NBA

Bradley to sit out again as Celtics host Blazers

BOSTON -- Fresh off not being named as a starter in the NBA All-Star Game, Isaiah Thomas has a couple of tough guards to deal with when the Portland Trail Blazers visit TD Garden late Saturday afternoon.

And he'll have to do it without running mate Avery Bradley.

Bradley, second on the Boston Celtics in scoring at 17.7 points per game and actually the team's leading rebounder at 6.9 per, will be out for the sixth time in the last seven games because of a nagging Achilles injury. He missed four games, played one and is now missing his second straight.

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"The Achilles is structurally fine, but he has a lot of soreness around it," coach Brad Stevens said of Bradley.

So, Marcus Smart will again start as the Celtics, 13-4 in their last 17 games but home losers to the New York Knicks Wednesday, have to deal with the Damian Lillard/C.J. McCollum tandem for the struggling Blazers.

Portland dropped its fourth straight Friday night, blowing a 13-point halftime lead and losing by a point at Philadelphia -- despite 30 points by Lillard, 16 by McCollum and 14 points and 10 rebounds by Mason Plumlee, who missed a potential game-winning layup at the buzzer.

That dropped the Blazers to 18-27, 0-3 on their current trip that ends against the Celtics.

"I thought we played hard and I thought we deserved to win the game," said Portland coach Terry Stotts.

Before the game, Stotts was asked about his lineup changes -- Evan Turner and Noah Vonleh getting starts -- and he said, "I'm always open to something that will make us better. I don't know how much drastic changes you can make but I think you have to look at different things in hopes of stirring it up a little bit."

Thomas, who is averaging 28.7 points per game for the season, is scoring at a 32.6 clip in the 17 games since returning from a groin strain. He has scored at least 20 points in 26 straight games and has failed to do it exactly once this season.

But Kyrie Irving and DeMar DeRozan are the Easter Conference All-Star starters.

"I've got to get better," Thomas said Friday. "That's all I take out of that. I'm not where I want to be."

Former Celtic Turner, who signed a free-agent deal with the Blazers over the summer, makes his return to TD Garden for the first of two meetings between the teams this season -- after also making a return to Philadelphia.

"Boston is probably my favorite place to play throughout my career," Turner told Oregonlive. "They definitely showed me love. Boston is like a franchise-type city. A lot of places have organizations, but Boston is a franchise-type city. You could never take the Celtics or one of (Boston's) other teams and put them in another city.

"You go on the road, there's a lot of Boston fans all over. Playing for Boston was an amazing experience. It's like being a kid again, you get to play on the TD Garden court, put on a Celtics uniform. It's just crazy to see the history and all the legends walking around. Boston was an unreal experience."

Friday night, Turner played 28 minutes, going 2-for-10 from the floor, scoring four points and dishing out five assists.

Vonleh will also have a homecoming Saturday -- he hails from nearby Haverhill, Ma. He had 10 points and five rebounds in 26 minutes.