Celtics

Marchand's wait is almost over

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Marchand's wait is almost over

TAMPA Brad Marchands waiting game is almost over.

The Bruins agitator will serve out the final game of his five-game suspension Tuesday night at the Tampa Times Forum as his teammates suit up to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Once the game in Tampa is over Marchand will officially be out of the leagues doghouse.

Its been a bit of a lonely existence for Marchand practicing long after his teammates have left the rink and getting run through bag skates all by his lonesome. Marchand went through the suspended guy routine one final time on Tuesday following morning skate, and now hes ready to rejoin his teammates for both regular practice and games starting tomorrow. One positive: The games have so been bunched up for the Bruins that Marchand said the time on the sidelines actually felt shorter than the five games hes missed.

But theres no mistaking his enthusiasm to jump back into meaningful hockey with the boys after a forced vacation.

Its been a long week-and-a-half and its always tough to watch the team play, so itll be nice to get back in there, said Marchand. Its more mentally frustrating with watching. Sometimes things arent going the right way and you think that you could help.

When youre watching the games you really cant do anything. Its also a grind because they put you through a tough bag skate workout in the morning and then another one at night. Itll be nice to get back out and feel like youre a part of the team.

What wasn't nice was the 150,000 taken out of Marchands wallet for clipping Sami Salo during Bostons loss to the Vancouver Canucks nearly two weeks ago.

You dont like to lose that kind of money, but Im still making out okay. At the end of the day you learn from it. You realize you might have to change your game if you dont want it to happen again, said Marchand. It was a little frustrating to lose that kind of money . . . especially at my age. It sucks. But life goes on.

With all of that in the rear view, Marchand is revved up to jump back into the lineup Thursday night against the New Jersey Devils. The left wing hopes to put the incident behind him and feels hes got a pretty good grasp on when hell be able to duck an onrushing attacker next.

The way Brendan Shanahan explained it during my meeting was that if were not going at each other physically then its a little more acceptable, said Marchand, who was a little surprised at the suspension's length after thinking he might get hit with a two-game penalty. Maybe its okay if a guy is trying to blindside me or something, but for the most part Im going to try and stay away from the clipping hits.

Marchand's penalty handed the Canucks a pair of power play goals that ultimately provided the difference between the two hockey teams. When Marchand puts together the consequences of the five-minute major in that specific game and the five games missed due to suspension, he still has some lingering issues with the harshness of Shanahans decision.

But something Marchand knows very well is that anytime you fight the law, the law is going to win.

I can understand that thered be a bit of punishment, but not to the extent of what was given. One or two games would have been more than enough especially given that I lost the team our game against Vancouver, said Marchand. That would have been acceptable. I still dont think it should have been five games.

Whatever the amount of games, Benoit Pouliot has done a solid job standing in for Marchand during the last four games with Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin. Pouliot has posted a pair of points and a plus-2 in the first four games of substitute work, and has one game to go against the Lightning.

But theres no replacing the kind of chemistry Marchand has with Bergeron and Seguin, and the team wont have to miss it anymore when Marchand returns to the mix Thursday night against the Devils.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Heat in Miami. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview: Will Celtics be drained by emotional comeback win Monday in Dallas?

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

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Celtics-Heat preview: Will Celts be drained by emotional win in Dallas?

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Celtics-Heat preview: Will Celts be drained by emotional win in Dallas?

The Boston Celtics remain a team whose collective talents are far more valuable than their individual abilities.

But there are going to be nights when someone has to shoulder a larger burden of the team in order to win. More often than not, that “one” will likely be No. 11, Kyrie Irving. 

We saw in Dallas what can happen when Irving feels he has little choice but to put the team on his back and carry them to victory. 

The Celtics were desperate for a spark against the Mavericks and found it in Irving, who scored 47 points in leading the Celtics to a come-from-behind 110-102 overtime win. 

It remains to be seen if the Celtics will require a similar Herculean effort tonight when they take the Miami Heat with a chance to extend their winning streak to 17 straight. 

This team isn’t one to dwell on success in the past, even if the past was just 24 hours ago. But there’s no getting around how what happened on Monday night might impact what we see against the Heat. 

Boston expended a tremendous amount of energy in rallying from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter at Dallas, the kind of effort that may be difficult to replicate against a Miami team that you can count on to play hard from the opening tip to the final horn. 

Irving’s performance was one of the rare instances this season when Boston clearly could not have won without their top scorer having a big game. 

“When we needed it most, he made big shot after big shot,” said Al Horford. “He had such good rhythm, I was thinking, ‘just let him keep it going.’ He just kept being aggressive, taking really good shots. He recognized he needed to be extra aggressive, especially at the end and score the ball for us.”

Scoring could potentially be at a premium against Miami which allows 102.5 points per game which ranks ninth in the league in fewest points allowed. Also, the Heat will test Boston’s perimeter defenders. Miami comes into tonight’s game averaging 11.1 made 3-pointers per game which ranks ninth in the NBA. 

The Heat are led by Goran Dragic who is averaging team highs in scoring (18.3 points) and assists (4.7) this season. 

These two squared off earlier this season in Miami with the Celtics coming away with a 96-90 win as Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum led the way with 24 and 20 points, respectively. In that game, the Heat were without starting center Hassan Whiteside, who will be in the lineup tonight as the Heat try to bounce back after losing three of its last four games.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE