Bruins

Celtics-Bucks preview review: What we saw...

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Celtics-Bucks preview review: What we saw...

BOSTON It will be a week from today before the Boston Celtics return home for playoff Games 3 and 4 against the Atlanta Hawks. While much of the attention following Boston's 87-74 win over Milwaukee on Thursday centered around them beginning the playoffs on the road, winning at home will also be important.
The Celtics had their problems at home this season, but closed out the month of April with home victories in six of their seven games at the Garden.
Boston establishing a presence at home was indeed a major factor in beating the Bucks. Here are some other keys identified prior to the game, and how they actually played out.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: At this point, the goal is to get the core guys a chance to break a sweat, do a little damage on the scoreboard, and start looking ahead to Sunday's Game 1 matchup against Atlanta. Rajon Rondo (back) is expected back in the lineup tonight. Don't look for him to play his usual near-40 minutes tonight. Garnett will likely see some, but not a lot, of playing time tonight. Ditto for Paul Pierce, who has maintained for days that he doesn't want to miss any games leading into the playoffs.
"Rest is important, obviously, but you want to have a good rhythm going into the playoffs, too," Pierce told CSNNE.com. "Right now, my body feels pretty good and I'm in a pretty good rhythm, so I don't want to do anything to disrupt that."
WHAT WE SAW: Rondo played just over 25 minutes and finished with 15 assists for his 24th straight game with 10 or more assists. "I don't know if he can get 15 assists in 25 minutes in in a playoff game," said Bucks coach Scott Skiles.
"There are going to be better defensive teams in the playoffs. He made it look pretty easy."
Garnett played just over 11 minutes and Pierce and a sore big toe injury limited Pierce to under seven minutes of action but he still managed to get 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Doc Rivers vs. Scott Skiles: They're not going to log a minute on the floor tonight -- although that would probably make for more interesting matchup than the actual game -- but the way they handle things tonight will be worth keeping tabs on. Rivers wants to give his main guys rest, but with home court within reach, he has to balance that need with giving his team the best shot at winning. As for Skiles, it's hard to get his guys motivated tonight with no chance at the playoffs and no way of helping or hurting your position for the NBA draft. This is one of those games where a fast start by Boston might be enough to put this game out of reach quickly.
WHAT WE SAW: Neither coach had much of an impact on this game, although it was clear that Rivers' players played with with the kind of attention to detail that you would like to see from guys who know that they're probably not going to play much for the rest of the season. The Bucks looked for long stretches, like a team that had nothing to gain or lose on Thursday. Having already been eliminated from the playoffs and unable to drop any further in the NBA standings -- which would have increased their chances of landing the No. 1 pick in June's NBA draft -- motivation certainly was a challenge for them.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Mickael Pietrus will return to the lineup after missing four games with swelling in his right knee. He is one of the biggest X-factors for Boston in the playoffs. His ability to stretch defenses while making life difficult as possible for opponents with his defense, will be huge for the Celtics in the postseason. Like most of the Celtics core guys, don't look for him to log too many minutes with the playoffs right around the corner.
WHAT WE SAW: After missing the last four games, he made his first three shots from the field and finished with nine points.
"I was moving pretty well," said Pietrus, who was out with swelling in his right knee that has pretty much subsided by now. "You know I try to get in, try to help my team the best way I can, and get ready for the playoffs."

STAT TO TRACK: Milwaukee has been one of the best all season at forcing turnovers, with opponents committing 15.9 per game which ranks fourth in the NBA. Those turnovers have led to 18.9 points per game which ranks fifth in the NBA. The C's have been middle-of-the-pack in terms of points off turnovers with 16.3, No 15 in the NBA this season. As far as turnovers, Boston ranks sixth with 15.6 forced per game.
WHAT WE SAW: The Bucks didn't play a lot of their core guys - just like the Celtics - and it certainly showed in their inability to generate easy points off of turnovers. Milwaukee forced the Celtics into committing 15 turnovers but only generated 14 points off of Boston's mistakes. Meanwhile, the C's forced 23 Bucks turnovers which led to 18 points.
"They got into us pretty good, but we made some plays that we haven't made all year," said Bucks coach Scott Skiles. "We made some decisions with the ball that we normally wouldn't make. They got into us, they were physical, and they caused us problems."

Acciari misses Bruins practice with upper-body injury

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Acciari misses Bruins practice with upper-body injury

BRIGHTON, Mass – Noel Acciari was in and out of the Bruins lineup in the Monday afternoon loss to the Dallas Stars with an upper-body injury and the fourth-line grinder was missing from the practice ice on Tuesday as well. 

Acciari has been able to stay healthy the past few months while helping to establish Boston’s fourth line and has added to his hard-hitting style of play with six goals in 28 games this season.

But there's been a litany of injuries the past few seasons given the physical pounding the 5-foot-10, 208-pounder takes given his rugged style of play. This current injury limited him to just 6:05 of ice time in an overtime loss to the Stars. Still, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy was optimistic that Acciari would be able to suit up against the Canadiens on Wednesday night in Claude Julien’s return to TD Garden.

“Jake DeBrusk was under the weather and so was Kevan Miller, so they stayed home,” said Cassidy of Acciari, who has missed 14 games this season mainly due to a broken finger suffered blocking a shot on opening night. “Noel Acciari has a bit of an upper-body injury and it affected his minutes [Monday vs. Dallas]. He’s kind of day-to-day. I suspect that he would play tomorrow, but we’ll have a better idea on [Wednesday] morning.”

Both DeBrusk and Miller are expected to be fine to play against the Habs in their rematch from last weekend this time on Boston's home ice. Here are the line combos and D-pairings for the players that were on the ice for Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

Krejci-Spooner

Heinen-Nash-Backes

Schaller-Kuraly-Vatrano

 

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Miller

Postma-McQuaid

 

Rask

Khudobin

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Davis steps up his defense on Celtics rumors

Davis steps up his defense on Celtics rumors

BOSTON – You would have thought Anthony Davis was having visions of a double-team coming at him the way he consistently pivoted away from questions about the Celtics’ interest in him.

The 6-foot-10 forward has been the subject of trade rumors involving the Celtics for some time now; enough time for the four-time All-Star to spin away from such questions the way he does most wannabe defenders.

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When asked about whether he pays attention to the Celtics fans who want him donning a C's uniform soon, Davis responses with comments focused specifically on tonight’s game.

“We got a big one tonight,” he said. “It’s a great Celtics team. Kyrie [Irving], Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al [Horford], a lot of isolation basketball so we have to load up, be loud defensively and talk. It’ll be a good one for us.”

And Davis would be a good one for the Celtics, something that seemed a far-fetched fantasy at first which remains a longshot of happening, ever.

New Orleans (22-20) comes in having won three of its past four and finds itself just one game behind Oklahoma City for the fifth-best record in the Western Conference.

NBA executives have repeatedly indicated the only shot that Boston or any other team seriously have at landing Davis, 24, is for the Pelicans to fail to make the playoffs, which many expect would lead to wholesale changes that may include but not be limited to, finding a new home for Davis.

But such speculation is a moot point now, not with the Pelicans playing some of their best basketball of the season.

And a big part of that success has been Davis who is averaging a team-leading 26.7 points along with 10.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.1 blocked shots per game.

He and fellow All-Star DeMarcus Cousins form what many consider the most talented frontcourt tandem in the NBA.

“Davis and his ability to score the ball, his ability to roll to the rim, transition, all that stuff … they’re both very, very good,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens.

And as much as fans would love to see him in a Celtics uniform, tonight’s game will likely be the only time this season you’ll see Davis in Boston.

Even though Davis tactfully went about avoiding all questions linking him with the Celtics, that doesn’t diminish the fact that he has a tremendous amount of respect for the Celtics team and the organization as a whole.

“They’ve been playing very well; especially start of the season,” Davis said of the Celtics. “They kind of started to slip a little bit toward the end of the beginning. But they got it back, won seven in a row, still number one in the NBA right now. Everyone thought they would slip when Gordon [Hayward] went out [with a dislocated left ankle]; it’s kind of like they picked it up. When one of your star guys go out, guys have to step up and they’ve been doing that all year.”

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