Bradley (shoulder) a game-time decision

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Bradley (shoulder) a game-time decision

WALTHAM Avery Bradley was among the 15 players at the Celtics' morning shoot-around on Monday.

But how much he participated, if at all, is very uncertain. So is his status for tonight's Game 5 matchup against Philadelphia.

C's coach Doc Rivers held Bradley (left shoulder) out of the team's practice on Sunday, and isn't expected to make a decision on whether the 6-foot-2 defensive specialist will play until shortly before tonight's tip-off.

Bradley's left shoulder came out of the socket in Boston's Game 4 loss, but almost immediately popped back into place, which is the third or fourth time that has happened in recent months.

Despite playing with the left shoulder injury most of this season, Bradley has only missed two games.

His presence goes far beyond statistical measurements.

In little-to-no time, Bradley has evolved into the team's top perimeter, on-the-ball defender. Despite being 6-2, he has shown the versatility to defend players presumably smaller and faster, as well as those with more size and length.

"Defensively, he's been very effective," Rivers said. "But offensively, he's been on and off. They (Philadelphia) are absolutely making him score; they're sagging the paint. They understand what's going on with his shoulder, too."

Even with the pain that to some degree has been a problem all season, Bradley has managed to deal with it well enough to where he can still be a key player in the Celtics defense.

"Listen, it's a tough thing he's going through," Rivers said on Sunday. "A lot of players would not be playing. It's his first playoff, and he's dealing with stuff . . . it's tough. I swear, a lot of people would not be playing. The only reason he is, is because he wants to."

However Rivers is concerned that Bradley's desire to compete, as strong as it might be, still might not be enough to keep him from having to miss a game at some point in the postseason -- possibly tonight.

"I am concerned at some point that he may not be able to (play) anymore," Rivers said. "We don't know what game that is. We don't know what day he can finish it, and we can keep going and play. Maybe (Game 5) may be his last game. You really don't know."

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Celtics-Heat preview: Do C's need to bounce back from a win?

Celtics-Heat preview: Do C's need to bounce back from a win?

BOSTON – The final score on the Jumbotron Friday night said the Celtics beat the Phoenix Suns 130-120.
 
But there was a clear and undeniable sense of loss on the part of the Celtics, even if Friday’s victory was their third in a row and sixth in the past seven games.
 
The Celtics (47-26) hope to continue on their winning ways tonight against a Miami Heat team currently among a handful fighting for one of the last playoff slots, but are doing so without Dion Waiters (ankle) who has been instrumental in their surge after an 11-30 start to the season.
 
Beating the Heat (35-37) will require Boston to play better than they did against the Suns, a game Boston won, but in many ways had the feeling of defeat.
 
Yes, Devin Booker’s career-high 70 points was very much a blow – a huge blow – to the pride of a team that takes tremendous pride in its defense.
 
But the sense of a loss came in the form of purpose while playing as close to their potential as possible.
 
The Celtics fell short on both fronts Friday night.
 
Being just one game behind Cleveland (47-24) for the best record in the East, the Celtics understand getting as many wins as possible is the mindset right now.
 
But coach Brad Stevens knows that while winning is important, how the team plays is even more valuable.
 
“Like I’ve said before, I’m surprised at where we are record-wise because we’ve got to play at a higher level for 48 minutes,” Stevens said. “We just don’t do it.”
 
Is this Stevens’ way of trying to motivate his players after a not-so-great performance?
 
Or is he seriously concerned that his team isn’t as good as their record?
 
The Celtics, by their own standards, and to those of us on the outside looking in, know they are a better team than the one we saw on Friday night.
 
Not having Avery Bradley (sick) certainly hurt Boston’s efforts defensively.
 
Still, a Friday night’s game wore on, Booker’s confidence only grew and the Celtics’ desire to shut him down or at least slow him down, began to dissipate like an ice cube in hell.
 
And that’s a problem - a big problem - for a team that has to be connected at both ends of the floor for an extended period of time in order to play at the level their capable of and, most important, give them the best shot at emerging victorious in the postseason.
 
That’s why Stevens isn’t too caught up in the team’s chances of catching Cleveland, or whether they go into the playoffs riding a fat winning streak.
 
“I’m not going to get caught up in winning a couple of games in a row and all that stuff,” Stevens said. “I want to get caught up in playing well. We’ve shown ourselves capable of playing well, we have not sustained it throughout a game. And it’s been pretty consistent.”