Bradley eyeing contact in 'week or two'
While the Celtics have shied away from establishing firm timelines during his recovery from surgery on each of shoulder, Bradley said he feels "a lot stronger" and is simply waiting for team trainers to confirm the necessary strength has returned to both arms.
"I feel a lot better," Bradley said. "I’m just so excited, I’m getting closer to practice. I see my teammates, they can’t wait to have me back. I just have to keep getting stronger, that’s my main thing. Every single day I come in, I see the trainers and have them test me out to see how strong I am. I’m just trying to get better ever single day."
Bradley said team trainer Ed Lacerte puts him through daily strength tests with the goal of gauging his progress. He's seen drastic improvements in how he's felt and tested over the past two weeks and thinks he's nearing the last hurdle in being cleared for contact.
"It’s going good right now, the progression is good, we’re getting there," Bradley said. "I feel like we are a lot closer right now."
Having shunned the increasing Bradley chatter in recent weeks as interest has grown in his potential return, Celtics coach Doc Rivers offered a little mock amusement when informed of Bradley's informal update before Wednesday's game against the Timberwolves.
"Is that right? Wow, that’s great to hear. I’m very happy to hear the news, I appreciate you telling me," Rivers said. "Honestly, I didn’t know that because I don’t check. Eddie will tell us when it’s time, I don’t focus on that stuff with guys being out. I have to focus on the guys wearing the uniform."
Bradley admits Rivers avoids all the conversations about his progress.
"Doc stays out of it, he leaves it up to the trainers and strength and conditioning coaches," Bradley said. "We just have to see how I feel every single day. It’s hard for him to determine because I'm such a tough guy and I want to get out there. But at the same time, they have to put me through a lot of these [strength] tests because I lie to them sometimes, because I want to be back. They are just protecting me, and I’m going to protect myself so that when I come back, I don’t have any setbacks."
Rivers has been noncommittal when asked if Bradley could spend some time with the Maine Red Claws of the D-League in order to get game reps to close out his rehab. Likewise, Bradley is taking his recovery step by step.
"We discussed it, but right now we’re just focusing on [getting back to] practice," Bradley said. "When that time comes, we’ll make a decision. But right now we’re just focused on me getting stronger every day, so I’m able to practice and not reinjure myself."
Bradley said he has not endured any contact since the bump that ultimately forced the final shoulder dislocation and ended his season against the 76ers in the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series in May. Bradley said that even when he plays a quick possession or two of 1-on-1 with a teammate in practice, he is careful to avoid any accidental contact.
His biggest scare?
"The medicine balls -- that’s the only thing," Bradley joked. "It might hit my arm during catching games or something."
Through it all, he's just trying to be patient, as hard as that can be, especially after a breakout season last year that saw him take Ray Allen's spot in the starting lineup by season's end.
"It’s been very hard," Bradley said. "Being young, just having three surgeries now and this is my third year of not being able to do training camp, practices. [There are] all the expectations, and me not being able to prove myself. People and all the stuff they say, you kind of get down on yourself, but one thing I know is if you work hard every single day, things will work out."
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