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Hawks stave off Celtics comeback in Game 1, Celtics lose Avery Bradley


in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 16, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. 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.

Kevin C. Cox

The comeback was for naught. Even after clawing their way back from a 51-34 halftime deficit with some hot shooting, the Celtics fell just short of the Hawks in Game 1 in Atlanta, losing 102-101.

The Celtics have bigger things to worry about than losing this game, though. In the second half, Avery Bradley tweaked his right hamstring and left the game.

Losing Bradley, their best perimeter defender, for an extended period of time would be brutal for the Celtics. But they have to be encouraged by the second-half effort. They found success creating turnovers and getting out in transition to score, and got big plays in the third quarter from Bradley, Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart.

Atlanta’s counter-punch in the fourth quarter was led by Jeff Teague, who shouldered much of the load offensively after his backup, Dennis Schroder, struggled.

And even after all of that, the Celtics still had a chance to win. Smart missed this heave at the buzzer with less than a second left that came just after the buzzer but almost went in: