Hawks' Smith suffers knee injury, questionable for Game 3

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Hawks' Smith suffers knee injury, questionable for Game 3

ATLANTA As if the Atlanta Hawks haven't had enough injuries to their frontcourt, they may be even more short-handed in Game 3 against Boston on Friday.

Josh Smith, who has given the Celtics major problems in both Games 1 and 2, had to leave the floor in the fourth quarter with a left knee sprain. Before he left, he had 16 points and a team-high 12 rebounds.

Smith left the game with 4:20 to play and the Celtics ahead, 74-72.

Just 21 seconds after he left the floor, the Celtics doubled their lead following a turnover by Joe Johnson - Johnson re-entered the game for Smith at the 4:20 mark - that led to a Paul Pierce dunk.

"I don't know much about (Smith)," Hawks coach Larry Drew said during his post-game press conference on Tuesday night. "We'll know more after he's examined. He is one of our go-to guys down the stretch. We were missing all of the things that he brings to the table for us, especially down low."

But you won't find a tear shed in the locker room down the hall, not with the Celtics playing without Rajon Rondo, the NBA's assists leader this season, and Ray Allen who is the NBA's all-time leader in 3-pointers made.

The C's have been dealing with injuries - some minor while others have been season-enders - throughout the lockout-shortened NBA season.

While Smith's injury doesn't appear to be too serious, he falls in line with what's becoming a growing number of players suffering injuries in the playoffs.

Chicago's Derrick Rose is out for the season following a torn anterior cruciate ligament near the end of Chicago's Game 1 win over Philadelphia. New York rookie Iman Shumpert also suffered a torn ACL in Game 1 of their playoff series against Miami.

And the Hawks, already without Al Horford (chest) and Zaza Pachulia (foot) sidelined, may become even more short-handed depending on the severity of Smith's injury.

Isaiah Thomas' recent shooting woes mirror those of Celtics

Isaiah Thomas' recent shooting woes mirror those of Celtics

BOSTON – As Isaiah Thomas walked off the TD Garden floor Monday night in the fourth quarter of the Celtics' 114-98 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, the All-Star guard’s franchise streak of 43 games with 20 or more points scored was about to end.
 
Credit the Hawks, whose defense made life miserable for Thomas most of the game, limiting him to 4-for-21 shooting (19 percent) which stands as the worst shooting night for Thomas as Celtic when he has taken at least 10 shots from the field.
 
Thomas chalks up his struggles Monday as just one of those bad nights that comes from time to time in an 82-game season, but it’s part of what has been a stretch of inefficient shooting games for him.
 
And it’s not a coincidence that the Celtics (38-22) have lost three of their past four at the same time Thomas finds himself in one of his worst four-game stretches for shooting the ball this season.
 
In fact, Thomas has shot just 35.4 percent from the field in Boston’s past four games. In that span, he has made less than 45 percent of his shots in each game, which is only the second time this season he has had a four-game stretch like that.
 
And while defenses certainly give him more attention than any other Celtic, he’s still getting to the spots he wants to get to while taking the shots that are best for him.
 
The only difference of late, is that more shots are off the mark than previously.
 
“I missed a lot of shots in the paint. I got where I wanted to,” Thomas said. “That wasn’t just me; that was our team. We missed a lot of shots we normally make.”
 
Which is why there’s no sense of panic or heightened concern on the part of the Celtics heading into their game Wednesday night against the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
 
Boston rookie Jaylen Brown was quick to credit Atlanta for doing a good job defensively against the Celtics.
 
But he too recognized that at times they were their own worst enemy with all of the blown opportunities.
 
“We missed a bunch of easy shots and I think that is just focus,” Brown said. “We’re not going to hit every shot every game, but I do expect us to play a little bit better than what we did and I think we’re more capable of being a bit more locked in. It happens; you just got to forget about it and bounce back Wednesday against Cleveland.”