Bradley struggling, just like Celtics

Bradley struggling, just like Celtics
March 27, 2013, 1:00 am
Share This Post

BOSTON — There is no way to ignore the positive impact that Avery Bradley has had on the Celtics this season.

Before he returned in January, the Celtics were a sub-.500 team that looked like a bunch of strangers tossed together on defense.

His return brought about it a toughness, an aggressiveness that elevated a unit. The franchise reclaimed its lofty position as one of the NBA's better clubs defensively.

But Bradley is human.

And in the NBA, that means you're going to have a few stretches when you're play isn't going to be very good.

Bradley is going through that now.

His shooting touch has been off of late. In the past 10 games, he's averaging 8.2 points per game, but is shooting just 32.3 percent from the field.

Even more significant than that, has been his defense.

Boston's ball-hawking, in-your-face defender hasn't been able to impact the game of late the way he had earlier this season.

No play better exemplifies his struggles than an aging Jason Kidd just blowing past him for a layup on Tuesday.

"Yeah, he's struggling," coach Doc Rivers said of Bradley. "Listen, Avery's trying his best, his shot is struggling right now. He can shoot the ball, but when you're thinking about it, he's clearly going through something. So we're going to try and get him through that."

There's never a good time for any player to struggle, but Bradley's slump could not be timed at arriving at a worst time than now.

The Celtics are starting to show the kind of breakdowns you would expect a team to eventually succumb to after losing a player of Rajon Rondo's stature. The All-Star point guard is out for the rest of the season after sustaining a torn right ACL injury against Atlanta on Jan. 25.

Rondo's absence along with Courtney Lee (sprained left ankle) being out on Tuesday and most likely out Wednesday against Cleveland as well, puts added pressure on Bradley that as of late, he has not been able to rise above.

"I'm probably going to have to do something to try to get him going more, not less," Rivers said. "I feel for him because he wants to play hard, he wants to play right, but you can see it. So we'll get him going."