender and the team’s second-leading scorer with an average of 14.3 points per game. Those abilities, and others that don’t show up in box scores, will be a welcomed addition to the C’s.
“I think we miss him from a scoring standpoint. I think we miss him from an ability to turn it up defensively standpoint,” Stevens said. “It’s hard to quantify that. One of the things is that when he gets into the game and he gets the crowd behind you because of his energy and effort, does that actually count for more points than it may look like? That’s one of those immeasurables.”
Fortunately for Boston, that immeasurable, to go along with his scoring and, may be back in full swing come Friday night.