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

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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.

Report: Rajon Rondo preparing to attempt to play in Game 5

Report: Rajon Rondo preparing to attempt to play in Game 5

Chicago Bulls guard Rajon Rondo is putting in the work in an attempt to play in Game 5 Wednesday, according to The Vertical's Shams Charania.

Rondo, who fractured his right thumb and wore a forearm cast during Game 4, was spotted at practice Tuesday dribbling and shooting in a much smaller thumb splint. There's a chance he'll play against his former team in the Boston Celtics. Here's what The Vertical wrote on Rondo.

Around Rondo and the Bulls, there’s belief that the four-time All-Star has a chance to return but a final determination has not been made, league sources said.

The guard originally received a two-week timetable from doctors on April 21. However, he has a history of making improbable returns from injuries. In 2011, he played through a dislocated elbow. In 2013, he played a few minutes after tearing his ACL.

The 31-year-old point guard averaged 7.8 points, 6.7 assists and 5.1 rebounds in 69 games this season. In two games this postseason, he has averaged 11.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 10 assists and has shot 42.3 percent from the field.

And the Bulls, who are tied with the Celtics 2-2 in the series after jumping out to a 2-0 lead, are desperate for his return. They've cycled players like Michael Carter-William, Jerian Grant and Isaiah Canaan in and out of Rondo's role in the Bulls starting lineup.

Isaiah Thomas on Fred Hoiberg's complaints: 'I don’t carry the ball'

Isaiah Thomas on Fred Hoiberg's complaints: 'I don’t carry the ball'

WALTHAM, Mass. – Following Boston’s Game 4 win at Chicago on Sunday, Isaiah Thomas was asked about Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg’s comments that he carried the ball.

The question drew instant laughter from Thomas’ two sons who sat next to him on the podium. 

“It’s not that funny,” Thomas told them which drew a chuckle or two from the assembled media members on hand. 

Thomas is right, especially if Hoiberg’s complaints result in officials looking closer at Thomas’ ball-handling and do in fact take Hoiberg’s comments to heart as Boston and Chicago gear up for a pivotal Game 5 matchup. 

“I only know one way how to dribble,” Thomas said following Boston’s practice on Thursday. “I’ve been dribbling the same way my whole life. Maybe it was strategic or something. I don’t think they’ll call it on me.”

Thomas said he was watching NBA TV recently where he saw that he had been called for carrying two times this season. 

And just to get a sense of how often the ball is in Thomas’ hands, he made 4,234 passes while averaging 55.7 passes per game during the regular season which ranked 15th and 24th, respectively, in the NBA.  

When Thomas heard about Hoiberg’s complaint, he admits it was an unexpected rationale behind how Thomas torched his roster in Games 3 and 4. 

“I was very surprised,” Thomas said. “Out of everything else that I do on the court, you want to bring that up. It is what it is. I’m going to continue to dribble the ball the way I know how.”

Hoiberg may not realize it, but forcing the refs to pay more attention to Thomas’ ball-handling will also result in increased attention paid to Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo (right thumb) who is listed as out for Game 5 but may return to the lineup for Game 6. 

“Dwyane Wade, Rondo, LeBron (James) … I dribble just like everybody else,” Thomas said. 

Thomas added, “I don’t know what he (Hoiberg) was trying to get at. on. And if I do, every other point guard or every other guard that dribbles the ball, carries as well.” 

This time of year, with the way the series has played out of late, Thomas understands that Hoiberg’s comments may be nothing more than playoff politics with Hoiberg shifting the conversation away from what he has failed to do – limit Thomas – and put the focus on something else.

“It may be,” Thomas said. “I don’t know what he was getting at. There’s a lot of games, a lot of dribbles I made and didn’t carry. I’m gonna play the same way I know how. And that’s giving it my all and doing what I need to do for this team to win.”