Bruins

Celtics trampled by Bulls, 93-86

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Celtics trampled by Bulls, 93-86

CHICAGO A tale of two halves.

It has been the story of the Boston Celtics' season, and it was story of their second straight loss as the Chicago Bulls rallied from a double-digit Celtics lead at the half, for a 93-86 win.

Boston (30-24) has now lost two in a row, both in large part because of one poor half of play.

In Wednesday's 87-86 loss to San Antonio, a horrible first half proved to be too much for the Celtics to fully overcome as they seemingly ran out of steam in the game's closing minutes under the strong finish by the Spurs.

On Thursday, the C's had similar struggles in the second half as the Bulls ratcheted up the defensive intensity.

In a back-and-fourth tussle for most of the third quarter, Chicago seemed poised to pull away after a pair of mid-range jumpers by Luol Deng gave Chicago a five-point lead with more than eight minutes to play. He led all scorers with 26 points.

There was still plenty of time remaining, but there was no doubt the game's momentum had clearly shifted towards the home team.

After a Celtics shot clock violation, the Bulls seemed prepared to take their biggest lead of the night.

However, Boston's newest full-time starter, Avery Bradley, had a steal and subsequent lay-up that cut Chicago's lead to 78-75.

Bradley got the starting nod ahead of Ray Allen, who came off the bench for only the fifth time in his career (a span of 1,145 games) and the first time as a Celtic.

Rivers' decision to start Bradley instead of Allen seemed a good one in the first half which saw the C's spend the bulk of the time with a lead.

And as far as far minutes were concerned, both played 15 minutes in the first half with Bradley tallying four points and an assist while Allen led the Celtics' second unit with five points and two rebounds which also led the team's backups. Bradley, who was in foul trouble in the second half, had nine points in 27 minutes while Allen finished with 14 points in 31 minutes.

The game's focus could have easily been on the Bradley-Allen swap, but truth be told, this game in the first half was all about Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo dominating the action.

Pierce had another big scoring half, leading all players with 17 points on 7-for-13 shooting. And Rondo was well on his way to another double-double with eight points and seven assists which played a major role in Boston's 49-38 halftime lead. He finished with a team-high 22 points while Rondo had 10 points and 12 assists.

Of course the C's caught a break of sorts with reigning league MVP Derrick Rose remaining out with a groin injury that has sidelined him the last 12 games.

His replacement, C.J. Watson, had a decent first half with nine points. Watson finished with 15 points and eight assists.

But if there was as area that spoke to why Boston was in control, it was rebounding.

Despite Boston being the worst rebounding team in the NBA, they literally met the Bulls rebound-for-rebound, grabbing the same number of boards (20) as Chicago did in the first half.

In addition, the Celtics were able to capitalize on Chicago's mistakes, converting the Bulls' eight turnovers into 15 points all the while limiting their miscues to four turnovers which generated just six points for the Bulls.

Marchand, Krug and Backes all practice, won't play vs. Devils

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Marchand, Krug and Backes all practice, won't play vs. Devils

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins are getting closer to a healthier lineup, but it won’t be in time for the Thanksgiving Eve road tilt against the upstart New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center.

Brad Marchand (upper body), Torey Krug (upper body) and David Backes (colon surgery) all skated in red no-contact jerseys at practice Tuesday at Warrior Ice Arena, so none of those three banged-up B’s will be making the trip to Jersey. Anders Bjork (upper body) didn’t practice and is obviously out vs. the Devils as well, but Ryan Spooner might be a possibility after making it through his first full practice since tearing his groin almost six weeks ago.

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If he can make it through Wednesday's morning skate without any problems, Spooner will likely be a game-time decision against the Devils after missing the past 14 games.  

The Bruins have continued to indicate that Marchand is in the concussion protocol, though it appears the Bruins agitator is dealing with both upper body and lower body issues. Marchand was encouraged by the progress he’s making while returning to practice, so perhaps the B’s could get back one of their leading scorers sooner rather than later.

“I feel pretty good. It’s good to be back with the guys and feel like you’re a part of the team,” said Marchand, who has missed five of the past seven games after returning for the home-and-home against the Maple Leafs. “It’s frustrating whenever you miss games and you miss time away from the team, but they had a great road trip and they’re playing well. It would be nice to be back in the lineup consistently and be back with the team...it’ll come.”

Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings vs. the Devils based on practice Tuesday:

Heinen-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Cehlarik

Vatrano-Spooner-Nash/Szwarz

Schaller-Kuraly-Acciari

Beleskey-Marchand-Backes

 
Chara-McAvoy

O’Gara/Postma-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Miller

 
Rask

Khudobin
 

Blakely's takeaways: Stevens downplays Celtics' streak

Blakely's takeaways: Stevens downplays Celtics' streak

Brad Stevens likes the fact that the Celtics have shown an unusually strong resolve this season by consistently finding ways to win on nights when they don’t play their best.
 
It’s to the point now where fans, as well as the players, feel no deficit is too steep to overcome.

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That said, there’s a level of expectations on this team now that you would think would bring about a heightened level of pressure, right?
 
They’ve won 16 in a row, the fourth-longest winning streak in franchise history.
 
Pressure?
 
Not according to Stevens.
 
“Coaching basketball is not pressure,” Stevens told reporters after Monday night’s win. “Playing basketball is not real pressure. Sometimes we overdo this stuff. We’re just trying to prepare well for the next game. That’s all we’ve done, that’s all we’ll continue to do. The streak doesn’t mean anything to me; maybe it does to the guys in the room. But it’s about finding ways to get better and finding ways to get the job done.”
 
Here are five other takeaways from the 110-102 overtime win at Dallas that extended Boston’s winning streak to 16:


 
MARCUS SMART
There may not be a player on this team – maybe in the NBA – that’s more difficult to get a read on, than Marcus Smart. He has been a historically bad shooter throughout his career in Boston. And yet when you look at their 16-game winning streak, he’s one of the main reasons for it. He plays with an edge; he’s gritty and defends at a level that few can match. He makes big plays in big moments. But he's having his worst season ever shooting the ball yet his impact when he’s on the floor has never been greater. So, what do you do if you’re Stevens? You keep playing him. Because as much as his poor shooting hurts the team’s overall scoring, he makes so many clutch plays whether it’s facilitating, defending or – wait for it – making shots. He adds tremendous value to winning, even if his shooting numbers might suggest otherwise.


 
KYRIE FOR MVP?
When you’re getting “M-V-P! M-V-P!” chants on the road, you know you’re ballin’ hard. Kyrie Irving wowed the Dallas crowd with 47 points, 10 of which came in overtime as Boston rallied after facing a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter. If the numbers continue to climb along with the win total, Irving will continue to cement himself as a top-five MVP candidate. 


 
REBOUNDING
One of the few constants in Boston’s string of success has been their rebounding. Against the Mavericks, the Celtics once again won the battle on the boards, 53-45. And it hasn’t been one or two players, either. Against Dallas, the Celtics had five players grab at least four rebounds with no one securing more than nine. That kind of rebounding balance makes Boston an extremely difficult team to out-work on the glass.
 

AL HORFORD
The scoring punch we’ve come to expect lately from Horford just wasn’t there against Dallas. Instead, he seemed more consumed with getting others (mainly Irving) involved offensively. He missed four of his five shots from the field and scored just three points. But he almost had a double-double in rebounds (eight) and assists (seven) along with blocking a couple of shots. And as always, his plus/minus was among the best on the team with the Celtics being +7 when he was on the floor.
 

FOURTH-QUARTER TATUM
While Irving was delivering one big shot after another down the stretch, one of his running partners in late-game situations this season has been Jayson Tatum. He ranks among the league’s best shooters in the fourth quarter and Monday’s victory only solidified his status. Against the Mavericks, Tatum had six points and was a perfect 3-for-3 from the field. According to NBA.com/stats, Tatum is shooting 64.1 percent in the fourth quarter, which ranks eighth in the NBA among players who take at least two field goal attempts per game in the fourth. Right ahead of him is teammate Marcus Morris (65 percent).