Bradley returns to practice for Celtics

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Bradley returns to practice for Celtics

CHICAGO When the Boston Celtics arrived at the United Center for today's practice, Avery Bradley was one of the first to enter the court area.

That's not surprising when you consider he was just moments away from practicing -- something he has not done in nearly six months.

It's still too soon to say when he will play again, but Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told CSNNE.com recently that he anticipates Bradley's return to games being sometime in early January.

And Doc Rivers said on Monday that when Bradley does return, it will most likely be as a starter with Courtney Lee returning to the role of being a key perimeter reserve along with Jason Terry.

"That's what he was when he left," Rivers said. "But he'll have to earn that and get it. But I just think on paper, it looks better. But you have to wait and see once he gets back."

The last thing Bradley is thinking about right now is whether he will start or come off the bench. Knowing he's one step closer to actually playing in a game is all he's concerned about.

"I'm just excited," said Bradley who has been recovering this season from surgery to both of his shoulders. "Hopefully there are no setbacks and I have a good practice today."

Bradley has gradually been building up to this day.

First there was the time spent letting his body heal from the surgeries to both shoulders. After that came a slow but steady process of strengthening the muscles just so he could function normally.

From there, he went about trying to get the shoulders and the rest of his body back into basketball shape with the last few weeks spent prepping for today -- his first practice.

Bradley has been playing one-on-one with former Celtic Keyon Dooling who has since been hired by the C's as a player development coach. Bradley has also had coaches set screens on him which has forced him to fight through the screens.

"I've been working on game situation things," Bradley said.

His return to practice can only be a positive for a Celtics team that could use a bit of good news after what has been a rougher-than-expected start to the season.

Once considered on the short list of title contenders, the Celtics (12-11) have been wallowing in a cesspool of mediocrity all season.

While there's no argument among the C's and those throughout the NBA that Bradley's return will help, Rivers isn't about to put the team's fate moving forward solely on the surgically repaired shoulders of Bradley.

"We have to be a better defensive team. Avery is going to help us," Rivers said. "But he ain't the savior. But he absolutely is going to take a lot of pressure off of guys."

And he'll do that by doing what he does as good as any guard in the NBA -- putting pressure on opponents.

Bradley's impact will indeed have a domino effect on several players, and not all of them guards either.

Because he's such a strong on-the-ball defender, that will likely mean less double-teaming will be needed from the bigs which gives them a better chance of holding their own on the boards, and playing better interior defense.

"It's huge to have those type of guys on your team," Boston power forward Brandon Bass told CSNNE.com. "That's what Doc (Rivers) means when he says, 'give yourself up for the team.' There's going to be a lot of guys who are just numbers guys. And then there's guys who may not have great numbers but just as valuable as guys with numbers. It's going to be great having Avery back."

Indeed, Bradley provides the kind of intangibles that reminds Rivers of what former Celtic Kendrick Perkins meant to the C's when he was a member of the Green team.

"Completely different players," Rivers said. "But there are certain guys that transcend their numbers with their team. Avery does that; Kevin Garnett does that. He has numbers, but he really does. Garnett can have average numbers and his impact on the game is undeniable. Avery does that as well."

First-year Celtic Jason Terry has known Bradley for years with both hailing from the Seattle-Tacoma area in Washington. Bradley at one point played for the AAU team of Terry's father.

"I seen right away he had some talent, but he was a raw talent," Terry told CSNNE.com. "But immediately going into his senior year I could see the difference. He began to stand out."

Terry recalls Bradley playing full court defense at a basketball camp for high school All-Americans -- something that rarely happens.

"That spoke volumes to the kind of player he was developing into," Terry said.

C's Mickey sent to D-League

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C's Mickey sent to D-League

Jordan Mickey, inactive in five of the Boston Celtics’ last six games, has been assigned to the Maine Red Claws of the Development League.

“He’s been inactive in a few of these games here,” Stevens told reporters prior to tonight’s game at Philadelphia. “And rather than being inactive and being here in a suit and tie, we knew there was a hockey game this afternoon and it was going to be unlikely to get much action on the court at all today. So it made a lot more sense to play for a couple days and fly down to Houston and meet us.”

Mickey has appeared in just eight games this season, averaging 2.2 points and 1.8 rebounds while shooting 47.1 percent from the field.

Tonight will be the former second-round pick’s 10th missed game this season, five in which he did not play (coaches decision) and another five in which he will be inactive.

The lack of playing time for the second-year player has more to do with Boston’s depth in the frontcourt than anything specific to his game.

“He’s done a good job,” Stevens said of Mickey. “It’s the same old thing that last year although we’re not quite as deep at that spot. But it’s still, at the end of the day we have to make a decision of, are we going to play more traditional or are we going to slide like a Jonas (Jerebko) or Jae (Crowder) over to the four (power forward) and play more spaced which limits the amount of bigs you can have in a game.

Stevens added, “he’s done a good job.  He’s made progress. I don’t think there’s any question we think he’s a guy that can help us not only down the road but this year.”

Mickey is in the lineup for the Red Claws’ game tonight against Santa Cruz and he’s also scheduled to play in Sunday’s game against the Raptors 905 with both games being televised via Facebook Live.

Rask stops 35 shots in Bruins' 2-1 win over Sabres

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Rask stops 35 shots in Bruins' 2-1 win over Sabres

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Tuukka Rask made 35 saves to help the Bruins hold off the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Saturday

David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron scored to give Boston a 2-0 lead and the Bruins improved to 3-0-1 in their past four.

Evander Kane scored his first goal of the season for Buffalo. Robin Lehner returned after missing one game with a hip injury and made 32 saves.

The Sabres combined for nine goals in their previous two wins but the NHL's lowest-scoring team reverted to form from the first 21 games, when star center Jack Eichel was out of the lineup with a high-ankle sprain.

Krejci got the Bruins on the scoreboard with 5:50 left in the first when he deflected Brandon Carlo's slap shot from the point off the right post and into the net.

The Sabres appeared to tie the game late in the second period but replays determined Brian Gionta kicked the puck into the net.

Bergeron made it 2-0 at 7:10 of the second at 7:44 of the third when he knocked on the rebound of his own missed shot. Bergeron initially hit the puck with his forearm on the left edge of the crease and skated around the net to chase down the puck and slip a backhand past Lehner.

The Sabres answered two minutes later, scoring on Rask for the first time in 109:12 this season. Sam Reinhart's feed off the rear wall set up Kane for a wrist shot from the slot that bounced in off Krejci. Reinhart has five points in his last four games.

NOTES: Bruins F Matt Beleskey was escorted to the dressing room in the final minute of the first period with a lower-body injury and did not return. ... Sabres D Josh Gorges did not play after injuring his foot blocking a shot in Thursday's win over the New York Rangers. With Dmitry Kulikov (lower back) and Zach Bogosian (MCL sprain) also out, the Sabres were down three of their top four defenseman and recalled 19-year-old Brendan Guhle from the minors to make his NHL debut. Guhle hustled back to thwart a breakaway by Krejci late in the third period. ... F Anton Blidh became the seventh Bruin to make his NHL debut this season after being recalled from the minors on Friday. ... The Bruins scratched F Jimmy Hayes. D Zdeno Chara, the Bruins' captain, missed his sixth straight game with a lower-body injury. ... Rask got a shutout in Boston's 4-0 win over Buffalo on Nov. 7.

UP NEXT

Bruins: Host Florida on Monday.

Sabres: At Washington on Monday.

 

© 2016 by STATS and The Associated Press.