Patriots

Celtics-Nets review: Where's the pride?

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Celtics-Nets review: Where's the pride?

BOSTON Once upon not that long ago, the TD Garden really was like a jungle; a place where team after team would be devoured upon entry.

These days?

Not even close.

The Brooklyn Nets became the latest team to make themselves at home in the C's digs, as they delivered a 95-83 loss to the Celtics Wednesday night.

Rajon Rondo's ejection after fighting with Kris Humphries may be what most will take away from Wednesday's game.

But for the C's, this loss serves as yet another reminder that whatever home court advantage they thought they had, does not exist.

"We have to have more pride playing at home," said Boston's Kevin Garnett. "Since I been here, we take a lot of pride in ... putting these jerseys on. Sometimes I question if we really understand what it means."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers had similar thoughts on his team's play.

"You know, Kevin, Paul (Pierce) and Rondo and a couple other guys - it's not everyone - it's almost like they think because they put the jersey on that they are something. You've got to earn it here."

The C's certainly didn't play well enough to warrant a win on Wednesday. Here are some other key factors identified prior to the game, and how they ultimately played out in the Celtics' loss.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Brooklyn has the ability to post-up teams at just about every position within their starting five, the kind of luxury that makes keeping their points in the paint low. The Nets average 43.4 points in the paint which ranks 10th among NBA teams. That would be a pretty average night against a Celtics defense that ranks 28th in allowed points in the paint, at 43.6.

WHAT WE SAW: Although Boston only gave up 38 points in the paint, this was a game in which Brooklyn's interior play was overwhelming at times for the Celtics who gave up 23 second-chance points while generating just 11 of their own.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett vs. Brook Lopez: The Big Ticket will have his hands full against Lopez who has been arguably the best center in the East this season. Lopez is averaging 19.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game.

WHAT WE SAW: Garnett had the better of Lopez most of the night, both in terms of statistics and impact on the game. Garnett had 16 points and 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double this season. while Lopez had nine points and 10 rebounds in part because of early foul trouble.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Brandon Bass has emerged as a solid rebounding presence for the Celtics, something he'll need to continue doing against a Brooklyn team that's among the NBA's best rebounding squads. Bass is averaging 5.7 rebounds per game this season, but has snatched eight per game during the C's last three games.

WHAT WE SAW: Bass had a nice game shooting the ball (16 points, 7-for-12 shooting), but they needed so much more from him in terms of rebounding. He grabbed just three rebounds which was among the factors leading to the C's being minus-10 on the boards.

STAT TO TRACK: Boston's fourth quarter offense will be put to the test against a Brooklyn team that has made life difficult for most teams during the game's most critical moments. The Nets are giving up 21.3 points per game in the fourth quarter, the NBA's third-lowest total in the fourth. Meanwhile, the Celtics' fourth-quarter offense is churning out 25.3 points in the fourth, No. 5 in the NBA.

WHAT WE SAW: Fourth quarter scoring didn't really mean much on Wednesday, not with the Nets going into the quarter with a 15-point cushion. Brooklyn played the C's to a near-standstill most of the quarter as the Celtics could only trim Brooklyn's lead by three points (28-25).

Inconsistent Bruins hope to settle in at home

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Inconsistent Bruins hope to settle in at home

BRIGHTON -- The Bruins' actual 2-3-0 won-loss record isn’t particularly terrible, especially when you consider they were without Patrice Bergeron and David Backes.

But they've been wildly inconsistent within those first five games, playing a couple of very good games against the Predators and Coyotes while suffering three ugly, non-competitive losses to Colorado and Vegas. The Bruins are 20th in goals scored (2.8 goals per game) and 22nd in goals allowed (3.6), and their special teams have been average at best in a soft part of the schedule that should have allowed them to get off to a good start.

The Bruins have looked sloppy much of the time with chaotic breakouts, far too many breakdowns in defensive coverage, and goaltending has been average at best.

As a result they're scuffling in the Atlantic Division as the Lightning and Maple Leafs have sprinted out to strong starts. Clearly it’s still early -- nearly the entire season is in front of them -- but there’s also no illusion about the need for a quick turnaround in what’s going to be a competitive division.

That's why the next four games, all at TD Garden, are so important.

“We’ve been inconsistent in our game. We’ve been good and we’ve been not good, so hopefully being home will allow us to get back into form,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “We knew going in with a youth movement that we’d had some ups and downs. We’ve had both. We’ve had some really strong games and we’ve had some other games where there’s a learning curve.

“As good as [our] prospects are, it falls on the core group to be solid and consistent every night. Then you lose a bit of your core group [to injuries] and you need your support players that aren’t your core group -- but aren’t kids, either -- to contribute. So we’re battling through all of that, and it’s up to us to put in a game plan that gets us through it. We haven’t achieved the level we’d like. We aren’t hiding behind that. We’d like to be better than we are right now, and we’re facing it head on every day.”

Clearly there are plenty of players in the “support player” category referenced by Cassidy who haven’t performed to date, and that also explains some of the Bruins consistency issues. Matt Beleskey, Ryan Spooner, Frank Vatrano and Riley Nash have a combined two assists and a combined minus-5 rating through those first five games, and are among the players that need to step up and perform if the Bruins are going to start achieving the consistency that Cassidy is actively seeking right now.