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Hawks’ shot-blockers rejecting Celtics

Al Horford contributed to the Hawks’ 15 blocked shots of Marcus Smart and the Celtics in Game 2.JESSICA RINALDI/GLOBE STAFF

The Hawks averaged 5.9 blocks per game during the regular season, tied for fourth in the league. Paul Millsap and Al Horford both finished the season among the top 20 in blocks. And over the first two games of their opening-round playoff series against the Celtics, they have made it very clear that there will be no easy baskets at the rim.

After blocking nine shots in a Game 1 win, the Hawks set a franchise record on Tuesday by swatting 15 attempts in their 89-72 victory in Game 2. Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas said it is a strength that his team must account for as this series returns to Boston for Game 3 on Friday.


“There’s a lot of openings that may look open, and once you get to the hoop there’s two or three guys around you,” Thomas said. “I do give them credit on that. But I haven’t thought of Atlanta as a scary defensive team where you’ve got to go in there and second-guess yourself on blocked shots like a DeAndre Jordan or Hassan Whiteside or things like that. But they’re good at it, and we’ve just got to make adjustments. We’ve got to know, when we do take it in we’ve got to take it in aggressively, but also look to dish it off to a big or drive and kick. They’re coming for every blocked shot, so we’ve got to pump fake or make an adjustment.”

Olynyk questionable

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said that forward Kelly Olynyk, who missed Game 2 because of lingering shoulder soreness, is questionable for Game 3. Also, guard Avery Bradley underwent an MRI on his strained hamstring on Wednesday but Stevens said he did not yet know the results. He ruled Bradley out for Games 3 and 4 and said it remained very unlikely he would return at all during this series.


Guard Marcus Smart, who suffered a bruised rib when Hawks forward Kent Bazemore inadvertently hit him with his leg on a drive to the basket, is expected to practice on Thursday, Stevens said.

Hurtin’ for certain

With Bradley and Olynyk sidelined, Smart nursing bruised ribs, Jae Crowder still slowed by an injured ankle, and Thomas experiencing pain in his surgically repaired left wrist, the Celtics are bruised and battered.

“I feel bad for those guys because this is the time of the year everybody wants to be healthy, everybody wants to play, everybody wants to get their crack at it,” Stevens said. “So I feel bad for those guys.”

But Stevens also made it clear that when you are in a playoff series, it is certainly no time for feel sorry for yourself.

“We’re going to do the very best with the guys that are available,” Stevens said. “We have a lot of good players in this room that have a done a lot of good things throughout the year. We’re going to need everybody that’s available to be at their best this weekend to give ourselves a chance in this.”

Schroder hopeful

The Hawks are hopeful that backup point guard Dennis Schroder will be able to play Friday after injuring his left ankle in the closing minutes of Game 2.

X-rays were negative. Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said Schroder is ‘‘making good progress’’ and ‘‘it’s nothing that’s real serious.’’

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.