Celtics

Late run not enough as C's fall to Hawks

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Late run not enough as C's fall to Hawks

ATLANTA The debate leading up to the Boston Celtics' and Atlanta Hawks' Game 1 matchup centered around the two R's: Rest and rhythm.

Boston chose rest down the stretch, while the Hawks opted more for rhythm.

Score one for rhythm as the Hawks were in a good flow all night in defeating the C's, 8374.

Boston spent the entire game playing catch-up, but were able to trim Atlanta's lead down to single digits in the fourth quarter after a jumper by Brandon Bass made it a 6759 game with more than nine minutes to play.

He would later hit another jumper that cut Atlanta's lead to 7368, only for Atlanta's Jeff Teague moments later to drill a 3-pointer that gave the Hawks a much-needed cushion of eight points with 3:05 to play.

The Celtics weren't out of it just yet, with Paul Pierce nailing a jumper that cut the Hawks' lead down to four with 1:01 to play, seemingly one defensive stop away from making things interesting.

And that's when all hell broke loose.

Atlanta's Joe Johnson lost control of the ball and a mad scramble ensued. Eventually, official Marc Davis called a personal foul on the Celtics with which all of them namely Rajon Rondo disagreed.

Rondo voiced his displeasure towards Marc Davis and then bumped into the back of Davis, which led to a double technical foul and an automatic ejection. It remains to be seen if the league will look to suspend Rondo for the contact he made with Davis.

Even before Rondo lost his composure, the Celtics were in trouble especially when it came to rebounding.

And the man giving them the biggest fits on the boards was Josh Smith. In addition to his 22 points and four assists, he also grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds.

The Hawks now lead the best-of-seven series 10 with Game 2 in Atlanta on Tuesday.

Atlanta began the game with a blistering 208 run and never looked back in handing the Big Three a rare Game 1 loss.

While much has been made of Boston's championship pedigree, they have a number of players experiencing their first real run through the playoffs this season . . . and for some, it certainly looked like it.

Avery Bradley, who has played with such poise and confidence for much of the season, appeared rattled early and often in the first half.

His on-the-ball pressure wasn't nearly as stifling as it has been this season, and he consistently came up short offensively by shooting just 3-for-10 in the first half.

Of Bradley's misses, none loomed as large as the wide-open 3-pointer, from the corner in front of the Celtics' bench, that was wide left as it grazed the rim.

After falling behind 4627, the C's scored eight of the game's next 10 points to come within 13 at 4835.

Bradley, who had just made a lay-up the previous possession, missed the wide open 3-pointer.

Moments later, Johnson was fouled and made one of two free throws, which would be the final point of the first half, which ended with the Celtics trailing 4935.

Keeping the Celtics in the game was Rondo, who, for a change, wasn't relying on his teammates to finish plays.

He was in scorer's mode, tallying 12 points at the half on 6-for-9 shooting. Rondo finished with 20 points, 11 assists and four steals.

The Celtics came out with a much more aggressive demeanor defensively, and slowly but surely cut into the Hawks lead.

A lob dunk by Bradley brought the Celtics within 5343 with 7:05 to play in the third.

The Celtics were not able to inch any closer in the third quarter, which ended with the Hawks ahead, 6553. And the run that carried them late into the fourth hit a wall with Rondo's ejection.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics drop back-to-back games

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics drop back-to-back games

0:41 - Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith give their thoughts on Kyrie Irving’s struggles, not having Gordon Hayward, and the Celtics losing for the 2nd time in as many nights.

6:31 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins BST to discuss the message delivered by Hayward to the fans before the game, what was going on with Kyrie’s shot, and why they failed in stopping The Greek Freak.

10:33 - Albert Breer joins BST to preview the Falcons/Patriots Sunday night game and if Atlanta is in the middle of a Super Bowl hangover.

15:40 - In a new game called On The Clock, each person gets 40 seconds to rant on their selected subject including if Red Sox fans can root for the Yankees if the playoffs and how painful the Bruins season will be. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Stars, studs and duds: Bucks capitalize on Celtics mistakes

Stars, studs and duds: Bucks capitalize on Celtics mistakes

BOSTON – Even if Gordon Hayward weren’t out indefinitely with dislocated left ankle and fractured tibia, the Boston Celtics would still be working on finding the right combinations to play with that works.

But without him, that process becomes much more challenging as we saw in Wednesday’s 108-100 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

The team’s newer faces in new roles created some old-as-beginning-of-time problems for the Celtics with players not consistently being where they were supposed to while in the game.

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“They (Milwaukee) capitalized on a lot of mistakes we made,” said Boston’s Terry Rozier. “We messed up on a lot of plays. That can’t happen.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens didn’t mince his words when it came to succinctly explaining how Boston now finds itself on a two-game losing streak to start the season which hasn’t happened since his rookie season as the Celtics’ head coach in 2013.

“Both nights I thought that we got outplayed,” Stevens said.

Rozier agreed.

“Like he (Stevens) said, … you better learn those plays or you won’t play,” Rozier said.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 108-100 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

 

STARS

Giannis Antetokounmpo

The Greek Freak will be a legit top-5 MVP candidate for his ability to simply fill up the stat sheet every night. Boston had no answer for him on Wednesday, as Antetokounmpo finished with 37 points, 13 rebounds and three assists along with three steals.

 

STUDS

Jaylen Brown

Two games into the season and Brown is looking very much like one of the league’s most improved players. He delivered another strong performance on Wednesday, tallying 18 points and five rebounds which included nine points scored in the third quarter. He fouled out with 1:48 to play.

Terry Rozier

He was having a near triple-double kind of night in a very quiet, below-the-radar fashion. He would finish with 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists off the Celtics bench.

Malcolm Brogdon

The NBA’s reigning Rookie of the Year was once again making his presence felt at both ends of the floor. In addition to some solid play defensively, Brogdon also had 19 points and four assists.

 

DUDS

Kyrie Irving

This just wasn’t Irving’s night. He got lots of good looks but far too often, came up short. He would finish with 17 points for Boston, but shot just 7-for-25 from the field. He has to be more efficient than that for the Celtics to be successful, especially with Gordon Hayward out indefinitely.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE