West's injury plagued season continues


West's injury plagued season continues

By A. Sherrod Blakely

BOSTON Delonte West continues to catch breaks - the bad kind, of course.

The 6-foot-3 guard re-aggravated his sprained right ankle in Boston's 83-81 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats.

Although West says he will play against Minnesota on Sunday, his status will depend on how the ankle progresses between now and then.

"I've had a sprained ankle before; it normally takes two, three days and you're back in action," West said. "But they're saying I got a chipped bone in there and I think I kind of over-did it a little bit in practice (on Thursday)."

Several players commented on how hard players went at each other in Thursday's practice.

Another casualty from that practice was Troy Murphy, who also has a sprained ankle injury.

Murphy, who did not play in Friday's loss, is wearing a boot on the ankle and is also questionable for Sunday's game at Minnesota.

As for West, this is the latest in what has been a season filled with one setback after another.

He was suspended the first 10 games of the season for pleading guilty to a weapons possession charges last summer.

After that, he returned to action but suffered a broken right wrist after appearing in just five games.

West eventually returned to the lineup, but found himself back on the shelf after suffering a sprained right ankle during a walk-through practice prior to a Feb. 28 game at Utah.

Although he played more than 18 minutes on Friday, it was clear that the ankle was giving him problems.

West finished with two points while missing five of his six shot attempts.

"I said once I step on the court, there (are) no excuses," West said. "I'm still going to play defense, but with my shot I noticed that I was all in the take-off and landing. It was throwing my shot off."

Because he's a lefty, West is used to jumping off his right ankle - the injured one.

And while the possibility that this latest ailment might sideline him, West said "don't plan on it."

He added, "I think a day or two should be sufficient. I should be good to go next game. I said no more excuses; this is going to be the last time you hear about the ankle from me."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Bradley's emergence as vocal leader speaks volumes about growth

Bradley's emergence as vocal leader speaks volumes about growth

BOSTON –  Terry Rozier was having a rough stretch where his minutes were limited and when he did play, he didn’t play particularly well.
Among the voices in his ear offering words of encouragement was Avery Bradley who knows all too well what Rozier was going through.
For all his time as a Celtic, Bradley has let his work on the floor do the talking for him.
But as the most tenured Celtic on the roster, his leadership has to be about more than just getting the job done, but servicing as a vocal leader as well.
For a player whose growth from one year to the next has been a constant, being a more vocal leader has been the one dynamic of his game that has improved the most during this past season.
And it is that kind of leadership that will carry into the summer what is a pivotal offseason for both Bradley and this Celtics franchise which was eliminated by Cleveland in the Conference finals, the first time the Celtics got that deep in the playoffs since 2012.
He is entering the final year of the four-year, $32 million contract he signed in 2014. And it comes at a time when his fellow Tacoma, Wash. native and backcourt mate Isaiah Thomas will likely hit free agency where he’s expected to command a max or near-max contract that would pay him an annual salary in the neighborhood of $30 million.
At this point in time, Bradley isn’t giving too much thought to his impending contract status.
Instead, he’s more consumed by finding ways to improve his overall game and in doing so, help guide the Celtics to what has to be their focus for next season – a trip to the NBA Finals.
While Celtics players have said their focus has always been on advancing as far into the playoffs as possible, it wasn’t until this past season did they actually provide hope and promise that Banner 18 may be closer than you think.
It was an emotional time for the Celtics, dealing with the unexpected death of Chyna Thomas, the younger sister of Isaiah Thomas, just hours before Boston’s first playoff game this season.
And then there were injuries such as Thomas’ right hip strain that ended his postseason by halftime of Boston’s Eastern Conference finals matchup with Cleveland.
But through that pain, we saw the emergence of Bradley in a light we have seldom seen him in as a Celtic.
We have seen him play well in the past, but it wasn’t until Thomas’ injury did we see Bradley showcase even more elements of his game that had been overlooked.
One of the constant knocks on Bradley has been his ball-handling.
And yet there were a number of occasions following Thomas’ playoff-ending injury, where Bradley attacked defenders off the dribble and finished with lay-ups and an occasional dunk in transition.
Among players who appeared in at least 12 playoff games this year, only Washington’s John Wall (7.9), Cleveland’s LeBron James (6.8) and Golden State’s Stephen Curry (5.2) averaged more points in transition than Bradley (4.7).
Bradley recognized the team needed him to be more assertive, do things that forced him to be more front-and-center which is part of his evolution in Boston as a leader on this team.
“It’s weird but players like Al (Horford) definitely helped me get out of my shell and pushed me this year to be more of a vocal leader,” Bradley said.
And that talent combined with Bradley doing what he does every offseason – come back significantly better in some facet of his game – speaks to how he’s steadily growing into being a leader whose actions as well as his words are impactful.