BOSTON (CBS) – It’s been a long road back for Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley, but the comeback trail ends on Wednesday night.
Bradley, who underwent a pair of off-season shoulder surgeries after suffering multiple dislocated shoulders last season, will make his long-awaited return Wednesday night when the Celtics host the Memphis Grizzlies at the TD Garden.
“My teammates are excited. I’m excited. I’m pretty sure the fans are excited,” Bradley said Tuesday at the Celtics practice facilities in Waltham. “We’re just going to go out there and play Celtic basketball tomorrow.”
Bradley isn’t worried about feeling any jitters or over-doing it in his first game back, and said his teammates have been preparing him for game-action in practice.
“A lot of my teammates have been trying to get me game-ready; setting hard screens, trying to get me ready. I definitely do feel like I’m a lot stronger now,” he said. “I feel great. I can’t wait for tomorrow.”
With the Celtics struggling to a 14-16 record so far this season, the return of Bradley has been viewed as cure for most of the team’s issues. The defensive-minded guard will absolutely help the struggling C’s defense — which currently ranks in the bottom half of the NBA — but fixing all their issues is a hefty expectation.
But Bradley isn’t letting those lofty expectations get to him.
“I try not to worry about them,” he said. “All you can do is go out there and play hard, and that’s what I’m going to do. That’s all I know, that’s how I play. So just go out there and leave everything out on the floor and tomorrow; that’s what you guys will see.”
Head coach Doc Rivers was also quick to temper those expectations, saying they are a creation of the media and not something that is coming from the Celtics locker room.
“We’re not doing that; that’s you guys,” Rivers said on Tuesday.
Doc said how Bradley looks in Tuesday’s practice will dictate if he returns to the starting rotation, or is eased back off the bench.
“If he looks ready to start, he’ll start, he’s a starter,” said Rivers. “But if he doesn’t, we’ll wait.”
There could be some even more pressure on Bradley with Rajon Rondo questionable for Wednesday night, but fans need to be patient with Bradley and the team. While he will no doubt help, the team has a long ways to go to be considered a contender.
But Bradley’s return will be a nice breathe of fresh air, and offers a glimmer of hope in a season that has had more downs than ups.