BOSTON — Avery Bradley's status as a one-and-done college player two years ago would imply that he was ticketed for stardom like draft classmates John Wall, Derrick Favors or DeMarcus Cousins. He spent his rookie year watching from the bench, though, and a few weeks into his second season there was considerable doubt whether he possessed the offensive skills to be an NBA player.
When — or if — Ray Allen and Mickael Pietrus return from injuries, Bradley could find himself staying somewhere that was unthinkable even a couple of months ago: in the Celtics' starting lineup.
"I don't know yet, honestly," Celtics coach Doc Rivers admitted after Boston's 91-72 victory over the Miami Heat on Sunday. "We've played well, but we've also played well with Ray [starting], by the way. I think people forget that part. The good thing is we have options. We have players with confidence and we have a lot of them."
Allen took part in the team's walkthrough Sunday morning but missed his sixth straight game with a sore right ankle. He is listed as day-to-day and will test his ankle at practice Tuesday before the Celtics decide whether he can play Wednesday against the Spurs.
Pietrus visited the Celtics at the TD Garden before the game against the Heat, but he donned dark sunglasses to protect his eyes from the light as he makes his slow return from a concussion. He has yet to begin post-concussions tests to determine when he can return to the court.
Bradley, who scored 13 points and played solid defense on Heat guard Dwyane Wade in his fifth start since Allen and Pietrus went down, admitted that starting does give him a mental boost.
"I think it helps being a starter," Bradley said. "When I got the starting minutes, it made me feel a lot more comfortable because of who I'm playing with. I'm gaining their trust, and not only their trust but Doc's trust knowing that they're more comfortable with me being out there."
Displacing Allen would be no small accomplishment for Bradley. Allen has started all but three of his 1,143 games in his 16 seasons in the NBA.