WALTHAM, Mass. — Avery Bradley was a welcome sight for the
Celtics to be back on the court on Thursday, as the third-year guard continued
his recovery from surgeries on both shoulders last spring. Bradley's
performance, however, was not much to look at.
Bradley began a conditioning regimen and started lifting
with the team's strength coach for the first time, then took the court after his
teammates concluded practice to get up a few shots. He has been shooting after
practice since the Celtics were in Turkey, but so far his stroke has not come
"It felt good to be back out there, even though I
wasn't making the shots like I usually do," Bradley said. "I'm happy
that I'm progressing and I'm going to continue to just take it day by day and
get my shoulders stronger."
Bradley has been sidelined since Game 4 of the Celtics'
Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the Sixers, when his chronically
dislocated left shoulder finally became too much to bear in the Celtics' 92-83
loss. He had surgery on his left shoulder almost immediately, followed by
surgery on his right shoulder six weeks later.
On Thursday, Celtics coach Doc Rivers reiterated the
mid-December timetable for Bradley's return, and Bradley agreed with that
assessment. The 21-year-old has not been cleared for contact, since it would
not take much to jar his shoulders loose again at this time. But he said he
feels well enough to dunk — although he has not, per doctor's orders — and
has been close to subbing in during practice several times before his coaches
realized he still is unable to play.
Bradley revealed that he was not aware of the extent of the
damage to his shoulders before the procedures. His left shoulder was an ongoing
problem, popping out with greater frequency as the season progressed, and
playing through the pain eventually caused him to injure his right shoulder as
well. He had surgery on his left shoulder in May, then had surgery on his right
shoulder in July, so that the two could be on the same healing schedule. Having
both shoulders fixed simultaneously was never an option because it would have
rendered both of his arms immobilized at the same time, he said.
"I had no clue" about the damage, Bradley said.
"I knew it was coming out, but I didn't think [the right] one was almost
just as bad. I was kind of down, but at the same time my teammates were telling
me, 'We need you next year, so you need to get the surgery now.' It was tough
not being able to play in the playoffs, but I'm excited about this year. I
When Bradley returns, he will be counted on to provide more
than just suffocating defense. He showed glimpses of being a reliable corner
3-point shooter last season, when he shot 20-for-36 (55 percent) from those spots. Getting his shooting touch back therefore is almost as important as
building up his strength and conditioning.
Bradley insisted his shooting woes after practice are not a
result of pain or rust, but because he has not yet shaken the fear of
reinjuring either shoulder.
"I've just got to get reps back, get my shot back, feel
more comfortable out there," he said. "I'm not getting my shot up
because I'm scared I'm going to hurt myself. That's all that is. When you have
an injury, you're scared you can't do certain things and that's what I'm going
through right now."
The physical aspect of Bradley's recovery is on track, but
the mental aspect might take some time.