Going into tonight's pivotal Game 5 meeting with the Philadelphia 76ers, the Celtics were already concerned about the left shoulder of Avery Bradley, as the second-year guard had dislocated the shoulder three times already including once in Philly as the C's lost Game 4 on Friday night. Now it turns out Bradley's status is even worse than anticipated, and Boston's ball-hawking guard will not be available to play Game 5.
"It's not just the one, it's actually both shoulders," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said before tonight's game. "And that's probably one trying to protect the other one. So yeah, it's pretty bad. He'll still play games, I think, but this is probably how it's going to be from this point on -- I think he'll play a game, then miss a couple, then play a game. That's basically the way it'll be."
Ray Allen, who's been battling health issues of his own this spring with a bum ankle, will get the start. The C's have reunited the four-All-Star punch that won them a championship in 2008, in reinserting Allen to the starting five, but their lineup won't be the same without Bradley.
"We lose our defensive captain, really -- he and Kevin [Garnett] are both terrific," Rivers said. "With Avery at the guard, it takes away the ability to put [Rajon] Rondo on different guys and give him a rest at times. I think ball pressure against Philly is really important, and to ask Rondo to do both that and run the team is very difficult. It clearly takes something out of our lineup."
While Allen will see more minutes with Bradley out of the mix, the Celtics will also have to look to Mickael Pietrus and Keyon Dooling, two younger and healthier perimeter players, to step up and contribute off the bench in Bradley's stead. Rivers admits he's not exactly sure how the perimeter bench duties will be distributed in Game 5.
"One of the three, Keyon, Ray or M.P., will take on a bigger role without Avery," the coach said. "Obviously you hope it's Ray, but Ray's limited with his health. It may end up having to be one of the other two guys."
Rivers added that Bradley's status for Game 6 -- and beyond, if the Celtics are so fortunate as to play further -- is unknown.
"We're going to focus on tonight and take care of that," he said. "Then tomorrow and Thursday, we'll worry about [future games]. We just have to focus on tonight."