Celtics' Bradley returning to starting lineup against Hawks

They did, and it helped end their longest losing streak in two months.

Isaiah Thomas saw his 43 game streak of 20 or more points come to an end against the Hawks in a 19-point performance on a terrible shooting night for the C's.

Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said before Monday night's game it was time for his team to start turning things around.

"I'm not as anxious about Isaiah; I'm anxious about how our team's playing", Stevens said. Playing against the same Hawks team that often frustrated him during Boston's first-round playoff exit last season, Thomas couldn't finish near the basket (3-of-13 at the rim) or loosen things up from the outside (1-of-7 beyond 12 feet).

Budenholzer said seeing his team win a physical affair is a good sign. I think they're one of the best teams in the league using their hands - in a legal way.

"They were really aggressive on him", Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. Heading into the night, Thomas was averaging 29.7 points per game, second only to Westbrook and his 31 points per game nightly average.

Boston was off all night offensively, despite the return of guard Avery Bradley to the starting lineup after missing 22 of the previous 23 games with a right Achilles tendon injury.

Early in the third quarter, Thomas went against Howard on a switch, and the big man grabbed the guard by the shoulders and bent him back. A review upheld the personal foul call (Howard seemed to apologize to Thomas) but soon after Al Horford hit Howard hard as Howard went for a shot. The play resulted in a technical on Howard and a chorus of boos from the TD Garden crowd.

After the game, the National Basketball Association announced that Howard's second technical should have actually been ruled non-unsportsmanlike.

In Atlanta last month, Dennis Schroder accused Thomas of trash-talking against his mother, a charge Thomas denied.

The Celtics couldn't find any offensive flow in the first half, connecting on just 38 percent of their attempts from the field (18 of 47) and 34 of 87 (39 percent) for the game.

"Tonight was just an off night for me", he said. "And then, when we played Toronto, they showed two or three guys". It was just the second time this season he has not scored at least 20 points. I feel like Atlanta deserves to be credited for (last night); I thought they played great.

NOTES: While the Celtics host the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday, the Hawks open a six-game homestand over 10 days against the Dallas Mavericks.

  • Julie Sanders