Celtics Quesiton of the Day: Will Bradley get his job back when healthy?


Celtics Quesiton of the Day: Will Bradley get his job back when healthy?

When the Boston Celtics made the decision last season to have Avery Bradley in the starting lineup ahead of Ray Allen, the logic behind the move was clear.

Bradley brought a defensive presence that Allen and all his Hall of Fame-worthy credentials simply could not deliver.

You throw in Bradley's ever-improving jumper, which included a 3-point shot from the corner, pair him up with All-Star guard Rajon Rondo, and the Celtics had their backcourt of the future.

But two developments have put that plan on hold for a bit.

There's the shoulder surgeries Bradley underwent that are expected to keep him out of action most of training camp and potentially into the early portion of the C's schedule. And even more important, Boston's ability to add Courtney Lee via sign-and-trade with Houston this summer.

Without Bradley early on in the season, Lee is expected to get the starting job at shooting guard.

But will he keep it when Bradley returns?

Not likely.

While Lee is a solid defender, he doesn't have the defensive game-changing ability that Bradley showcased when healthy last season.

Who can forget the defensive job he did on Orlando's Jameer Nelson last season, or that ridiculous block he had of an attempted floater by Miami's Dwyane Wade?

Lee is no slouch defensively, but he has yet to prove he can turn the tide of his game primarily with his defense.

And then there's the fact that Bradley has earned the right to, at the very least, pick up where he left off prior to the shoulder injuries.

During Rondo's strong play in the regular season, the C's would often have Bradley defend the opposing team's top guard. That took some of the defensive workload off Rondo's shoulders, which in turn helped him and the C's offensively.

Of course any decision to take Lee out of the starting lineup and put Bradley back in will be impacted by the team's success -- or lack of success -- before Bradley's return.

Regardless, it's hard to imagine that he won't get every opportunity to resume his role as a starter when you consider how well he fit in with that first unit and how, on many nights, the C's defense fed off of his energy to start games.

Arguably the biggest downside to Bradley being hurt to start the season is that it robs him from getting on the floor and getting to play with his new teammates. If he's on with the second unit, Chris Wilcox would be the only player with whom he is familiar who is expected to be in the regular playing rotation off the bench.

With Lee spending the preseason and early part of the regular playing with all those guys while Bradley recovers, Lee might be better suited than Bradley to make the transition from the first group to the second.

You can't totally rule out Jason Terry being in the mix, although he has proven himself to be very comfortable off the bench and the C's aren't likely to tinker with his role too much.

That leaves Bradley and Lee, two players with two different kinds of games who will each be counted on to contribute this season.

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics will be a bit shorthanded for the first few games of the season with Marcus Smart being out with a left ankle sprain injury.
The Celtics were holding out slim hope that it would heal in time for tomorrow’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Smart confirmed a CSNNE.com report shortly after the injury on October 19 that it would likely be at least a couple weeks before he returned to action.
Following Tuesday’s practice, one in which Smart watched from the sidelines, he gave an update on his ankle injury which occurred in the Celtics’ last preseason game, a 121-96 loss to the New York Knicks.
“A couple weeks, that’s the projection (of a return) they gave me,” Smart said. “They want to make sure we can limit this from happening again.”
Smart said the two-week timetable began from the time of his injury, which means it’s likely that he will miss the Celtics’ first four games of the season.
That’s a much rosier timetable than the left ankle sprain injury Smart suffered as a rookie which kept him sidelined for several weeks afterwards.
“It shouldn’t be too long,” Smart said. “Better safe than sorry.”
His absence will certainly have an impact on a Celtics defense that ranked among the NBA’s best a year ago, and has only gotten stronger with the addition of Al Horford.
But the Celtics have been a "next man up" team for since Stevens has been the head coach. With Smart out, that’s not going to change.
“That’ll be a great opportunity for someone else to step up in his place,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas echoed similar thoughts.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next man has to step up,” Thomas said. “Guys have to take advantage of these opportunities.”
And for Smart, it’ll mean displaying his leadership skills from the sideline.
He’s totally comfortable taking on that role right now.
For his teammates, it might take a little bit of getting used to. Smart has been very loquacious on the Celtics sideline since suffering the injury.
“These last four days, he has been yelling … I told him to shut up a few times,” quipped Isaiah Thomas. “That’s just him, especially when he’s not playing. He’s very vocal.”
Terry Rozier, the likely benefactor in terms of minutes played due to Smart’s injury, agreed.
“He’s been sitting right there in that seat,” said Rozier, adding, “and he hasn’t shut up yet. It’s good; you’re going to need a guy like that who is going to talk to you. It’s like a guy, he says things … it’s like he’s been in the league 10 years. He knows his stuff.”
Smart’s knowledge bank includes understanding that his current injury will probably happen again at some point. The key isn’t dealing with the injury, but how you move forward from it.
“This isn’t my first ankle sprain and I know it won’t be my last,” Smart said. “I just have to let it heal on its own and let your body do what it does.”