Bradley (shoulder) could be done for rest of postseason

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Bradley (shoulder) could be done for rest of postseason

PHILADELPHIA The Boston Celtics haven't totally ruled Avery Bradley out from returning at some point in the playoffs.

But as of now, the likelihood of him returning to the Celtics lineup is slim, at best.

A Boston Globe report indicated that Bradley runs the risk of doing further damage to the shoulder by playing, and that could potentially result in him needing surgery and up to a year to fully recover.

Bradley indicated Wednesday morning that the shoulder injuries that have sidelined him the past two games - that includes Wednesday's 82-75 Game Six loss to Philadelphia - are not showing significant improvement.

"It's definitely frustrating," Bradley said. "All I can do is keep trying to get stronger, keep improving for my team. That's all I'm gonna do."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said earlier that both Bradley and Ray Allen (ankle) have the kind of injuries that even with added rest, it won't be enough for them to make significant progress to get past their injuries.

"Ray and Avery, they're just not going to get better," Rivers said. "The rest makes no difference. It's going to come down to day-to-day, if they feel better or not."

Without Bradley, the Celtics take a major blow defensively.

There were countless plays in the Celtics' Game Six loss where the absence of Bradley on the floor, was obvious.

Knowing that there's a very good chance that he won't be back for the playoffs, puts the C's in a precarious position even if they were to win Game 7 on Saturday.

A victory would move the Celtics on to the Conference finals against either Indiana or Miami, two teams that have athletic, high-impact wing players that without Bradley, will make a tough matchup even more difficult.

Rivers maintains the team's "no excuses" mantra, even when he acknowledges how not having a player like Bradley available can impact the C's.

"It's what we have," Rivers said. "Clearly, Avery's a great defender. Their (Philadelphia) penetrations, their isolations without Avery on the floor, they clearly went to a lot of iso's, they were picking who they wanted. That's what I would do. You can't blame them for doing it."

Without Bradley, the Celtics have to revert back to some of the defensive approaches they had prior to inserting him in the starting lineup.

"We have to do a better job of covering for guys who may not be able to keep some of those in front of us," Rivers said. "I don't think we covered for each other very well. Having said that, they scored eighty-two points and that's not a lot."

True, but it's probably more than the Sixers would have scored had Bradley been healthy enough to play.

But there's no time for Boston to worry about that now, not with a decisive Game 7 on Saturday against a Philadelphia team that's coming into it with more confidence than they've had at any point in this series.

"Our mindset is 'let's see what we can do,'' Collins said. "Let's see if we can go get us a win."

Something that will be easier to come by for Philadelphia, knowing that this defenisve-minded Celtics squad, will be minus Bradley who has been one of their top defenders.

Celtics miss an opportunity in first half with LeBron in foul trouble

Celtics miss an opportunity in first half with LeBron in foul trouble

CLEVELAND – There are 240 minutes of play in an NBA game, but Boston’s 112-99 Game 4 loss to Cleveland came down to seven (six minutes and 46 seconds to be precise).

That would be the amount of time left in the second quarter that LeBron James spent on the bench with four personal fouls (a first for him in the first half of an NBA playoff game ever) and Boston ahead by 10 points.

Boston could not have asked for a better scenario than that, especially considering how well they had played up to that point in the game and again, knowing that James wasn’t about to set foot back on the court until the third quarter.

But here’s the problem.

Boston’s 10-point lead when James left with four fouls.

Halftime rolled around and Boston’s lead was still at just 10 points.

Celtics players agreed that not finding a way to increase their lead with James out was among the more pivotal stretches of play in Game 4.

“They did a really good job of not letting it (the 10-point lead) get out of control while he was on the bench,” Boston’s Marcus Smart told CSNNE.com. “Every time we scored, they came back and scored.  They answered back with everything we answered.”

While many will point to that stretch as a time when the Celtics failed to make the necessary adjustments to increase their chances of winning, it wasn’t as if the Cavs are a one-man team.

“They still have two All-Stars out on the court,” said Boston’s head coach Brad Stevens, referring to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. “With the best player in the world they go to unreal, but they’re still a pretty darned good team when those guys are out there.”

Irving had a playoff career-high 42 points which included him scoring 12 of Cleveland’s 14 points in the final 6:46 of the second with James on the bench.

“He’s one of the best point guards in the NBA, and you know, you can tell he puts in a lot of work in his game, a lot of respect from myself, my teammates,” said Avery Bradley. “We have to do a better job at defending him as a unit, trying to make everything hard on him. He definitely got a great rhythm going tonight, and I felt like we had a chance to make it harder on him.”

James still finished with a strong stat line for the night – 34 points, six assists, five rebounds and a blocked shot.

As good as he was on the court, the Celtics have to be kicking themselves for not doing more with the time James on the bench in the second quarter which in hindsight, was among the bigger factors in them now returning home facing elimination as opposed to being tied at two games apiece in this series.

“What are you going to do?” said Cleveland’s Kevin Love. “You have to continue to fight through it. At halftime, we were down 10. We made some adjustments on the defensive end and we just fought; we needed to. They got everything out of us tonight in that second half, but we played more inspired basketball as well.”

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics don't take advantage of LeBron's foul trouble

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics don't take advantage of LeBron's foul trouble

CLEVELAND – Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Tuesday night’s Game 4 matchup between Boston and Cleveland which ended with the Cavs rallying for a 112-99 win. Boston now trails Cleveland 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.

 

STARS

Kyrie Irving

He was simply the best player on the floor by a mile in Game 4 as he tallied a career playoff-high 42 points with 21 coming in the pivotal third quarter.

LeBron James

Despite picking up four personal fouls in the first half – a first for him in a playoff game ever – James bounced back with a dominant performance. He finished with 34 points, 15 of which came in the decisive fourth quarter. He also had six assists and five rebounds.

 

STUDS

Jae Crowder

He continues to be one of the more consistent Celtics in this series. In Game 4, he had 18 points on 6-for-12 shooting with eight rebounds and four assists.

Kevin Love

Most of Game 4, Kevin Love found ways to make life difficult for the Celtics. He ended up with a double-double of 17 points and 17 rebounds with five assists and two blocked shots.

Avery Bradley

Boston’s Game 3 hero couldn’t deliver like that in Game 4, but Bradley still managed to score a team-high 19 points to go with five rebounds, three assists and two steals.

 

DUDS

Boston’s sense of urgency

They had the Cavs in prime position to be beaten. But they didn’t play with the kind of effort and focus in the second half, that we saw through most of the first. And that 6:46 stretch in the second quarter when LeBron James was on the bench, and they didn’t increase their lead? That was a major, major factor in the game’s outcome.