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Celtics notebook: Avery Bradley, Al Horford sit out vs. Suns

March 6, 2017 GMT

PHOENIX — Avery Bradley (first described as a hamstring strain, then listed as rest) and Al Horford (sprained right elbow) were not in uniform for yesterday’s game against the Suns, and Bradley advised that, at least in his case, all red flags should be lowered.

The Celtics’ starting shooting guard had been back for just three games after missing 22 of the previous 23 with a strained right Achilles tendon, and he wanted it made clear that he’s fine. Sitting out was simply part of his maintenance plan. He fully plans to be in the lineup tonight in Los Angeles against the Clippers.

“I really don’t feel any soreness in my hamstring,” Bradley said before the 109-106 loss to the Suns. “I think it’s just them having a timetable and they’re looking out for me. I wasn’t going to play both games on the back-to-back anyway, so it was going to be one of these games I was going to be out. This is probably the better choice for me anyway, to come back the Clippers game.”

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In other words, if there was something major at stake against the Suns, Bradley would have played.

“A hundred percent,” he said. “Yeah, a hundred percent. It’s nothing serious.”

Bradley is noted for trying to play through injuries — almost to a fault. But he’s coming around.

“I have to listen to them, you know what I mean?” he said. “There’s not much I can do when everybody’s part of it — I mean, even Danny (Ainge, the C’s president of basketball operations). Everybody’s helping make the decision, so I’m just trying to listen to them, trust them. That’s their job, and it’s my job to go out there and play basketball.

“It’s beyond frustrating, but I guess I have to just trust them and just be ready for the next game. But it definitely is frustrating. I’ve had like five of my teammates ask me if I’m OK, but I’m fine. I’m excited about the game (tonight), I know that.”

Horford sustained his injury Friday while trying to block a shot in LA against the Lakers.

“They don’t feel like it’s a long-long term issue,” said coach Brad Stevens. “He’s better (yesterday) — a little bit better range of motion and those type of things, feels better, a little bit stronger in the tests they gave him, but not ready to play yet. I don’t want to get into a timeline other than to say it doesn’t sound like a long-term thing.”

The forward explained that he initiated the contact, “and at the time I just kept playing, and then once the game was over the elbow started to get tight on me and sore, so we treated it that night. We don’t really have a timetable, but I’m getting treatment two, three times a day and really trying to get back acclimated as quick as I can.”

The injury comes at a rough time for Horford, who made 8-of-12 shots on the way to 17 points against the Lakers and was starting to find his form on offense.

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“I started to feel much better,” Horford said. “Some shots that I made the last game I’d just been missing the previous games, so, yeah, I felt like I was getting my rhythm back. So this is a little setback for me, but I just hope to get back on the court soon. That part is a little frustrating, but things like this happen unexpectedly. I just hope to get better as soon as possible.”

IT elementary to Watson

Suns coach Earl Watson has been familiar with Isaiah Thomas for quite a long time, so he’s in good position to characterize his rise.

“I think Isaiah’s found his rhythm,” Watson said. “He’s always been a confident scorer, but I think he’s kind of settled into leading the team. Everyone believes in him, so that makes him more powerful. He’s had an amazing season.

“We know he dominates the fourth quarter, but he’s been scoring his entire life. I was in Seattle when he was in high school, and he was breaking records in high school. I’ve said this before: I don’t think Isaiah, all of a sudden it clicked for him as a player. I think just all of a sudden he got an opportunity.”

Brown gets nod

Jaylen Brown got the start for Bradley and had 14 points and six rebounds in 30 minutes. He hit just five of his 10 free throws, part of a larger problem for the Celts.

The visitors took 40 foul shots to the Suns’ 26, but they outscored them just 29-21 from the line after shooting 72.5 percent.

The C’s outrebounded Phoenix, 54-50, making this just the second loss in 21 games when getting the same number or more boards than the opponent.