BOSTON – Avery Bradley’s return will be right back, right after this quick break.
After Brad Stevens ruled Bradley out until after the All-Star break, his starting shooting guard came out to declare that he is hoping to return to the floor as soon as it’s over.
“I’m feeling really good. I wish I could be back now, but I just hgae v to do whatevers’ smartest at the moment,” Bradley said before the Celtics hosted the Sixers Wednesday. “The medical staff thinks it’s smartest for me to just wait until after the All-Star break.”
Bradley has missed 18 of the last 19 games for the Celtics after suffering an Achilles sprain against the Sixers of all teams on January 6, in which he scored 26 points in a four-point win.
His scoring will need some time to return, as he has barely had any basketball work in the past month.
“I really haven’t done much. I’ve been doing moreso conditioning and strengthening. Upper body and lower body. Just making sure I’m strong enough for when I do return.”
Now that Bradley is physically ready to go, he is working on breaking his game in again.
“Now we’re getting at basketball stuff. So I’m hoping over All-Star [break] I can play some basketball and be ready for the first game.”
The Celtics will need him ready. Rookie Jaylen Brown is also out until after the break with a sore right hip flexor, leaving the Celtics without a shooting guard for the time being. The Celtics have hardly struggled to survive without Avery, as they have now separated themselves in the second seed with the Cavs in sight at just two games back.
“I mean they’ve been playing well,” he said. “I don’t want to mess anything up. But selfishly, I do wish I was playing and being a part of it. Wish I could be around the guys.”
Bradley is intent on playing the first game back from the break in Toronto, but he won’t rush it back again.
“I have to listen to [the medical staff], but I feel good right now,” Bradley said. “But I have to obviously be smart and listen to the experts.”
He learned the hard way, as he returned to the floor against the Hornets after sitting out for 10 days. He played 33 rough minutes and has been out for almost a month to the day ever since.
“I was dealing with the pain,” he said of that game against the Hornets. “We just made a decision for me to play and I probably should have sat out. You know, you live and you learn and now I’m just being smart about it so I can be prepared to play at a high level for this team.”
Staying away from the floor is tough, especially when you feel like you could fight through the pain or discomfort.
“Yeah, it’s been frustrating. But I guess it’s just part of the game and part of being smart. I want to play and play through it, but the team’s advising me that it’s just not the time to take that risk right now, with something potentially happening with my Achilles or a different injury. It’s was just something we decided – a decision we decided to make together and we feel like it’s the best one.”
So there is no timetable, but the progress indicates a return is imminent. Bradley says the pain is completely gone and the workload is reaching the point that he should be cleared any day now.
“[There] hasn’t been a timetable,” Bradley said. “I’m just progressing every single day. Been doing two-a-days since the team’s been gone and everything’s been going well. No setbacks. “
He will get a few extra days to work his way back with his coaching staff and backcourt partner Isaiah Thomas in New Orleans for All-Star weekend. They will return from the break with the second easiest schedule in the league, while the Cavs have the second hardest. With the trade deadline a week away, the Celtics could be loading up next week for a furious run at the top seed in the East.