BOSTON (CBS) — One of the only things to go right for the Celtics on Monday night was guard Avery Bradley made his long-awaited return from an Achilles strain.
After missing 22 of Boston’s last 23 games, Bradley got the start in the C’s 114-98 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. He was limited to just 15 minutes of play, finishing with six points and three steals. He drained his first shot of the night and finished 2-of-4 from the floor, with both of his baskets from downtown.
“I wish I could have played a little bit more, but it felt good to be out there,” Bradley said after the loss. “I was able to just get shots up [while out]. I was nervous to see how it would translate in the game, but I felt comfortable out there. I tried to just focus on defense. I told myself if I focused on defense then I’d make shots on the offensive end.”
Bradley was sidelined with the injury in early January and rushed back for one game, causing him to miss 18 straight until Monday night. All of his 15 minutes came in the first half, and despite a hard push to play in the second half, rookie Jaylen Brown started in his place to start the third quarter.
“I wish it was split up for the second half, but it is what it is. I just have to go out there, no matter how many minutes I get, and play as hard as I can,” he said. “I just have to be smart about it. It was disappointing not being able to be there for my teammates.”
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said before Monday night’s loss that Bradley will be limited to 15-25 minutes in his first four games back.
“I’m just going to play him the first couple of stints and then when his minutes run out he won’t play anymore,” Stevens explained before the game. “It’s hard if you’re trying to save minutes for the end. I’m not sure that makes a lot of sense with getting stiff and sitting for a long time coming off of a long layoff.”
In 37 games this season, Bradley is averaging career-highs with 17.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.