Bruins

Celtics-Raptors review: What we saw

659616.jpg

Celtics-Raptors review: What we saw

BOSTON The game clock could not count down soon enough in Boston's 100-64 win over the Toronto Raptors. This was one of the few times this season we've seen the Celtics take control of a game from the outset and show no signs of letting up, no cracks to speak of. In games like this, there are a number of players whose game sticks out.

Among the standout performers were Avery Bradley and E'Twaun Moore, who are filling the void created by Rajon Rondo's right wrist injury that has now sidelined him for eight straight games.

Late-game execution is one of those things both young guards need to improve upon.

But to their credit -- and the rest of the Celtics -- there was no need to be precise in executing in the game's final moments.

The execution of the Toronto Raptors had long been completed before the fourth quarter rolled around.

It wouldn't be worth it go into all that went the C's way on Wednesday night.

But there is value in examining the keys identified prior to the game, and seeing how those played out.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Say what you want about Jermaine O'Neal, but there's no disputing the presence he provides defensively when he's healthy. When facing teams with smaller lineups, the C's need to continue to find ways to get him involved because far too often, teams forget about him at the offensive end of the floor. And the C's and O'Neal made the Cavaliers pay for that, as he tallied 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting which included three dunks.

WHAT WE SAW: Foul trouble and the fact that the game was over by halftime, both resulted in O'Neal playing limited minutes. He still had six points on 3-for-4 shooting, along with three rebounds and a blocked shot. Getting a blowout win and needing O'Neal for just under 14 minutes is the kind of game that the C's would love to have all the time.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett vs. James Johnson: One of Garnett's greatest strengths -- being unselfish -- could be a huge weakness in this matchup. Johnson can not guard Garnett. It's that simple. And the sooner Garnett gets it into his head that he can get pretty much whatever he wants over Johnson, the better off the C's will be.
WHAT WE SAW: Because of the lopsided nature of things, this battle never really materialized. James Johnson had seven points, but he missed eight of his 11 shots before fouling out in the fourth quarter. As for Garnett, had played just under 17 minutes and finished with seven points, five rebounds and four assists.

PLAYER TO WATCH: DeMar DeRozan is playing the small forward position, but he's really more of a shooting guard with size. With Andrea Bargnani (strained left calf) out, DeRozan has become their primary scorer which means Paul Pierce's best contributions today may not necessarily be in his scoring but how he limits DeRozan's point production.

WHAT WE SAW: Even though the absence of Andrea Bargnani means more shot attempts for DeRozan, he has to become a more efficient scorer for his points to have true value. He led the Raptors in shot attempts (12), but he misfired on nine of his attempts.

STAT TO TRACK: The magic number tonight for the Boston Celtics has to be 90. When the Raptors are held below to 90 points or less scored this season, they are 0-11.

WHAT WE SAW: Boston's defense continues to crush weak teams like the Raptors. With a lead that peaked at 40, Boston's defense never allowed Toronto to get into any kind of flow or rhythm. With injuries to key players and a roster that's not overly impressive even when at full strength, Toronto had no chance at winning let alone making the game competitive.

Kenny Agostino looking forward to 'the right opportunity' with the Bruins

cp-bruins-agostino-092217.jpg

Kenny Agostino looking forward to 'the right opportunity' with the Bruins

BRIGHTON, Mass – It’s been a few different stints with a few different NHL teams for 25-year-old Kenny Agostino, so he knows the drill at this point in his pro hockey career. The Bruins signed Agostino as a free agent on July 1 after he led the AHL in scoring last season, and they gave him a one-way contract as a show of proof that he’d get his chances at the NHL level.

It didn’t happen immediately out of camp as Agostino was felled by a concussion for part of the preseason, but he’ll get his chance now with injuries and ineffectiveness creating an opening for him on the Black and Gold. Agostino should get a look as the left winger on the third line after lighting it up in Providence with two goals and seven points in his first three games with the P-Bruins, and he’s looking forward to seizing another chance at the NHL level after stints with the Flames and Blues. 

MORE BRUINS:

“I’ve been doing this a few years and I like to think I’ve developed my game outside of my offensive ability,” said the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Agostino, who had 24 goals and 83 points for the Chicago Wolves last season. “That’s kind of been my goal to become more of a complete player. I’m excited and looking forward to another opportunity and just want to make the most of it. I’m not looking past tonight.

“I was fortunate as a college guy to get my first pro experience at the NHL level in Calgary, but then you understand how difficult it is to establish yourself. You need a lot of different things. You need the right opportunity and you need to do well with it, so it makes you appreciate how great of an opportunity it is anytime you get to play in this league.”

Certainly, the Bruins are anxious to get a look at Agostino, and probably Peter Cehlarik at some point soon, and the lack of production from some of the NHL incumbents have fast-forwarded that process a little bit. Agostino will replace Ryan Spooner along the half-wall on the first power play unit, and perhaps he can add the kind of scoring touch in the bottom-6 that Matt Beleskey and Frank Vatrano haven’t been able to thus far.

“We know Kenny is going to start in Spooner’s power play spot, he’s done it before and he’s had some success at the lower levels when given that opportunity. Obviously he’ll play left behind [Brad] Marchand and [Jake] DeBrusk, probably on the third line spot,” said Cassidy. “He’s played with [Riley] Nash yesterday [at practice] so there’s a good chance he’ll play with him today.”

The Bruins certainly need a spark after limping out to a 2-3-0 start to the season in the first five games, so perhaps a hungry Agostino can do that while being given a legit chance to show what he can do by the Black and Gold. 

Tuukka Rask out indefinitely for Bruins with a concussion

Tuukka Rask out indefinitely for Bruins with a concussion

BRIGHTON, Mass – Tuukka Rask has been diagnosed with a concussion, and will be out indefinitely for the Bruins after getting trucked in Wednesday’s Bruins practice at Warrior Ice Arena.

The good news is that the 30-year-old Rask hasn’t previously dealt with concussion issues in his NHL career, but the bad news that it looked like a fairly serious concussion after Anders Bjork crashed into him during line rush drills at Bruins practice. It’s still unclear if Bjork caught an edge and crashed into Rask during drills, or if there was contact with another player that thrust the B’s rookie, who needed stitches on his chin as well, into the unsuspecting Bruins goalie for the rare violent collision during an off-day hockey practice. 

MORE BRUINS:

“It’s not really easy. Last year I had a couple of collisions and it doesn’t feel good,” said Anton Khudobin. “Sometimes you get run over in a game and you kind of expect that it’s coming, but in the practices maybe you’re not expecting it. I don’t know. It’s not fun.” 

Rask had to be helped off the ice by his teammates and was spaghetti-legged and unsteady on his feet as he made his way off the way, so it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect him to miss 7-10 days at a minimum based on NHL concussion protocol. 

Clearly it’s a blow to the Bruins to lose their No. 1 goaltender while struggling to stabilize their game weeks into the regular season, and for Rask it continues a tough season where he’s off to a 1-3-0 start with a 3.30 goals against average and .882 save percentage behind a leaky defense. 

So Anton Khudobin will step in on Thursday night for Rask coming off a 29-save win over the Arizona Coyotes last weekend, and P-Bruins netminder Zane McIntyre will serve as Khudobin’s backup goalie on an emergency basis.

“You don’t want to see that, but at the same time we’ve got to keep moving forward and hopefully he’s going to get better soon,” said Khudobin. “I feel good. Camp was good and everything is fine, and I’ve started better than last year. My role is just day-to-day. Today is a game day and hopefully, you get a good result, and then tomorrow is another new day.”

It remains to be seen how quickly or slowly that Rask recovers from this concussion, but there is concern as more than a few NHL goalies have suffered from recurring issues once they start going down the path with concussion issues. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE