Avery Bradley powers the Boston Celtics defense. He’s the kind of player you turn a franchise around with. That’s just what GM Danny Ainge and head coach Brad Stevens have done in Boston — righted the ship and restored dignity to the legendary franchise. The Celtics finished 48-34 behind the strong guard play of Bradley and Isaiah Thomas. They competed hard against the Atlanta Hawks in Atlanta in Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs, falling to the home team 102-101 after a furious double-digit comeback put them in position to win.
The Celtics can recover from the loss — it’s a long series. But the loss of Bradley for the full slate of remaining Hawks games is what has the Celts smarting. Midway through the 4th quarter, Bradley pulled a hamstring on a typically hard defensive hustle play — trying to block a layup by Atlanta’s outstanding Jeff Teague. Atlanta hosts Boston again Tuesday at 7pm for Game 2 of the series. Bradley will be in street clothes.