Bruins

Heat get rings, top Celtics in season opener

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Heat get rings, top Celtics in season opener

From Comcast SportsNetMIAMI (AP) -- LeBron James got cramps, Ray Allen was snubbed and Dwyane Wade was steaming.None of that spoiled the Miami Heat mood on ring night.Wade scored 29 points, James finished 26 points and 10 rebounds while missing much of the second half because of cramps in both legs, and the reigning NBA champion Heat beat the Boston Celtics 120-107 on Tuesday night in the season opener for both teams.There were actual fireworks before the game to close the ceremony where the Heat got their championship rings and raised their title banner. There also were plenty of figurative fireworks late, first with Boston almost digging out of a 19-point hole and, after the outcome was decided, Rajon Rondo flagrantly fouling Wade by wrapping his arms around his neck on a drive.In the end, though, the first Celtics-Heat matchup of this season was like the final one of last season -- with Miami winning."It was good to cap this night off with a win," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "It was an emotional time for all of us in our organization."Even for the newcomers, like Allen. He scored 19 points -- needing only seven field goal attempts -- in his first game with Miami since leaving Boston over the summer. Chris Bosh had 19 points and 10 rebounds for Miami.Allen got chants from the Heat crowd, which is nothing new. Except this time, they were positive."Never thought I'd hear that here," Allen said.Paul Pierce scored 23 points, Rondo finished with 20 points and 13 assists, and Leandro Barbosa scored 16 for Boston. The Celtics, who lost to the Heat in last season's Eastern Conference finals, were not on the court for the ring ceremony.They almost wrecked the festive mood with a late comeback.An 11-2 run late in the fourth quarter got Boston within 111-107 on Courtney Lee's layup with 2:09 left. That was the last Celtics' hurrah -- Bosh scored the game's next seven points, sealing it for Miami."I thought they were the aggressor the whole game," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "They got on the floor where they wanted to get on the floor. They took us out of stuff that they wanted to."Rashard Lewis scored 10 points for Miami, which held on even while James, last season's MVP of both the regular season and NBA Finals, was in the locker room for the second time because of the cramps, first in his right leg and then his left."It's not an all-the-time thing," James said. "I'm not too worried about it."The Heat got their championship rings from owner Micky Arison before the game, then watched the banner get hoisted to the rafters. More emotion came late, when Wade drove past Rondo -- and the Celtics guard grabbed Wade around the neck. Wade appeared as though he was ready to throw the ball at Rondo in retaliation, and stopped himself."I thought he hooked me," Rondo said.Wade had a different opinion."It was a punk play by him," Wade said. "The league will take care of it. He clotheslined me, with two hands."So Rondo raised eyebrows by putting hands on Wade. Kevin Garnett made news by not offering his hand to Allen.As Allen entered the game for the first time, he trotted toward the Boston bench, exchanging a handshake, embrace and a few words with Rivers, who hasn't hidden his displeasure about his former shooting guard's decision to sign with Miami and didn't sound certain before the game how he would react when he saw Allen in Miami colors. Allen then briskly shook hands with a few assistant coaches.But when Allen tried to engage Garnett, the mutual pleasantries ended. Allen tapped Garnett on the shoulder as he sat on the Boston bench; Garnett didn't even flinch, staring straight ahead, refusing to acknowledge the gesture in any way."I was just trying to focus as much as I could. I am such an intense person," Garnett said. "It was a blank. Obviously he's on the other side. It's time to play the game, man."Allen didn't seem flustered. His first shot in a Miami uniform was -- what else? -- a corner 3-pointer, which swished."He was by himself in the corner," Rivers said. "You'd think we'd know better."Miami controlled much of the first half, taking a 62-54 lead after James went by Pierce and Garnett for a two-handed dunk and yell for the crowd.The first Heat angst of the season came in the third quarter, when James walked slowly to the bench after a timeout with 4:40 remaining, favoring his right leg and then headed out the tunnel toward the locker room.When he left, the Miami lead was 79-70.When he returned to open the fourth quarter, the lead was 93-76. The Heat scored the final eight points of the third, with Bosh, Allen, Mario Chalmers and Lewis all scoring in the final 2:17 to give the Heat their biggest lead of the game.James -- who was dealing with a cramping issue, like he experienced at times in last season's NBA Finals -- opened the fourth quarter with a jumper to extend the run to 10-0, and Miami seemed well on its way. But he returned to the locker room a short time later, the cramps having flared up again."Once you start cramping, there's nothing you can do about it," James said.Jeff Green, who had season-ending surgery for an aortic aneurysm last January, played in a game that counts for the first time since May 11, 2011 -- also in Miami, when the Heat ousted the Celtics from that season's playoffs. Green finished with three points in 23 minutes.NOTES:Wade passed the 15,000-point mark for his career early in the second quarter, becoming the 123rd player in NBA history to reach that mark, according to STATS LLC. ... Rondo had at least 10 assists for the 25th straight regular-season game. ... The Celtics allowed 62 points in the first half; they gave up 62 or more only seven times in 379 regular-season and playoff games over the past four seasons. ... Miami players wore sneakers with gold somewhere in the color scheme; James' were primarily gold -- in honor of the ring -- and trimmed in white and red.

Bruins sending clear message they're going for it with Nash deal

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Bruins sending clear message they're going for it with Nash deal

TORONTO – The clear message signaled from the Bruins to the rest of the NHL this weekend is that they’re going for it. 

The Bruins landed their big fish at the trade deadline on Sunday morning by acquiring power forward Rick Nash from the New York Rangers in exchange for a 2018 first round pick, Ryan Spooner, Matt Beleskey, college D-man prospect Ryan Lindgren and a 2019 seventh round pick. Nash, the 2002 first overall pick that’s scored over 400 goals and 799 points in his 14-year NHL career, will be in Buffalo and available to suit up immediately for the Black and Gold in tonight’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. 

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While on paper it might seem like the Bruins gave up a lot in the deal, the truth is the Bruins landed the top available winger on the market and had to move all of those pieces in order to make the salary cap side of things work. 

Sure Nash hasn’t been a great player in the last couple of years with his best season coming in 2014-15 when he scored 42 goals for the Rangers, but he’s just 33 years old and fully capable of re-energizing his game in a contract year for a Bruins team with a legit chance at a Stanley Cup. In his last three playoff runs with the Blueshirts, Nash has 10 goals and 23 points along with a plus-9 in 39 games for New York and has been an effective offensive player when the bell goes off. 

Even more importantly for the Bruins, Nash is the exact kind of power forward-type at 6-foot-4, 213-pounds that has enjoyed excellent success with David Krejci in the past and really gives that Bruins second line a formidable look for a postseason run. He’ll fit right in replacing the speedy, skilled Spooner alongside Krejci and Jake DeBrusk, and give them the exact kind of rental winger they’d been looking for on the trade market. 

With only David Backes as a big, heavy physical winger among a bunch of smaller, younger and skilled wings headed into the trade deadline, the Bruins needed to get bigger and stronger with the physical battles ahead in the stretch run and postseason. 

To his credit Spooner had turned his game around this season and showed that he wanted to stick with the Bruins, and actually had lesser, but comparable, numbers to Nash with nine goals and 25 points this season in Boston. Spooner will get a chance to be part of the fast, young, skilled Rangers group as an RFA after this season, and could very well flourish given a fresh start in a different organization after doing many of the right things for his NHL career this season. With the youth movement in full swing in Boston, however, there was no real room for Spooner on the Bruins roster moving forward beyond this season’s expected playoff run. 

There was also no room for Spooner as anything more than an extra part if he did remain on the Bruins after the Nash deal with his spot gone on the second line, and no appetite from the B’s to break up third or fourth lines that have been very good for them this season. If the Bruins were going to remove a piece from their NHL roster without really disrupting all the good things that they’ve done this season, Spooner might just have been the best candidate in a trade. 

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Beleskey was buried in the AHL after disappointing the last couple of seasons, and the Bruins get salary cap relief by including him in the deal as a contract that needed to be moved in order for the Bruins to absorb Nash’s $7 plus million cap hit. 

The real cost here, obviously, is the first round pick and a solid Bruins prospect in Lindgren, a sophomore defenseman at the University of Minnesota and a 2016 second round pick. But that’s the going rate to land the premier winger available on the trade market even if Nash hasn’t cracked 40 points with the Rangers in each of the last two seasons. 

Lindgren was a staple on the Team USA World Junior team in each of the last two seasons and is well-thought of in scouting circles for his leadership and toughness, but he’s also a stay-at-home, left shot defenseman in an organization that is well-stocked in that area with Jakub Zboril, Urho Vaakanainen and a number of other players even after trading away Lindgren and Robbie O’Gara. 

The message from the Bruins is clear here: The Black and Gold are going for it this season and they didn’t have to give up any of their untouchable pieces in order to do just that. That’s something Bruins fans should be ecstatic about once the shock of a big time rental move engineered by Don Sweeney is digested and broken down beyond this weekend.

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UPDATE: Bruins acquire Rick Nash from Rangers

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UPDATE: Bruins acquire Rick Nash from Rangers

UPDATED: The Bruins and New York Rangers completed the trade for Rick Nash this morning:

More to come . . . 

TORONTO – It sounds like the Boston Bruins are on the verge of a fairly substantial trade if they can iron out some of the details both big and small.

According to multiple reports and sources, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney is closing in on a trade for New York Rangers winger Rick Nash ahead of Monday afternoon’s trade deadline. The 33-year-old Nash has 18 goals and 28 points in 60 games this season for the Blueshirts, and really has been in decline over the last couple of years in New York since scoring 42 goals and 69 points back in the 2014-15 season.

Still, Nash has quite the resume as the first overall pick in the 2002 NHL Draft and a guy that’s scored over 400 goals and nearly 800 points in his 14-year NHL career while starring for the Columbus Blue Jackets and Rangers during that time. The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder would bring the size, heaviness and experience factor that the Bruins have been looking to add to their wing ahead of the stretch run and playoffs, and certainly could be energized down the stretch while potentially playing a second line role with a center like David Krejci.

Don Sweeney indicated prior to the reports surfacing that the Bruins could be more invested into the rental market this season, given their strong campaign, than they originally thought they’d be when the season started.

“We’d like to think that the group can continue on along the path that they’re on, but if you can add to it and help it…the rental market depends on what you’re going to give up, and what that impact of that player is necessarily going to be and how they’re going to fit into the group,” said Sweeney. “The chemistry piece is an important piece in and around the trade deadline, so that’s something we have to be cognizant of.”

There are, however, a couple of issues for the Bruins and Rangers to work out before it’s a done deal. One is the massive cap hit for Nash that would still be well over $3 million even if the Rangers agree to eat half of his remaining contract, and that would leave the Bruins to need to clear some space with a corresponding deal elsewhere. There’s also the matter of ponying up assets in exchange for Nash, who it’s believed would cost the Bruins a first round pick and a solid prospect that is not yet on the NHL roster.

That means the Bruins would able to avoid potentially dealing Brandon Carlo, Jake DeBrusk or Danton Heinen from their NHL roster, which it wasn’t expected they would need to move in a rental deal for Nash. But it does mean the Bruins likely would be parting with a blue chip prospect still in the development stage, whether it’s Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Jakub Zboril, Zach Senyshyn or even a college hockey prospect like Trent Frederic.

That’s a big price to pay from Boston’s future to be sure, but it would be done based on Nash being an impact player this season for a Bruins team that looks like they might have a pretty good postseason run in them.

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