Bradley limited as a suprise starter

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Bradley limited as a suprise starter

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. The Celtics were prepared to play without Avery Bradley.

The starting lineup sheet the C's submitted, had Leandro Barbosa in the backcourt, which is what the public address announcer read from in introducing Boston's first five on the floor.

Still, there was Bradley, who gave C's head coach Doc Rivers the word that he was playing moments before opening tip-off.

Bradley's presence didn't help much as the Celtics never led in their 103-88 loss to the Detroit Pistons.

The 6-foot-2 guard, who had missed the previous game due to a rib injury, had six points on 3-for-8 shooting.

More than the lack of scoring, Bradley never made the kind of impact one of the NBA's best on-the-ball defenders often does.

While the Celtics certainly appreciate the effort and his willingness to play through the pain, it was clear that he wasn't going to be the defensive difference-maker that the C's and foes have grown accustomed to seeing.

"Once I told him Rivers I was going, I just tried to go out there and compete," said Bradley who is questionable for the game at Cleveland on Tuesday.

Part of being cleared to compete involved him wearing a protective padding for those still-tender ribs.

"I had double pads on just in case I got hit while I was in the game," Bradley said.

Bradley admitted that playing with the added cushion did limit him somewhat in the game, but it was an even bigger issue mentally.

"Just knowing that it was there, the pain ... it was hard," Bradley said. "Stuff like that happens to you throughout the game. I just have to fight through it. No excuses."

Bradley's desire to play is certainly at a higher level than many primarily because he has already missed so much action this season.

He spent the first 30 games of the season recovering from surgery to both shoulders, so it only makes sense for him to be a bit anxious to get back on the court - and stay there.

But going forward, he has to balance that desire to show mental toughness and play through pain, with the prospect of not being able to help the Celtics if he's not close to full strength.

Bradley's decision to play meant Barbosa who was going to get the start, saw his playing time significantly limited. Barbosa played seven minutes on Sunday, and finished with four points and two rebounds.

Bradley returns to Celtics' lineup for Sunday's game vs. Heat

Bradley returns to Celtics' lineup for Sunday's game vs. Heat

BOSTON -- Avery Bradley, whose flu-like symptoms landed him in the hospital and forced him to miss Friday’s game against Phoenix, tells CSNNE.com that he will play tonight.
 
“I didn’t get [out of the hospital] until [Saturday] evening,” Bradley told CSNNE.com. “My stomach still hurts a little bit, but I’m all right. I’ll be good.”
 
The importance of Bradley to this team cannot be overstated.
 
His ability to make a major impact both as a scorer and an elite defender separates him from not only his teammates but from most guards in the NBA.
 
However, his health has been a season-long issue in some form or another, which can be seen in the fact that he has missed 24 games via injury or illness -- more than any other player on the Celtics roster.
 
When he has played, Bradley has delivered on several fronts.
 
He’s averaging 16.9 points per game while averaging 6.2 rebounds per game - both career highs -- which rank second and third, respectively, on the Celtics roster this season.

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

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