WALTHAM — The Celtics are not expecting Avery Bradley to return to the lineup before mid-December. But Bradley is hoping to accelerate the timetable and believes he is “ahead of schedule” in his recovery from surgery on both shoulders.
Bradley resumed working out Thursday, concluding the session with an extended shooting drill.
“I didn’t think I would be feeling this good right now, especially because I had this [right] shoulder done later,” Bradley said. “Right now, I feel good. I started conditioning today, lifting with the strength coach. I’m definitely ready but I’ve got to take my time right now.”
Asked about a mid-December return, Bradley replied, “That’s what they have right now. Take it day by day and see how I feel. But I’m ahead of schedule now, so you never know.”
Bradley sustained several shoulder separations last season, and after 10 playoff games it was determined surgery was necessary. He underwent a procedure on his left shoulder May 25 and another on his right a month later. The operations were timed to allow the more severe injury to the left shoulder more time to heal.
Though Bradley can push himself in individual workouts, he is being cautious about to returning to live drills.
“We don’t want any setbacks, so try to stay away from contact,” Bradley said. “So far, I don’t have any [setbacks], so I’m on the right page. This is the first day, so I’m just trying to get in shape, get my legs strong, as well as my arms, so when come back I have no injuries, no setbacks.”
Bradley emerged as a defensive stopper last season, working his way into the starting lineup and establishing himself as a consistent scorer. But after going down in Game 4 of the second round of the playoffs against Philadelphia, Bradley’s season was finished.
“I was kind of down but my teammates were saying we need you next year,” Bradley said. “It was tough not being able to play in the playoffs but I’m excited about this year. I can’t wait.
“I just have to get reps and get my shot back. I’m scared I’ll hurt myself, that’s all that is. When you have an injury you’re scared you’ll do certain things. That’s what I’m going through right now.”
Captain Paul Pierce compared the Celtics’ bench options to those of the 2008 championship team.
“We had guys who could play multiple positions, [James] Posey and Eddie House,” Pierce said. “Now we have Courtney [Lee] and Jeff Green who can do that.”
Coach Doc Rivers plans to keep the ’ substitution patterns simple.
“The bottom line is Paul, Kevin [Garnett], [Rajon] Rondo are going to be on the floor,” Rivers said. “After that, it doesn’t get as hard as you would think. There’s only a certain amount of minutes.
“What we want to do is have the right five at the right time and it’s really the right two, because the other three will be on the floor most of the game, the last six minutes of the game. It’s not as difficult as you think. It will be Jeff Green, so it comes down to that fifth guy — another big, a guard? We have a lot of options.”
Accepting his role
Rivers on Darko Milicic, who had 15 rebounds and six blocked shots in 35 minutes in exhibition games in Turkey and Italy: “I don’t know if it’s a surprise or not. I didn’t know about Darko, but I like what he’s doing. He’s done everything we’ve asked and he’s doing a little more. And so, I’m happy. We’re not asking him to go out and be [Kareem Abdul-]Jabbar, we’re just asking him to go out and help us win games, and I think that’s helped him.”
Milicic will be expected to “rebound and be a great passer, be a big body,” said Rivers. “It’s a simple role but it’s a hard role. The whole team’s conditioning has to improve, so we’re working on that, Darko is just one of those. He picks up stuff extremely quick, his passing ability, when he’s on the floor with Kevin, it makes us a pretty good passing team. We’re not asking him to be a superstar. We want him to be a superstar in his role. If he does that, that’s great. That makes us a winning team.”Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at email@example.com.