Celtics Notebook: Avery Bradley might wait to return after All-Star break
PORTLAND, Ore. — The Celtics went up against Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum for the second time without Avery Bradley last night.
The first, on Jan.?21 at the Garden, resulted in an overtime loss, as McCollum in particular defied coverage. But matchups like this one are the risk the Celtics must take while ensuring that their all-NBA defender sufficiently recovers from a strained right Achilles tendon.
Coach Brad Stevens now admits he’ll be surprised if Bradley plays before the All-Star break, with the Celtics playing their last pre-break game in Chicago on Feb.?16. They return to action on Feb.?24 in Toronto, and perhaps by then Bradley will be ready.
He’s already rushed back from the injury once, with negative consequences, after initially missing four games. He has now missed 16 more games, and has played once since Jan.?6 — a distant moment when he scored 26 points against Philadelphia on the same night that he suffered the injury.
But considering the red flags that pop up whenever an Achilles injury is involved, the Celtics are not going to rush Bradley. If he is indeed still two weeks removed from action, then so be it.
“There was a point in time with that,” Stevens said of ensuring that Bradley has time to rest the injury and minimize stress and soreness.
“He’s working pretty hard right now. He’s had two steps forward, one step back, which has been pretty consistent with him because he’s dealing with soreness,” said Stevens. “And he’s going to have some soreness as he deals with the rehab. .?.?. Obviously we want to be very careful with this and make sure he’s perfect before he comes back.”
End of great run
The Celtics snapped an interesting streak Wednesday night by scoring only 92 points against a Kings team not exactly known for its defense. They had gone 25 straight games scoring 103 points or more this season.
“I don’t look at the totals. I look at the percentages and points per possession,” said Stevens. “But we’ve been pretty good at that all year. We’re playing very skilled and that’s gonna be what we are.
“I know I’ve been asked a lot of questions about the number of (3-pointers), but we’re not a high frequency team getting to the line and we’re not posting a ton of guys, though we will post our guards some and certainly Al (Horford),” he said. “So the way for us to create an advantage is to drive and kick. Sometimes you get layups and most of the time you don’t, so you’re going to have to make shots.”
Second night success
The Celtics were back on familiar ground, playing on the second night of a back-to-back swing. Remarkably, they had been 8-3 on second nights. Following Wednesday’s night’s loss in Sacramento, they are also 7-5 on the first night.
The record says the Celtics are better without rest. Another result of the Sacramento loss is that they’re now 3-7 in games preceded by two days of rest.
It didn’t help, however, that snow and de-icing delayed the Celtics’ flight to Sacramento Tuesday night, including an additional hour when the plane sat on the runway at Hanscom Field.
“We felt it (Tuesday) night, we felt it (Wednesday),” Isaiah Thomas said of the lack of energy that characterized the Celtics’ loss in Sacramento.
“I mean it looked like we felt it. I don’t know if guys were a step slow because of that. You can use that as an excuse but that was our worst game this season.”
Jae Crowder flew home to Dallas to tend to what the team termed a family medical issue, and missed last night’s game.
It’s unclear if he’ll re-join the team for tomorrow’s game in Salt Lake City.
“I talked to Jae this morning. I talked to him the last couple of days, and whatever he needs,” Stevens said.