ATLANTA – With Ray Allen (ankle) doubtful and Rajon Rondo suspended, the Celtics are set to go with an Avery Bradley-Mickael Pietrus backcourt against the Hawks in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series Tuesday night.
Bradley struggled in his playoff debut, scoring 10 points on 4-for-12 shooting in an 83-74 loss to the Hawks Sunday.
“I thought he was looking for things, he was looking to shoot,’’ coach Doc Rivers said. “When your mind gets too active that usually hurts you - that’s what I always tell our guys as a joke. That hurt Avery. He was thinking about what he was trying to do instead of allowing the game to dictate what he should do.
“As a coach, you’ve got to anticipate it a little bit. It’s his first playoff game and to expect him to walk on the floor and go for 30 - I was ready for whatever happened. Avery’s good, though, he’s a confident kid.’’
Allen shot before practice, then went to an exercise room at Georgia Institute of Technology. Rondo did not address the media, proceeding from the team bus to the training room.
Rivers was not optimistic about Allen.
“If Ray’s not ready, he’s not ready,’’ Rivers said. “One thing I won’t do, I won’t put a guy out there that’s not ready. I just won’t put him on the floor. If Ray told me he could play and Eddie [Lacerte] said he could play, he would play.
“He said he felt a little better but I don’t see it right now.’’
Long way to go
Paul Pierce said the Celtics planned to regroup.
“This is a long series, you have to win four games,’’ he said. “We just can’t panic. It’s only one game, it’s not the end of the world. They held the home-court advantage in Game 1. There will be another opportunity in Game 2, we’ll try to steal one before we go back home.’’
Pierce said the Celtics will attempt “to establish ourselves defensively. We’ve got to play with more physicality. You know, they got a lot of easy baskets, a lot of layups, a lot of easy transition. And we’ve just got to learn from our mistakes, learn from the first quarter, learn from what we did better after that. And we’ve got to learn to keep our composure.’’
The Celtics won twice in a 24-hour span in late January with a Bradley-Pietrus starting backcourt – 91-83 at Orlando and 94-87 over Indiana in Boston. Neither guard generated significant numbers, but Bradley’s defense against the Magic’s Jameer Nelson and the Pacers’ Darren Collison set the tone.
After Rondo’s two-game suspension in February, the Celtics lost to Dallas (89-73) and Oklahoma City (119-104) as they fell to 15-17 before the All-Star break.
Bradley emerged as a viable replacement after Rondo sprained his wrist Jan. 20 and missed eight games.
“We’ve gone down this road before with injury,’’ Rivers said. “We played well in that stretch.
“This is a resilient basketball team - that’s what we are, that’s what we’ve been all year. Sometimes it takes this stuff - for whatever reason - to snap us into the right play. I don’t know if we will win or lose tomorrow but I guarantee you we’re going to be ready to play.’’
Keyon Dooling played six minutes in the opener but likely will be relied on more in Game 2.
“Adversity has been the theme of the season - whether it’s been players out, hurt, in or out of the rotation,’’ Dooling said. “If any team is equipped to deal with the situation it’s us. We’re battle-tested, we’re deep, we’re a veteran bunch. We’ve overcome a lot this year.
“I’ve played in the playoffs several times, so I know how to play in the playoffs. We still plan to go out and play our game plan, play our basketball, and win every time we step on the court.’’
The Celtics committed only six turnovers in Game 1, less an indication of precise ballhandling than a byproduct of failing to move the ball.
Rivers said the Celtics approached Game 1 as if “our jerseys were going to win the game for us.’’
“I was trying to sum up my thoughts,’’ Rivers said. “It’s always a tendency when you’ve had success to lean back on your past. And no one really cares. It’s what you do tomorrow, it’s not what you did yesterday. That may be what I should have said, but I’m not a writer.’’Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at email@example.com.