Bruins

Celtics-Warriors review: What we saw...

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Celtics-Warriors review: What we saw...

OAKLAND, Calif. For most of Wednesday's game, the Boston Celtics' usually stingy defense was nowhere to be found as Golden State seemingly got whatever it wanted to offensively.

But down the stretch, when the game mattered most, the C's got the necessary stops and much-needed shots to fall as they escaped with a 105-103 win.

It was a 21-foot jumper by Kevin Garnett that provided the game-winning margin of points.

But before that play came about, it was a series of key stops that ultimately led the C's to a hard-earned victory.

"We didn't play a lick of defense tonight," said Boston's Paul Pierce. "But we played defense when it mattered. So that was the most important thing."

Clutch plays by Garnett down the stretch and some solid team defense were among the keys to the Celtics (23-19) moving four games above-.500 for just the second time this season.

Here's a review of the keys highlighted prior to the game, and how they actually played out during the game.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Without Monta Ellis, who will pick up the 21.9 points and 19 shot attempts he had, per game? Stephen Curry is a logical choice, but with his never-ending ankle issues, Warriors coach Mark Jackson doesn't have a true feel for how much he can get on a nightly basis from Curry. Prior to the game, Warriors GM Larry Riley said Curry, who did not play on Wednesday, is out indefinitely. If Curry doesn't get the bulk of those shots, keep an eye on rookie Klay Thompson whose development was among the reasons the Warriors were willing to trade Ellis. He's averaging 8.2 points per game this season, but has reached double figures in Golden State's last five games -- his longest double figure scoring stretch this season.

WHAT WE SAW: Thompson proved why the Warriors are so high on his play with a career-best 26 points. He showed the kind of mid-range game and long-range shooting touch that seemed to have caught the Celtics off-guard.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Brandon Bass vs. David Lee: Bass' mid-range game has been strong all year, but lately he's starting to get it done defensively as well. Lee will be a good test for him. The two have comparable size and can be physical. But you have to like Bass' chances when he steps away from the basket and shoots. Not only is it a situation that plays to his strengths, but it also keeps Lee further away from the basket which for the C's, is a good thing.

WHAT WE SAW: Although Bass is a couple inches shorter than Lee, he certainly held his own on Wednesday. Both players had 22 points, with Bass having the slight edge in rebounds with nine compared to eight for Lee. Rebounding was indeed something that was on Bass' mind coming into the game.

"I go out with more of a mindset of rebounding," Bass said prior to the game.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Avery Bradley's improved play offensively has been one of the reasons the Celtics have been a better team since returning from the all-star break. He's showing that, in addition to being a strong defender, he can also make teams pay by leaving him alone on the perimeter or losing track of him cutting to the basket. With Bass now a starter, Boston will need someone to step up and become more of a scorer off the bench. Bradley appears to be up for the challenge.

"Whatever they need me to do, that's what I want to do," Bradley said. "Of course defense is always going to be my priority. But there times when my teammates will need me to score, too. I'm just trying to stay ready, be ready for whatever Doc and the coaching staff needs me to do."

WHAT WE SAW: Bradley did not play major minutes. But as he has done more and more of lately, the Celtics got great value out of his time on the floor. The 6-foot-2 guard played more than 13 minutes and scored four points on 2-for-3 shooting, in addition to dishing out three assists. Maybe just as telling was the C's were plus-nine with him on the floor. Only one other Celtic player (Keyon Dooling, who was plus-11) had a better plusminus ratio.

STAT TO TRACK: This will be one of the few nights where the Celtics, the worst rebounding team in the NBA, might actually win the battle on the boards. As bad as Boston is, the Warriors aren't that much better. In fact, they rank 26th in rebounding compared to the dead-last Celtics, at No. 30. Forget about Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass and Paul Pierce when it comes to the team's rebounding numbers. Boston has to get more from guys like Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Avery Bradley.

"It has to be more of a team effort on the boards," Bradley admitted. "I know myself, all the guards really, have to do a better job of that, than what we're doing now."

WHAT WE SAW: Boston did more than just hold its own on the boards they won the boards. It was only by four rebounds, but hey, considering most games they're out-rebounded by double figures, a four-rebound edge was huge. The strong job on the boards came on the same day the C's found out that Chris Wilcox would be out for the season due to a heart condition that will require surgery. Celtics officials said he would have surgery in Cleveland March 29. In addition to Wilcox, the C's are awaiting word on whether Jermaine O'Neal (wrist) will have season-ending surgery. But C's head coach Doc Rivers has already said the team plans to continue on without O'Neal, adding that his return would be a "bonus."

"With those guys, it still would have been tough (rebounding the ball)," said Bass. "Without them, it's going to be tougher. But that just means guys off the bench have to step up and be ready."

Talking Points: DeBrusk provides energy in win

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Talking Points: DeBrusk provides energy in win

GOLD STAR: Jake DeBrusk gave the Bruins all kinds of energy out of the starting gate, and made a couple of plays that allowed his team to hold a lead despite getting outplayed in the opening 20 minutes. DeBrusk went hard to the net splitting a couple of San Jose defenders on the first goal, and fired a shot on net that created a rebound for Peter Cehlarik to cash in on. Then DeBrusk scored a little bit later on a rush where he beat Brent Burns in a foot race to a loose puck, then whistled a wrist shot past Aaron Dell for his fourth goal of the season. DeBrusk finished with a goal and two points along with a plus-2 and a team-high four shots on net while falling just short of 16 minutes of ice time in the victory. It was a strong effort from DeBrusk shortly after being a healthy scratch, and showed what he’s capable of when he gets his skating legs going.

BLACK EYE: Brent Burns was a complete mess for the Sharks. He was burnt by Jake DeBrusk in each of the first two Bruins goals in the first period with the B’s rookie going right at him with the attack. He also didn’t make it to the net with 12 of the 16 shots that he attempted and Burns finished with seven giveaways as well. It’s been a rough follow-up season for Burns after last year’s Norris Trophy season where he’s tried to do too much for the Sharks, and his game has suffered as a result. That seemed to be the case for Burns against the Bruins as well where his mistakes played a big role in the Sharks dropping the game.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins won the game when they managed to survive an opening 20 minutes where they were outshot 17-5, and even better they had a 2-1 lead based on some offensive fireworks from Jake DeBrusk. They were also aided by a couple of video reviews where the Bruins took a San Jose goal off the board when it was ruled that a crashing Joonas Donskoi punched a puck into the net with his glove. The Peter Cehlarik goal was also upheld at the other end after a challenge from the San Jose bench. It looked like DeBrusk was tripped before he partially crashed into Aaron Dell that set up the Cehlarik goal, and that’s clearly how the referees saw it after reviewing the play.

HONORABLE MENTION: It’s got to be Anton Khudobin, who stopped 36-of-37 shots and improved to 5-0-2 on the season with another strong win aided by a stalwart defensive effort in front of him. Khudobin now has 12 of the 20 points that the Bruins have amassed on the season, and he absolutely rewarded the B’s for opting to go with the Bruins backup for a second game in a row as they ride the hot goaltender. Khudobin was helped by a number of Bruins blocked shots in the third period when the game was still very tight, but it was also about Khudobin coming up with 16 saves in the first period when the Bruins were getting outplayed by the Sharks.

BY THE NUMBERS: 6 – the number of Bruins rookies that have scored their first NHL goals this season, including Peter Cehlarik finally getting his first NHL score Saturday night in his 14th career game.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We need them. They’re in the lineup and they’re playing significant minutes. We need them to produce for us. Tonight we needed some offense early, and they provided it for us.” – Bruce Cassidy, on the role of the rookies in the win where it was all first-year players Peter Cehlarik, Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen doing the scoring vs. San Jose. 

Khudobin stops 36 shots to help Bruins beat Sharks, 3-1

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Khudobin stops 36 shots to help Bruins beat Sharks, 3-1

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Anton Khudobin stopped 36 shots to lead the Boston Bruins to a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.

Peter Cehlarik, Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen scored to help the Bruins get their second straight win after a four-game skid (0-3-1). Boston had totaled nine goals in its previous five games, scoring more than two for just the second time in nine November games.

Khudobin remained unbeaten in regulation (5-0-2) and improved to 4-1 with a 0.99 goals-against average in five games against the Sharks.

Timo Meier scored and Aaron Dell finished with 18 saves for the Sharks, one of the lowest scoring teams in the league. San Jose has been held to two of fewer goals in five of their seven games this month.

Meier gave the Sharks, losers of two straight following wins in six of seven, a short-lived 1-0 lead after tapping in a rebound 4:50 into the game. Daniel O'Regan, making his season debut, won the puck behind the net and skated around to take the shot that bounced to Meier. It was O'Regan's first career assist and second career point.

Cehlarik, in his 14th game, scored his first career goal about 1 1/2 minutes later to tie it for the Bruins.

Boston took the lead on DeBrusk's goal with 9:14 left in the first. Charlie McAvoy cleared a puck in his zone that DeBrusk chased down and easily beat Dell 1-on-1.

Heinen made it 3-1 with 5:51 left in the third. Kevan Miller skated down the ice, drawing all the attention on the right side. He passed across the crease, from where Heinen tapped it in.

The Sharks had a goal negated for the second straight game, this one two minutes in.

NOTES: Sharks F Danny O'Regan was recalled before the game. He's the leading scorer for the Barracuda of the AHL. ... The Sharks have had three consecutive goals reversed after challenges dating to Thursday's game against the Florida Panthers. ... Sharks F Joel Ward has recorded points in six of his last eight games. ... DeBrusk, who assisted on Cehlarik's goal, recorded his first multi-point game since Oct. 14, a span of 14 games.

UP NEXT

Bruins: At the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night.

Sharks: Host the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night.