Rivers considered benching Bradley

Rivers considered benching Bradley
May 11, 2012, 12:13 am
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Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee have stepped up their games in the absence of Rajon Rondo.

(USA Today Sports)

BOSTON Atlanta's Joe Johnson has a four-inch height advantage over Boston's 6-2 guard Avery Bradley in a matchup that Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers acknowledges he's not crazy about.

In fact, the Cs gave some thought to making a lineup change to better match up with Johnson, who came into this series as the Hawks' leading scorer in the regular season.

But Rivers ultimately decided to stick with Bradley, who has started all five playoff games in addition to 28 regular season games.

Bradley has been a huge part of the Celtics' resurgence after the all-star break, displaying the kind of on-the-ball-pressure that established him as one of the league's up-and-coming defenders.

In addition, the C's have seen his offensive game evolve to the point where teams can no longer lay off him the way they at times treat his backcourt mate, Rajon Rondo.

But in the midst of his improved play, Bradley has been battling a left shoulder injury which has become more troublesome as the C's get deeper into the playoffs. Team officials described it as a sore rotator cuff injury that Bradley admits is still sore and at times uncomfortable.

But the prospect of replacing Bradley with someone like Sasha Pavlovic, Mickael Pietrus or one of the C's bigger perimeter defenders is tempting.

However, the Celtics don't want to do anything to potential stunt Bradley's impressive growth this season - like benching him in the playoffs.

"We thought about it," Rivers acknowledged. "Avery's a young kid and even if we have to make a move early, we'd rather do that then take him out of the lineup."