Bradley feeling better, ready to play big role for Celtics in postseason

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BOSTON – This time of year, there isn’t a single member of the Boston Celtics roster who isn’t focused on tightening up their game for what they anticipate will be a long playoff run.
 
No one needs a stronger finish to the season than Avery Bradley, an integral part of the Celtics’ playoff plans who has missed more games than any other Celtic this season.
 
In Boston’s 114-105 win over Brooklyn, it was one of Bradley’s most impressive performances since returning to the lineup after missing a few games with a stomach flu.
 
He scored 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting, the kind of game that showed the rust he had been trying to shake off, was now replaced with a nice rhythm that he and the Celtics hope will continue into the playoffs.
 
The biggest issue Bradley had upon his return was physically having the strength to play both ends of the floor how he was accustomed to.
 
He had lost some weight because of the stomach flu, and with that a bit of strength, too.
 
But steadily, Bradley’s strength is returning to the point where he should be back to full strength by the time the playoffs arrive this weekend.
 
“I’m feeling a lot better,” Bradley said. “I’m able to keep on weight. It’s my job to continue to get to the gym, keep putting shots up, make sure I’m hydrated in the weight room.”
 
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has made it abundantly clear just how valuable Bradley is to the Celtics.
 
“I’ve told Avery all along that these last five games or so since he’s been back, that these are really important for him,” Stevens said.  “His cuts looked really sharp, he came off those screens and made shots at the end of the Charlotte game and he continued that in this game. He’s a big, important part of our chances moving forward.”
 
This season, Bradley is averaging career highs in just about every category – including games missed (27) due to illness or injury.
 
But when healthy, he’s one of the best two-way players in the NBA – the kind of player who could be the difference between them moving on from one round of the playoffs to another.
 
Al Horford is not surprised to see Bradley get into a nice flow that all the Celtics understand they’ll need from him in the postseason.
 
“He just has a better rhythm,” Horford said. “He was much more confident shooting the ball. I think his rhythm, sometimes when you’re out for a while it takes time to get back up to speed.”
 
Said Bradley: “I’m prepared for the playoffs.”

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