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Thursday, January 3, 2013
Bradley: 'I felt great out there'

By Chris Forsberg



BOSTON -- For at least one night, he wasn't the savior, but even in defeat Avery Bradley gave the Boston Celtics some hope.

Bradley made his 2012-13 season debut on Wednesday night and finished with four points on 2-of-6 shooting over 19:31. His defense wasn't perfect, but watching Memphis point guard Mike Conley (game-high 23 points) attack the basket whenever the player in front of him wasn't wearing No. 0 spoke to Bradley's on-court impact. He finished minus-12 overall, but even Celtics coach Doc Rivers absolved him from much of Boston's first-unit struggles.

More than anything, the Celtics expressed a satisfaction in being as close to whole as they've been all season long with Bradley back on the floor. There's optimism he can help fix some of what's ailing the Boston defense, even if it didn't happen in one night.

“Avery was terrific on the ball," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "Avery’s going to help us; you could see that. And that’ll be immediate for us. When we were struggling for points and needed somebody offensively -- and Avery will get that too -- you could see him struggling with his shot a little bit. But he’s going to be a big help for us.”

Bradley underwent a pair of shoulder surgeries during his offseason and has been rehabbing the past seven months as Boston brought him back slowly with the goal of avoiding any setbacks.

"I felt great out there," he said. "I got a little winded. There was a little bit of adrenaline just running up and down the court, but it felt good to be out there. I just tried to play as hard as I can and I feel like everything's going to come together as a team. I feel like we played hard tonight. ...

"On the offensive end, I've still got to get a feel, pick my spots. All that will come, though. Like I said, my main focus is just to go out there and play hard. I feel like everything else will work itself out if I do that."

And how did his shoulders hold up?

"No pain at all," he said. "I'm fine."

Read on for reaction from his teammates after Bradley's first game back:

Paul Pierce: "He’s going to slowly work his way back, and get his legs in game shape and had a real impact out there for us on both ends of the court. It’s just good to really see him out there tonight. He’s been going through a lot, with the surgeries, [rehab] all summer, to finally get a chance in the new year to get back out there, I think he was really anxious and excited to be out there.”

Kevin Garnett: "I thought he brought some good energy. It's good to have him back. He's a big part of this team. We're going to be better. He's going to be a part of that process, so it was good to see him out there."

Rajon Rondo: "He's going to pick up the ball, definitely, he's going to turn the ball, [opponents will] start their offense a little bit later [in the shot clock]. We're not trying to put too much pressure on him, but he played great for us tonight."