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Pregame: Bad flashbacks for C's

3/8/2013

BOSTON -- A replay of the last meeting between the Celtics and Hawks -- you know, the one where Atlanta rallied from a 27-point deficit to win in double overtime while Rajon Rondo tore his ACL -- was looping in Boston's locker room and Avery Bradley was getting antsy just watching it.

"Yeah, it stays with us. Trust me," Bradley said. "When we watch this film, it stays with us. We think about it, think about how we blew the lead. That game was hard for us and we don’t want to let that happen again."

Bradley hinted that he peeked at the standings for the first time in a while on Friday. Boston players are aware of the growing logjam in the middle of the Eastern Conference, but are trying not to pay too much attention to the jockeying with 22 games remaining in the season.

"I feel like we’ve been improving a lot, but more than anything, it doesn’t matter where we are in the standings as long as we keep getting better as a team and prepare for the playoffs," Bradley said. "Every game matters, every game."

Clearly, he's heard Celtics coach Doc Rivers hammer that point home.

"I can’t even tell you what our exact record is," Rivers said. "But I know it’s close with everybody else’s record. That’s how much I look at it... I think later in the year, I may [look] at times. Right now, we just have to keep getting better, so that’s my focus."

Added Rivers: "I think both teams understand where we are both at -- that all our games now are important. I don’t think there’s another game this year that’s not important. It’s just that close with everybody. That’s great. That’s what I said I liked about the way we did the All-Star break -- we’ve been doing that lately anyway -- but I just like it when you come out of the break, it’s a sprint. And everybody kind of is in it, and it’s good."

The Hawks are playing without Ivan Johnson, Zaza Pachulia and DeShawnn Stevenson. Johan Petro gets the start alongside Jeff Teague, Devin Harris, Josh Smith and Al Horford.