Avery Bradley expected to return by early January

Defensive stud Avery Bradley could be back on the court by the beginning of January.

Comcast Sports Net's A. Sherrod Blakely is reporting that the projected starting two-guard is expected back at practice within the next ten days. Danny Ainge told Blakely that Bradley, who was originally projected to be back by mid-December, has been given an extra week or two to completely heal from the two shoulder surgeries he underwent earlier this year.

Ainge also said Bradley could start in the D-League with the Maine Red Claws.

"We thought about it, but made no decision yet," Ainge said. "We'll see how his progression is. But [a D-League stint is] a consideration for sure. As of right now, we're planning for him to come back to practice in the next week to 10 days."

While getting Bradley and his defensive abilities back on the court is key to the Celtics championship hopes, he needs to be 100 percent. The Celtics certainly have enough guards, with Jason Terry, Leandro Barbosa and Courtney Lee, to hold it down until he returns.

When Bradley does return, Boston fans need to temper their expectations for the first few weeks. He has not played basketball since last year's playoffs and he'll need time to get into game shape. But from what Bradley has said about how he spent his down time, mainly watching a ton of game film, he should be even better than he was before he was injured, which was pretty damn good.