The Celtics were without Mickael Pietrus, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett on Friday night. To say Boston was undermanned is like saying Kevin Millar and Pedro Martinez didn’t exactly hit their marks during their speech at Fenway Park’s 100th birthday celebration earlier today.
Despite this, the B-squad put together a valiant effort against the Hawks, but fell short, 97-92. Joe Johnson led the way for Atlanta with 30 points on 11-of-18 shooting. Avery Bradley had a stellar performance for the Celtics, scoring a career-high 28 points on 12-of-22 shooting.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
‘A’ is for ‘Avery': Avery Bradley scored 17 first-half points for the second straight game. He scored in a variety of ways: off strong cuts (his forte), penetrating to the basket, pull up jumpers — everything, really. He was 8-of-13 shooting, and carried the team offensively. In a game where he truly had to be, Bradley was exceptional and, at times, looked like a leader — keep in mind, he is just 21 years old.
Car Keys: While Bradley certainly figures to be prominently involved in the upcoming playoff run, Doc Rivers using the B-squad Friday night gave an opportunity for Keyon Dooling to show he can contribute to the Celtics cause. He started the game a perfect 4-of-4 shooting and had 10 first half points, including an impressive floating tear drop after abusing Vladimir Radmanovic off the dribble.
Hardly Intimidated: The Hawks beat the Celtics Friday night, but it wasn’t exactly a frightening performance from the potential first round playoff opponent. The Celtics hung around largely because of their offense — shooting 60 percent in the first half — and Atlanta didn’t exactly look like world beaters against the makeshift Boston lineups. In fact, the Celtics cut the lead to just one, 87-86, with just over two minutes remaining in the game. This was a closer game than it should have been from Atlanta’s perspective.
WHAT WENT WRONG
No Average Joe: A concern while starting Bradley at shooting guard is whether he can handle guarding players who can shoot over him. Bradley wasn’t tasked with covering Johnson every trip down the floor, but Johnson’s line was impressive nonetheless as he was able to post up Bradley on occasion.
In Defense of Defense: It’s certainly hard to put a great deal of stock into Friday night’s contest. After all, Boston was missing five rotational players. On the other hand, the team relented 58 first half points — the Hawks shot over 60% themselves through 24 minutes.
Bass-ically Non-Existent: Not a great night for Brandon Bass. The starting power forward scored 10 points and shot 4-of-15 from the field on a night where Boston desperately needed the few core players that were active to step up.