|(Photo: Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)|
In light of the devastating news in regards to Avery Bradley's injury, Celtics coach Brad Stevens has instilled Bill Belichick's "next man up" mantra and will rely on his youngest players before Game 2 on Tuesday.
Stevens broke the news on Sunday that their starting shooting guard Avery Bradley will most likely be ruled out of their first round series against the Hawks. Stevens also reminded reporters that this isn't the first time they've played without Bradley and he will have two days to make a decision on which direction they want to go in.
"We'll have to decide whether we'll go with some of those young guys and go deep into the [bench] and play four smalls again, or if we're going to play more traditional again and go back to playing that way," Stevens said. "So we'll look at it and we'll figure that out over the next 48 hours."Celtics rookies Terry Rozier and R.J. Hunter will be called upon for help in the backcourt. Hunter, who made an appearance in the first half of Game 1 when Stevens was searching for offense, will look to provide 3-point shooting -- a void left in Bradley's absence.
Rozier, who received a healthy DNP on Saturday, has been ready for this opportunity from the moment he saw Bradley being helped off the floor in the fourth quarter of Game 1.
"It clicked in my mind, right from [Bradley's injury], that my opportunity is here, Rozier said. "I may be able to play. Coach came up to me and said 'Just be ready.' Then he came up to me after the game and said, 'Get some rest and be ready to play.' That's something that, like I said, these two days are very important for me. I just want to take my mind off a lot of things and be ready to play."After his first taste of NBA playoff basketball, Hunter isn't afraid of the big stage. At this stage of his rookie campaign, he says he's confident.
"I've been comfortable for a while now," Hunter said. "The game has slowed down a little bit, but I've been comfortable. I don't really fear anybody in the league at this point."Leading into their playoff series, injuries plagued the Celtics roster and in Game 1 they didn't end with just Bradley. Marcus Smart, who finished Saturday's game with 15 points and five rebounds, sat out of Sunday's practice to nurse a bruised left knuckle he suffered in Game 1. And Kelly Olynyk aggravated his right shoulder.
Smart and Olynyk are both expected to be in action for Game 2 on Tuesday.