Pierce: 'It's only one game'

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Pierce: 'It's only one game'

ATLANTA When you look at all the predictions heading into this first-round series with the Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks, most predicted the C's would emerge victorious and move on to the second round.

Within those predictions, not a sweep of the series can be found.

Which is why the Celtics are disappointed with their 83-74 loss, but far from dejected.

"We just can't panic," said Celtics captain Paul Pierce. "It's only one game. It's not the end of the world. Like I said, you gotta win four. They just held down their home court advantage in Game 1. We get another opportunity in Game 2 to steal the home court before we go back home."

The C's may have to get it done without Rajon Rondo who is awaiting word on whether he will be suspended for Game 2 after chest-bumping NBA official Marc Davis with 41 seconds to play in Boston's loss on Sunday.

Rondo said the contact he made with Davis was not intentional.

"As I was walking, I thought he stopped and my momentum carried me into him," Rondo said. "I think I even tripped on his foot. I didn't intentionally chest-bump him."

With or without Rondo, several other Celtics must step their game up if the C's are to leave Atlanta with this series tied up.

Pierce was especially off in Game 1, scoring just 12 points on 5-for-19 shooting.

"At this point, both teams know each other's plays. There's not going to be a ton of open looks," Pierce said. "I thought I really had good looks (on Sunday). For us to win, I have to be a better player; that's just what it is. I have to knock down the shots, I have to be aggressive on the offensive end. I have to do my job defensively on Joe Johnson. So I think i was a really big culprit of that (Sunday night loss)."

Pierce becoming a more efficient scorer would certainly help.

More than anything, the Celtics defense has to be more consistent.

In the days after the season end and prior to Game 1, C's head coach Doc Rivers talked about defensive consistency as being an area in need of improvement by his ball club.

"We have played great defense, but I think it's been spurt defense (recently)," Rivers said. "I want us to get back to being as solid defensively as we were (earlier)."

That will involve doing a better job against an Atlanta Hawks team that, like the Celtics, relies heavily on the jumpshot to be successful.

The Hawks led the NBA this season in shots taken between 20-24 feet away from the basket. The Celtics, meanwhile, were the league's best at defending those shots with teams shooting a league-low 30.5 percent against the C's from that distance.

While the final stats would indicate the Celtics did a decent job of defending those shots - the Hawks were 6-for-20 shooting within those shooting parameters - it doesn't tell the whole story.

In the first quarter, the Hawks were 3-for-6 on those shots, which factored heavily in the C's 13-point deficit after one quarter of play - a deficit that they were never able to recover from completely.

"The margin they built up in the first was just too great," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "We gave up 31 points to start the game on the road. It gave them confidence, and it's very hard to shut it off."

Bradley (Achilles) 'felt good' during return to Celtics lineup

Bradley (Achilles) 'felt good' during return to Celtics lineup

WALTHAM, Mass. – As the final horn blew in Boston’s 108-98 win over Charlotte on Monday night, the game was a win-win kind of night for Avery Bradley.

The Celtics (26-15) continue rolling over opponents at the TD Garden, and he played a relatively pain-free 33 minutes in the win.

It was Bradley’s first game back after missing the previous four with a strained right Achilles injury.

And the fact that he was back on the practice floor on Tuesday (be it a light practice, mind you), bodes well for his injury being a thing of the past now.

“I felt good. It wasn’t sore at all in the game,” Bradley said. “I felt I was moving good. After the game I was a little sore and this morning, but otherwise I felt good.”

Despite Boston being 4-1 this season when Bradley doesn’t play, he has immense value to this Celtics team at both ends of the floor.

Offensively he has been Boston’s second-leading scorer most of this season and currently averages a career-high 17.7 points per game along with 6.9 rebounds which is also a career high.

And defensively, Bradley is coming off a season in which he was named to the NBA’s all-Defensive First Team for the first time.

Any questions or concerns about the Achilles affecting his play defensively were put to rest Monday night when he put the defensive clamps on Nicolas Batum who missed nine of his 11 shots from the field while primarily being guarded by Bradley.

Now his offense, that’s another story.

Bradley failed to reach double digits scoring for the first time this season as he missed seven of his nine shots on Monday to finish with just five points.

But part of that had to do with Bradley passing up shots he normally takes, as well as him missing some he normally knocks down.

Considering his lay-off and the rhythm his teammates have been in shooting the ball in his absence, Bradley wisely decided to get his defensive bearings on track and gradually bring his offensive game around. 

“I have to get my (shooting) rhythm back,” said Bradley who is making a career-best 40.9 percent of his 3-pointers this season. “I’m fine. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s game.”