Celtics

Bruins hope they're back in first for good

705670.jpg

Bruins hope they're back in first for good

BOSTON -- The Bruins are back in their rightful place among the Eastern Conference teams.

After falling out of the No. 2 spot in the East for the first time since Nov. 30 when Ottawa won on Friday night, the Bruins reclaimed their place atop the Northeast Division with a 3-2 shootout win over the Flyers at TD Garden on Saturday.

The Bruins are ahead of Ottawa by a single point, but they also currently have the tie-breaker by virtue of their two games in hand on the Senators. The Senators gained no ground on Boston when they dropped a 3-1 decision to the lowly Maple Leafs on Saturday night, and are running out of chances to unseat the reigning Cup champs.

It appears the divisional title could come down to the final regular-season matchup between the Bruins and Senators in April, but Boston seems much more concerned with putting out a consistent all-around effort in each of their remaining 11 games.

I think we know that time is running out here, said coach Claude Julien."With 11 games left, its important that we bring that kind of an effort, that kind of a game, night in, night out right now.

"We all know, first of all, that we want to be part of the playoff scene. Second of all, we want to be in the best position possible. And thirdly, you want to make sure you play your best hockey once the playoffs start. You have to build toward that and weve got a lot of building to do.

The Bruins took an early lead for the first time in eight games against the Flyers on Saturday, they allowed less than three goals for only the second time in 11 games during the month of March as Tim Thomas finally got his game back on track. But the bottom line is still pretty similar: The Bruins and the Senators sit in the standings with the same number of points, and Boston needs to keep winning if it hopes to retain home ice in the postseason.

Its hard to envision a defending Stanley Cup champion completely collapsing under the weight of pressure to simply qualify for the postseason, but injuries and a lot of hockey over the last two years are taking their toll. Its up to the Bruins to completely ignore all those nagging issues and simply focus on taking care of the business at hand.

It was great. I think everyone was focused, said Patrice Bergeron of the Bruins' effort on Saturday. We put that road trip in the past and tried to learn from it. We have 11 games left. Weve got to make a statement for us as a team. I think we did that against the Flyers with a great effort overall. We found a way. Yes, it wasnt easy, but still we found a way.

Its never easy for the Bruins, but theyre finding a way to hang on to their playoff pole position despite a list of hockey clubs vying to take it away from them.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics streak comes to an end

best_of_bst_podcast.jpg

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics streak comes to an end

0:41 - Tom Giles, Kayce Smith, and DJ Bean discuss the Celtics 16-game winning streak being snapped by the Miami Heat.

6:05 - Tom Curran and Mike Giardi talk about Tom Brady missing practice due to an Achilles injury and Randy Moss’ chances to make the Hall of Fame.

11:15 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins BST to discuss the mental and physical fatigue that the streak had on the Celtics and if there is a sense of relief that the streak is over.  

16:11 - With it being the 5th anniversary of the Butt Fumble, we compare it to other embarrassing sports moments in history. 

Little things prove costly for Celtics as streak comes to an end

Little things prove costly for Celtics as streak comes to an end

When you reflect upon Boston’s 16-game winning streak which came to an end with Miami’s 104-98 win on Wednesday, there were moments in just about every game that played a major factor in their success.

So it was only fitting that in the Miami loss, it would be a whole lot of little things that ultimately brought the fourth-longest winning streak in franchise history to a screeching halt.

  • Al Horford missed a pair of free throws.
  • Marcus Smart split a pair that had he made both, would have tied the game up in the fourth quarter.
  • Jayson Tatum had his only turnover of the game, in the fourth.
  • Terry Rozier had a rebound that he could not corral and bounced off his hands out of bounds.

And that doesn’t even factor in the missed open shots and unforced turnovers that collectively played a major role in Boston’s winning streak being a thing of the past now.

“I turned it over, we missed some free throws . . . we had some unfortunate things happen,” Tatum told reporters following the loss.

MORE:

Even with the loss, the Celtics (16-3) still boast the best record in the NBA.

Kyrie Irving has elevated his all-around play to a level to where he’s legitimately in the conversation as a league MVP candidate.

Jayson Tatum has established himself as one of the league’s top rookies from his draft class.

“As you could see, they kept hitting us, hitting us, until we were knocked out,” Irving said. “They deserved that win tonight.”

Disappointed with the loss, but it was not at all surprising to head coach Brad Stevens who has been raising concerns about his team’s attention to detail for the past few games and sensed it would catch up to them sooner or later.

“I told you, we’re not as good as the 16-game win streak,” Stevens said. “But we do have a lot of resolve. I can’t say enough about our guy’s will to come back. It’s incredible we were able to erase that lead that quickly and give ourselves a chance.”

Indeed, the Celtics rallied from a double-digit deficit to come within a single point in the fourth quarter. But unlike previous games, Boston couldn’t find a path to victory.

“We’re just going to continue to learn and continue to get better,” Irving said. “It’s the same things echoed when we were winning. Just continue to get better and understand, there’s still a lot for us to accomplish going forward.

He added, “It was a good streak, and it’s finally come to an end.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE