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After suffering innumerable shoulder separations all season, including three during the playoffs, Bradley underwent season-ending surgery on his left shoulder on Friday. According to this article by Greg Payne on ESPN Boston, sources say Bradley will have four months of rehab ahead of him.
Having missed the Celtics’ last two playoff games, Bradley was unlikely to return to play in Game 7 against the Philadelphia 76ers at the TD Banknorth Garden on Saturday night. But Bradley’s presence has been sorely missed, especially when the Celtics were in desperate need of a stop down the stretch in Game 6 but couldn’t keep the Sixers’ guards out of the lane. If (I repeat, if) the Celtics can manage to win Game 7 and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, his absence will be even more notable against Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat.
After a rookie season where Bradley barely saw the light of day between the lines, Bradley has emerged late this season as an integral part of the Celtics’ success. When Ray Allen went down with an ankle injury, Bradley stepped in as the starting shooting guard and didn’t miss a beat, playing so well that he held onto the starter’s job even when the future Hall of Famer returned. While his scoring has declined in the playoffs, he has still remained effective with the occasional corner three and timely backdoor cuts to keep defenses honest.
In fact, according to ESPN Stats & Info, the Celtics’ best lineup was with Bradley on the court. The starters with Bradley at the two-spot have outscored playoff opponents by 53 points; the next-best playoff lineup (Allen, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Mickael Pietrus) has outscored the opposition by all of 18 points. In case that doesn’t illustrate his importance clearly enough, Bradley also has the best plus/minus on the Celtics roster (+63) just behind Garnett, who is merely playing at an MVP-type level so far this postseason.
Get well soon, Avery.