Avery Bradley is set to make his long awaited return to the Celtics starting line up tomorrow against the Memphis Grizzlies. Bradley’s return could not come at a better time for the struggling Celtics who have slumped to 14-16 on the season and are on a 3 game losing skid.
Bradley has yet to play this season after undergoing surgery on both shoulders in the off-season, however coach Doc Rivers said that after successfully completing a training session today that Bradley would be inserted straight back into the starting line-up. The move will bring some much needed stability and familiarity to a starting line-up that has already changed numerous times this season as Rivers struggles to get the most out of his new additions. Courtney Lee and Jason Terry have shared the starting shooting guard spot while Bradley has been sidelined, neither has managed to cement the role and will now form the backcourt of the second unit.
Bradley had a huge impact in Boston after taking the starting job from Ray Allen last season, the team got on a roll heading into the playoffs and Bradleys play was instrumental averaging double digits in scoring as well as playing what could be the best on ball defence in the league. His ability to defend the perimeter has been sorely missed by the Celtics thus far this season with opposing guards seemingly getting into the paint at will and without a renowned shot blocker or any real paint protection other than Kevin Garnett, the Celtics defence has been uncharacteristically poor.
The timing of Bradleys come back will also help Danny Ainge who has some very important dates marked on his calendar. As of January 15thJeff Green and Brandon Bass can both be traded after signing extensions this off-season, whilst the NBA trade deadline is February 21st. This gives Ainge, Rivers and the team some time to right the ship of this season and assess the team while fully healthy, recognizing the most pressing needs coming up to the trade deadline.
While Avery Bradley is no saviour it should come as no surprise if his return has a big impact on the play of the Celtics as a whole. He has great chemistry with all-star point guard Rajon Rondo, can finish on the break and forms one of the best defensive back courts in the league. It allows both Lee and Terry to slot into their regular roles and lead the second unit, on paper those 2 should form an experienced and potent weapon off the bench. His perimeter defence will the assist the Celtics bigs, who have struggled to cover for the weak defence on the wings thus far this season, Kevin Garnett will be especially pleased to see Bradley back. Most of all it will give the fans a boost in what has so far been a lacklustre season after it began with such promise, expect a rock star reception when Avery is introduced. Bradley will instantly improve the team and even if that is not enough, Ainge will have his full hand in play when it comes time to wheel and deal in February.
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