Bradley, Rondo lean on each other in tough times

Bradley, Rondo lean on each other in tough times
March 7, 2013, 3:45 pm
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BOSTON — The evolution of Avery Bradley into an all-around, high-impact talent is undeniable.

He plays with the kind of stealth-like confidence that the Boston Celtics desperately need as they continue to cope with a season's worth of injuries.

Part of Bradley's confidence stems from the many teammates that stood by him during his days of inactivity while he recovered from an assortment of injuries. One of the more steady voices in his ear during those times was Rajon Rondo, who is out for the rest of the season following a torn right ACL injury.

And so it is Bradley who finds himself being the voice of encouragement now to Rondo.

"We're like brothers at the end of the day," Bradley told CSNNE.com. "It was easy for me to hit him up, especially because he was there for me. That's what I try to do for him, because I know it's hard; not being able to play, be there for your teammates. All we can do is go out there and continue to play."

As the C's continue to rack up wins in Rondo's absence, speculation will only increase about whether Rondo can successfully integrate himself next season with this team if the C's elect to keep the bulk of this current team together.

While it's hard to buy the notion that the Celtics are a better team without Rajon Rondo, there's no mistaking that they have played some of their best basketball of the season in his absence.

"I'm happy," Rivers said with the team's play of late. "I don't know if I'm  surprised. I just believe in this team. It's just ... the guys are pulling together. We've changed a lot of what we've done. We've become a ball movement team."

And while there's no mistaking the changes were made as much out of necessity than anything else, players are quick to rush to Rondo's defense when asked about the team's improved play since his season-ending injury against Atlanta on Jan. 25.

"Before he got hurt, you saw it, we were already starting to play better, a lot better than we were at the start of the season," C's guard Courtney Lee told CSNNE.com. "He's an All-Star, a great player for us and a great player in this league. It's just that right now, we're just trying to hold this thing down until he gets back on the court next year; that's all."

No one has a true sense of what Rondo's dealing with now as he continues recovering from ACL surgery that was performed by Dr. James Andrews.

Shortly after his surgery, Bradley recalled a conversation he had with Rondo who expressed his frustration with the injury preventing him from doing some of the more basic things in life.

"I know he was saying, 'It sucks not being able to go up and down stairs' like he used to," Bradley recalled. "It's going to take him a while to get used to it; make him appreciate being healthy and being able to play every single day."

Season-ending injuries, for some players at least, do have a way of changing one's perspective on the game and life in general.

It did for Bradley.

"Even before the shoulder injuries and stuff, I was very thankful for having the opportunity to play this game, to be an NBA player," Bradley said. "But when something you love as much as I love basketball is taken away for such a long time, it humbles you even more. You really realize how much the game means to you. I think Rondo's probably going through some of that stuff right now."

And as far as how Rondo will re-integrate himself next season, Bradley and his teammates aren't giving that much thought now.

Instead, their focus is on continuing to rack up victories this season which will allow them to climb the Eastern Conference standings where they're now just 1 1/2 games out of the fourth seed and the home court advantage that comes with it in the first round.

For Bradley, his injury turned out to be a blessing in disguise. He was initially supposed to have just his left shoulder operated on but that all changed once he got on the operating table.

"My right shoulder popped out when I was in surgery," said Bradley who added that the plan initially was to have surgery on the left shoulder and just let the right one heal naturally. "They were able to see that I needed surgery on both shoulders. When they put me to sleep, my right one came out. That was great for me because it probably would have popped out at some point and I would have lost maybe another season with that. So it was good for me."

And while Rondo's injury isn't something Bradley would wish on his worst enemy, Bradley too remains convinced that the experience will in some way benefit Rondo down the road.

"I know Rondo is already humble, but it will definitely make him a better player and a better person," Bradley said. "I feel like every time someone goes through an injury, it does. Mentally it just helps you."