BOSTON -- A football flew across the parquet into the outstretched arms of Avery Bradley. It was an unusual sight during pregame warmups on Saturday as Bradley's teammates took jumpshots and free throws a few feet away before the Boston Celtics took on the Philadelphia 76ers.
Playing catch with a football is one of the ways the Celtics staff is breaking up the monotony of Bradley's lengthy rehabilitation from double shoulder surgery. Bradley has been sidelined since last May and will be re-evaluated in two weeks to determine if he can return to practice this month.
"It was something we do to help my arm strength," Bradley explained to CSNNE.com. "We try to make it fun at the same time. At first I wasn't sure about it. I was like, 'B.Doo (Celtics strength and conditioning coach Bryan Doo), this doesn't make sense.' Once I started doing it, him throwing the ball hard and me extending, I have to do the same thing with a basketball and I have to see if I'm able to do it or not. It definitely helps. This is our second time doing it. Since it helps me out, we will probably continue doing it."
The Celtics have been creative with Bradley's routines, mixing in unconventional workouts and drills to keep him engaged. The 22-year-old guard has taken to the new methods during his recovery.
"We even do boxing," Bradley said. "They put on the gloves and I wear the pads and they punch them so I can receive them like someone's pushing my arm. At first I was boxing and then I stopped and just did the receiving because it was more important. We've been doing that for two weeks. It makes me stronger and it helps me see where I'm at at the same time. Let's say if somebodys pushing my arm, I try to get myself back to being used to those forces and resistance."
The workouts are paying off. After throwing around the football, Bradley got up for a dunk under the watchful eye of his coaches.
"I've been dunking for a while, just trying not to hang on the rim. Now I'm trying to see if I can," he said. "[Saturday] I told B. Doo, 'Watch me dunk so I can see if I can take all my weight hanging down on the rim.' I was able to hang on the rim. I kind of felt like I was at that point but I haven't been doing it because I didn't want to hurt myself. Now I know I am, so I definitely feel the progression every single day working with B. Doo and [Celtics athletic trainer] Ed [Lacerte]."
Bradley isn't making any predictions for his upcoming re-evaluation. He knows the final decision is out of his hands. In the meantime, he is doing everything he can to stay in game shape for when he is given the green light, no matter how tedious the process can be at times.
"I can't really say [what I expect to be told] because it's not up to me," he said. "I'm just going to continue working hard every day like I've been doing. It's hard for me because some of the stuff I don't want to do. I hate doing all the conditioning drills because you feel like you're in shape and it's like, 'Man, I do not feel like doing this every single day.' That's how you feel, I rather be playing than running for no reason. That's probably the hardest part for me. It's boring to me and I do it every day. I'm in good shape. Obviously when I come back, the adrenaline, I'm going to be tired, I'm going to get so excited. I know I'm going to be going so hard, but I'm going to be fine."