Pregame: Bradley (ribs) out vs. Bulls
BOSTON -- Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley will sit out Friday's visit from the Chicago Bulls due to a rib injury suffered in Wednesday's loss to the New Orleans Hornets. Leandro Barbosa will take Bradley's spot in the starting lineup.
An hour before tip-off, coach Doc Rivers played coy when asked about Bradley's availability, saying, "I don’t think [Bradley will play], but not sure yet." Rivers wouldn't even bite when asked who might start in his place. "A whole host of guys, so we’ll wait and see."
With Barbosa getting the start, the Celtics maintain their bench continuity, allowing Jason Terry and Courtney Lee to stay in their preferred second-unit roles.
The Celtics will get an offensive jolt with Barbosa, but take a step back defensively. Boston was 6-2 with a remarkably more consistent (and inspired) defense since Bradley's return at the start of the month.
Rivers said center Chris Wilcox (thumb) will dress again and is available. Wilcox hurt himself in Chicago in mid-December and has dressed the last two games, but the Celtics wanted to get him more practice time before putting him back on the floor.
"He could play. He could have played the last game," Rivers said.
One thing Rivers was certain about was the job former top assistant Tom Thibodeau has done with the Bulls, particularly in the absence of MVP Derrick Rose.
"I think he’s done an exceptional job," Rivers said. "We went to dinner last night and the first thing I told him was, 'By the way, your team is pretty good without Derrick, that’s No. 1.' But [Rose] is their best player and when you take the best player off a team, and they still do what they’re doing, that says a lot about Thibs in my opinion. Obviously, the players, too, they can’t do it without them, but [Thibodeau's] intensity and his belief that they are going to win, with a man down, I think has to spill over to them. And all he cares about is winning. And I think they feel that."
Who paid for dinner?
"I had to pay last night because it was his birthday," Rivers said of celebrating No. 55 for Thibodeau. "Our new deal is, if it’s in Boston, then I pay. If it’s in Chicago," a reporter interjected with, 'You pay?' Rivers chuckled and said, "No, that was the old rule, I paid both places. But now he picks up in Chicago. Now I have to get him to pick up the phone when he’s in Chicago."
Thibodeau inked a four-year, $17.5 million extension with the Bulls this offseason. Rivers is the highest paid coach in basketball after signing a five-year, $35 million contract extension two summers ago.
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