With the Boston Celtics announcing that guard Avery Bradley’s strained hamstring will keep him out of Game 2 and likely this first-round series, the Hawks find themselves potentially benefiting again from a significant injury to a crucial backcourt contributor on the opposing team. Yet, the Celtics made a game of it. After failing to take care of business against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night, dropping from third to fourth seed, they’ll now try their hand in a first round matchup against a young and risky Boston Celtics team built around numerous same philosophies.
Atlanta stayed in control the rest of the way with free throws, including two by Teague with 5.2 seconds to play that gave the Hawks a 102-98 lead.
“First off, nobody wants to step into that role because somebody else got hurt”, Smart said. Isaiah Thomas drew the Teague assignment.
“I didn’t see it, but that’s his opinion, you gotta respect it”, Horford said after the Hawks’ practice Monday afternoon. Marcus Smart and Evan Turner will likely be leaned on more heavily next to Thomas – who had 27 points and eight assists Saturday – while rookies R.J. “I know Ed and those guys, they’ll do a great job trying to get me back as soon as possible”, he said – his teammates seemed far more concerned about the possibility of navigating the rest of this series without him. He started out being guarded by Teague, then went against Dennis Schroder, before 6-foot-7 Thabo Sefolosha – almost a foot taller than the diminutive point guard – provided a totally different look in the second quarter. We talked about that a lot (Saturday) night. Boston has outperformed its talent all season, so it’s not out of the question that Stevens figures out a way to conjure up some more magic without Bradley.
“We’ve obviously had games without him before”, Stevens said. Given Boston’s current roster construction, Bradley is one of the few players on the team who can make a three-pointer.
The Boston Celtics’ roster epitomizes the idea that no one player is bigger than the team.
We knew there was a talent gap between these teams, but it looked like there was a talent Grand Canyon between them on Saturday, particularly with Serge Ibaka playing like his vintage self.
“It’s not one superstar”, Smart said.
Boston played six games this season without Bradley and went 3-3 during those contests, including a 106-93 win over the Hawks on November 13. If anything, it might enhance their focus after what happened a year ago.
Bradley said he was injured while he was going for a rebound and said something felt “weird”.
Celtic’s coach Brad Stevens has some hard decisions to make now with Bradley assumedly out of the lineup. Words can’t properly describe how big of a blow this is to the Celtics, especially when it comes to slowing down Hawks point guard Jeff Teague.
The Hawks dared the Celtics to shoot from beyond the arc in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, and the Celtics obliged, missing 14 of 16 in the first half.