Celtics

Lucic, Bruins find success with 'quick strike' play

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Lucic, Bruins find success with 'quick strike' play

The Bruins have become masters of the quick strike attack over the last several seasons, and it helped them again in their time of need against the Ottawa Senators.

The Bruins were down by a pair of goals late in the second period and were getting outshot by a 13-4 margin in a middle block of time they were badly losing to a hungry, young Sens bunch.

But that all changed with Milan Lucic potting his 17th goal of the season with 46 seconds left before the second intermission, and pulling the Bruins to within a single goal of a 3-3 score. Claude Julien was quick to say afterward that Lucics goal didnt swing any momentum, but instead merely let the Bs know they had a chance to come back if their director really killed it.

Brad Marchand and Dennis Seidenberg cooperated with a pair of third period goals to pull the rug out from under the Senators, and the Bs improved to 10-1-1 while scoring a goal within the last two minutes of any period this season. Thats the quick strike cause and effect, and the demoralized look from Ottawa in the third period spoke volumes about the goals effect.

Its huge. Obviously its a great way to finish off a period, feeling good about yourself heading into the dressing room," said Lucic, who holds five points in the last four games. "It still wasnt that great of a feeling because we felt like we got outworked and lost a lot of battles in the second period.

"But in the end we still had some confidence knowing that we were just one goal down . . . instead of two goals down heading into the third. And obviously our power play came up big and we were able to pull one through.

The Marchand goal was a thing of beauty as he muscled Chris Phillips off the puck in front of the Ottawa net, and Dennis Seidenbergs game-winner should have plenty of people talking given that the shot was fired from center-ice at TD Garden.

But it was Lucic, who took a Rich Peverley feed off the side wall, that went bombing down the lane and fired away with a blistering wrist shot that completely hand-cuffed Anderson. That goal wasnt the moment that turned the tide for the Black and Gold, but it did give them a pathway to success where there hasnt always been one over the last month of hockey. Instead Lucics goal was a stark reminder that their power forward fills a huge role on a Bruins team that badly needs him.

We didnt see the Lucic goal as a momentum shift. We kind of looked at it as, were fortunate now that were only one goal behind after two periods," said Julien. "It just put us in a better position. I think what we did is we recognized that we werent playing very well. We had to be a lot better in the third period, and that goal just kind of game us some hope that the next goal hopefully would be ours. Wed be in a tie game and then scrape away from there.

I really thought our guys focused; their intent is there. Were just fighting it right now, and every game seems to be a battle for us to win. Hopefully that third period is something we can start off with next game, with Carolina coming in, a team that we havent beaten yet this year. So Im hoping that we can kind of get some confidence from that third period and go from there. Were a little out of sync. We look rusty, especially offensively. We dont look like a very confident team right now."

So while all of the fanfare will be all about Bostons third period revival thats been going for the better of the season, it should be about the quick strike offensive philosophy that once again paid dividends for the Bs.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics back in win column

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics back in win column

0:41 - The Celtics returned to their winning ways with a 118-103 victory over the Orlando Magic. Tom Giles, Phil Perry and Rob “Hardy” Poole break down the win.

6:58 - Tom Giles and Hardy discuss the Bruins’ four-game winning streak and how the success of Anton Khudobin has helped keep the team afloat.

11:39 - Is the Patriots' Week 12 matchup with the Dolphins a trap game? Tom Giles, Phil Perry and Hardy discuss where Miami ranks among NFL teams and how the Patriots should approach the game.

17:07 - With Black Friday upon us, the Boston Sports Tonight crew discusses what big-ticket item they would choose to buy for any Boston sports team. 

 

Morris out, Brown questionable for Pacers game Saturday

Morris out, Brown questionable for Pacers game Saturday

BOSTON – Boston made strengthening their depth at the wing position a priority during the offseason.

Well, that depth will be put to the test with the possibility of at least one and maybe two of their top wing players being out for Saturday’s game at Indiana.

Shortly after Boston’s 118-103 win over Orlando on Friday night, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens announced that Marcus Morris (left knee) would not travel with the team for Saturday’s game against the Pacers.

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Also, Jaylen Brown will be attending the funeral of his best friend (Trevin Steede) in Georgia on Saturday and isn’t sure if he’ll be back with the team in time for Saturday’s game.

“My intention is to make it back. If I can, I’ll definitely be playing,” Brown said. “But we’ll see.”

The absence of Brown would be a huge blow for the Celtics.

Boston only returned four players from last season’s team, none of whom have improved their overall game as much as Brown did during the offseason.

He came into the season focused on being a lock-down defender.

But Gordon Hayward’s left ankle injury was a game-changer for all the Celtics, including Brown.

Not only would Brown be charged with being an elite defender, but Boston now needed the second-year wing player to become more of a scoring threat.

And to Brown’s credit, he has risen to the challenge.

In 20 games (all starts) this season, Brown has averaged 15.9 points per game which is second on the team to Kyrie Irving (22.9). In addition, Brown’s defense has been among the keys to Boston’s 17-3 start which is the best record in the NBA thus far this season.

His defensive rating of 95.0 is fifth among players to appear in at least 10 games this season, and tops among all second-year players. And of the four players ahead of him, two – Aron Baynes and Marcus Smart – are teammates.

But just like the Celtics gave Isaiah Thomas all the time he needed in dealing with the death of his sister right before the playoffs last season, a similar approach has been taken with Brown which he is admittedly appreciative of the organization for doing.

“Brad (Stevens) has been great in this process,” Brown said. “Just somebody to talk to, allowing me to deal with it in the best way our family and their family feels we can deal with it. He’s been great; we’ll see how it goes. Hopefully I can make it to Indiana; if not, I just have to re-group with my family and I’ll see you guys next game (against Detroit on Monday).”

While there's a chance that Brown will play against Indiana, the same can not be said for Morris who is definitely out.

Morris, who missed the first eight games of the season with left knee soreness, has been on a minutes restriction all season in addition to not being allowed to play in back-to-back games.

Following Friday’s game, Morris said the knee feels good but he understands the need to be cautious.

“It’s frustrating,” said Morris who acknowledged the decision was made by the coaching and medical staff. “I’m a competitor, so I want to be out there.”

He added, “Like I said, at this point I pretty much don’t have control over it when I’m playing. It’s a long season. I just want to be ready for June.”

With Morris out and Brown potentially out as well, the Celtics will be extremely thin and inexperienced at the wing position. Look for Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes to be in the starting lineup if Brown is out along with Morris.

Also, Stevens will likely use Terry Rozier and first-year forward Semi Ojeleye more in addition to increased spot-duty for another rookie, Abdel Nader. On Friday, Rozier had a career-high 23 points while Ojeleye and Nader had seven and three points, respectively.

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