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As Celtics Contemplate Sitting Ray Allen, Bradley's Absence Trumps Bosh's Injury

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 18: Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics comforts teammate Avery Bradley #0 as he winces in pain during the game against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the Wells Fargo Center on May 18, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Sixers won 92-83. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
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Holly MacKenzieNBA Lead BloggerMay 29, 2012

With Chris Bosh and Avery Bradley both out of action in the Eastern Conference finals, it's natural to think about whose absence is a bigger issue for his respective team.

It makes sense. It still feels crazy, though, especially considering where Bradley started this season. While Bosh was always part of the Heat's Big Three, Bradley was considered an afterthought when this season tipped off on Christmas Day.

After breaking out in the second half of the season, Bradley took advantage of an opening created when Ray Allen went down with injury.

That injury is why Bradley's absence has hurt the Celtics more than Bosh's absence has hurt the Heat.

Doc Rivers told ESPN's Jackie MacMullan that he is considering resting Allen for a game to get him some rest in hopes of alleviating the pain caused by bone spurs in his ankles.

"It's a tough call with him," Rivers said Tuesday afternoon. "We're trying to figure out a different minute rotation for him, maybe that will help him. We're even considering sitting him for a game, getting him a longer rest and then playing him, and then sitting him for a game. We don't know what the right thing is."

Being without Bosh has presented the Heat with its share of problems, but when you're putting LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on the floor, there's a good chance that you're winning, regardless of what else is happening.

In comparison, the Celtics are without Bradley, their youngest rotation player and their best perimeter defender. The guy who was coming in off of the bench for him is Allen, and now Allen is injured and struggling mightily in the 2012 playoffs.

Averaging just 9.6 points in the playoffs (half of what he averaged last postseason), there have been flashes of Allen being Allen, but there have been more moments when he has looked like a completely different player hobbled by injury.

Rivers addressed the struggle in coaching an injured veteran like Allen:

"It's hard to watch at times," Rivers told MacMullan. "The Philly game, Game 7, was a hard thing for me. Should I pull him? You're going back and forth, my staff all wanted me to pull him. You go with your gut and you keep him in and he makes back-to-back threes."

While Allen himself has said that he'll deal with his ankles after the season is over, the Celtics are in trouble without Bradley. Thin isn't even the proper word to describe Miami's frontcourt depth behind Bosh, but it's still better than what Boston is working through.

Without Bradley, the Celtics don't have a hope of slowing down Wade on defense. Offensively, they lose the opportunity to get out in transition with Rajon Rondo finding Bradley for an easy layup or alley-oop.

The Celtics already were the veteran team. Take Bradley out of the equation, and that experience looks more like a liability than a luxury.

In almost every case, the loss of an All-Star is going to be a bigger blow than the loss of a player just starting to carve out a name for himself. Of course, with Wade and James on the same team, the Heat are the exception to this rule.

Advantage Miami.

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