Smith: 'We have to duplicate what Celtics do'

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Smith: 'We have to duplicate what Celtics do'

BOSTON As Josh Smith sat on the Atlanta Hawks bench, he could see how hard Ray Allen was running to get free for a shot. He could see how alert all the Celtics big men were in setting picks and screens to free Paul Pierce, or how his old prep school running mate, Rajon Rondo, was so deliberate in his dissecting of the Hawks defense. And defensively, the way the Celtics closed out on shooters, prevented others from getting the ball in their sweet spots it left quite an impression on Smith, for sure.

Despite the fact that the C's were whipping his Hawks so soundly, there was still a level of appreciation on Smith's part for how the Celtics went about dismantling the Hawks, 101-79, on Sunday. Boston now leads the best-of-seven series 3-1 with a chance to close out the series in Atlanta on Tuesday.

It was in many ways a clinic on what you need to do in order to win in the playoffs.

And Smith acknowledged the lessons learned Sunday night, he hopes to bring them back to Atlanta for Game 5.

"We have to duplicate what they do," Smith said.

Atlanta's efforts will likely improve with Al Horford now having a game under his belt.

After missing all but 11 games during the regular season, Horford made an unexpected postseason debut in Game 4 on Sunday. He came off the bench and finished with 12 points and five rebounds, seemingly getting stronger as the game went on.

They'll need him to have an even better game on Tuesday.

Ditto for Smith whose left knee injury has him looking like a shell of the player who dominated play in Games 1 and 2, before the knee injury kept him out of Game 3.

"It feels OK," said Smith who still managed to score 15 points on Sunday in addition to grabbing 13 rebounds. "It'll probably feel a little sore tomorrow. That's what happens when you come back from an injury."

Yes he's still hurting and chances are, he'll be hurting when the Hawks face the Celtics on Tuesday.

But he says the injury won't keep him from playing in what may very well be the Hawks' last game of the season.

"It's a must-win game," he said. "I know we're fighting odds now. But it shouldn't be no quit in this team. We have to go out and establish ourselves early and we have to get a win to force a sixth game."

Celtics guard Keyon Dooling expects Game 5 will be the C's toughest this series.

"It's a great opportunity," Dooling said of closing out the series. "I just feel like it won't be an easy task. We gotta come in with the right frame of mind. We have to be focused and we have to go down there and compete. They will be a desperate team. They don't want to go out like this. I think they'll come out clawing and scratching. We have to be prepared to match their energy."

Bradley could miss 'a little more time' with Achilles injury

Bradley could miss 'a little more time' with Achilles injury

BOSTON – Wednesday’s 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks was the fifth time in the last six games that Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley was out because of a right Achilles injury.

Well, it appears the 6-foot-2 guard may miss a few more with this injury.

“I can see him missing a little more time,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said following Wednesday’s loss. “I just think maybe he came back a little bit too early, whatever the case may be.”

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Bradley was expected to play against the Knicks, but was a last-minute scratch.

Celtics big man Al Horford said he didn’t find out Bradley was out until the team was on the floor doing pre-game warmups and he didn’t see him.

“He was really sore,” Stevens said of Bradley. “Went through our walk-through and then came on to the court and did some stuff and was more sore today than he has been. I think he did treatment the whole game.”

This latest setback for Bradley is part of a growing narrative that has dogged him throughout his career which has included him missing games to injury in each of his six-plus NBA seasons.

Bradley came into this season once again hoping to be as injury-free as possible, only to see that dream dashed with this right Achilles strain he's suffering with currently.

Still, there’s no downplaying the significance and value the Celtics have in the 26-year-old. This season, he is second on the Celtics in scoring at 17.7 points per game and leads them in rebounds with 6.9 per game with both being career highs. In addition, he averages just under 35 minutes per game which is also tops on the team.

Marcus Smart has been Stevens’ choice to replace Bradley in the starting lineup when Bradley has been unavailable, and that’s not likely to change between now and Saturday’s home game against the Portland Trail Blazers.