This time, the Celtics are going to be cautious with Avery Bradley’s right ankle. An MRI Tuesday revealed Bradley re-sprained the ankle in a game Feb. 5 against the Philadelphia 76ers and he will be out indefinitely.
Bradley said Monday after missing the Celtics’ win over the Milwaukee Bucks that he had a bone bruise and wasn’t concerned that the injury was more serious. He was right, but the team will make sure he doesn’t return prematurely as coach Brad Stevens would not set a return date.
Stevens said Bradley will be out until at least after this weekend’s All-Star break and may not return Wednesday against the Phoenix Suns, despite a 10-day break.
“Hopefully it’s going to be something that’s not long term,” Stevens said before the Celtics’ 104-92 loss to the Spurs Wednesday night at TD Garden. “It doesn’t look like it will be. It looks like it’s just the same as the first [sprain]. He was obviously sore. He played against Dallas [Sunday] and didn’t look like himself.”
Bradley was flourishing as a shooting guard before the injury and missing time will rob the Celtics of the opportunity to watch Bradley and Rajon Rondo play together in the backcourt.
“It’s always concerning when a guy is unable to play and again it’s not a long-term issue,” Stevens said. “I know that our doctors and our training staff do their due diligence and [will] be very conservative in bringing him back, as we should be.”
Meanwhile, Brandon Bass was back in the lineup after leaving the Milwaukee game in the third quarter with a corneal abrasion sustained when he was poked in the left eye by Zaza Pachulia. Bass was in the starting lineup and did not wear any protective goggles. He finished with 12 points and five rebounds in 21 minutes.
The next time the Celtics return home — Feb. 26 against the Hawks — the trade deadline will have passed and the roster could be dramatically different. Rondo was asked his thoughts about being involved in constant rumors.
“Well I don’t watch TV, it’s been like that my last eight years as a Celtic,” he said. “Until a trade gets pulled, I’ll remain a Celtic. It’s only two guys that are in rumors. And the guys that aren’t rumors, sometimes their names might get called and that’s just part of the league. We have a pretty young team, but for the most part, we don’t talk about trades.”
He is the dean of NBA coaches and the king of the straight answer and Gregg Popovich was his normal self as he addressed the media before the game.
When asked if he was pleased with his team’s progress at the All-Star break despite a rash of injuries, he deadpanned: “Coaches are never happy. I don’t know where we are because we play a different team every night and we got different guys available all the time. We’re a pretty good team. We’re not ready for the playoffs, that’s for sure.”
And he comments on the versatility of veteran forward Matt Bonner: “Everybody has a role. We don’t post-up Matt Bonner and for good reason, he couldn’t score on you. He’s a great kid. He knows his role and he can knock down a 3. So that’s what he does.”
Stevens spent his off day Tuesday visiting former Butler player Andrew Smith, who played all four of his seasons for Stevens, a member of the two teams that made it to the NCAA championship game. Smith, a 6-foot-11-inch center, was playing in Lithuania when he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He has returned home to Zionsville, Ind., to recuperate.
“It was obviously a good time for me [to visit] and it was great to see Andrew,” Stevens said. “Anytime you have somebody that you really care about that’s struggling with something, I think it’s paramount to any of us that we would go and find a way to get out there and see that person. It worked out with his treatments, the timing of those. With us being in Milwaukee and being off on Tuesday, it made a lot of sense to do it.”
Popovich gave one of his veterans a night off, sending Tony Parker back to San Antonio for a brief break prior to his All-Star appearance. Former University of Texas guard Cory Joseph, a teammate of Kelly Olynyk’s on the Canadian National Team, started at point guard for San Antonio. Forward Tiago Splitter, who scored 23 points in a November 2012 game at TD Garden, is also out with a right calf contusion . . . Newly signed Chris Johnson is shooting 46.2 percent from the 3-point line (18 for 39) and 40.7 on 2-pointers (11 for 27).