BOSTON — Avery Bradley jammed his thumb against the Cleveland Cavaliers Thursday, but it is an illness that kept him out of Friday’s game back home against the Miami Heat.
Bradley, who was the only Celtic to start every game this season before Friday, is replaced by Marcus Smart — often referred to as the sixth starter by his coach — in the starting lineup.
Bradley came in to work Friday, saw the team doctor and was told to go home and rest. He isn’t the first Celtic to catch the holiday bug, as Jae Crowder said he was feeling it before the Christmas Day matinee in New York less than a week ago.
"He was obviously really under the weather," Stevens said of Bradley before the game. "His hand (which he hurt against the Cleveland Cavaliers) felt a little bit better but he came down with the latest sickness. He came in, got checked out and we sent him home."
Smart will start, but it’s unclear if Terry Rozier will get back into the rotation. Stevens would only say, “We’ll see,” so projections for him to break his three-game DNP-CD streak is murky at best. Rozier saw his minutes cut to just seven a game after the Celtics’ win in Miami, but he has not seen the floor since the Celtics loss to Oklahoma City.
Gerald Green’s hot streak and Stevens’ continued faith — if not limited — in Jaylen Brown will make minutes hard to come by for Rozier. Regardless, Smart’s dramatic improvement as of late running point will make Rozier more of a luxury than a necessity.
"He's still continuing to improve as a player and be the best version of himself, but he's doing a good job. He’s doing a really good job." Stevens said of Smart. "I thought he was really good (during Thursday night's loss to the Cavaliers), especially in that fourth quarter with that bigger lineup in there at the start of the fourth."
To make things a bit easier for Stevens, Goran Dragic will also miss Friday’s game according to coach Spoelstra. Josh Richardson will start in his place, who will be a nightmarish ball of energy and athleticism for Marcus Smart to chase around all night.