McQuaid finally ready to start season


McQuaid finally ready to start season

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli indicated that Adam McQuaid should be a go for Saturday nights opener against the New York Rangers. But the 26-year-old rugged defenseman had to go out and prove it on the practice ice after undergoing blood clot surgery in the fall.

Where McQuaid once thought his season might be over as he was originally prescribed blood thinners for a lengthy amount of time following surgery, now it appears he may not miss any time after looking strong in contact drills over the last two practice days. The final test may be when McQuaid drops the glove to throw his first right-handed punch in anger after building a reputation as a hockey tough guy, but that wont come until the Black and Gold start playing in some regular season games.

Everything has felt good and been a positive step toward no limitations starting this weekend. And despite the appearance that McQuaid lost a significant amount of weight following the blood clot surgeries, he said hes now back up to his 209-pound playing weight of last season.

I havent had a chance to open the season with the team, so Im hoping that this is the year, said McQuaid, who has been either shelved by illness or a healthy scratch at the start of each of the last two seasons after debuting in midseason with the Bruins in 2009-10. Contact has been pretty good. Im trying to test myself as often as possible and felt pretty good. Its been a long time since Ive been in a lot of those situations, so its a bit of a feeling-out process.

For the Bruins it brings back size and defensive strength around the net: something that was missing when Andrew Ference was without his normal D partner in the playoffs as McQuaid battled concussion symptoms.

He had a pretty good scare with that blood clot, but hes great now, said Claude Julien. Hes recovered well and I guess the doctors determined that hes okay. Thats why hes on the ice with us. I know last year during the playoffs we missed his size and his great defensive play. We missed him.

Partners are also used to playing with each other and Andrew is somebody thats used to playing with him. You just have to look at two years ago when they were a great pair for us.

Ference and McQuaid will hope to recreate that D-man magic this season with both players healthy and ready to go, and thats pretty amazing given that it didnt even seem remotely possible a couple of months ago.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Mavericks


WATCH: Celtics vs. Mavericks

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Mavericks in Dallas. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

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Celtics-Mavericks preview: C's need to play Smart vs. Dallas

Celtics-Mavericks preview: C's need to play Smart vs. Dallas

Get it done. No excuses.
That has been how the Boston Celtics have played most of this season.
And if there’s one Celtics player who embodies that on this team, it’s Marcus Smart.
The fourth-year guard has struggled all season with his shot-making, but when the game is on the line in the fourth quarter you can count on Smart to be on the floor.


He has been among the many reasons Boston has won 15 in a row, which is the fifth-longest winning streak in franchise history.
And Smart will be among the Celtics looking to keep it going tonight against the Dallas Mavericks.
Most likely, Smart will make an impact with his defense, which is among the best in the NBA.

How good?
Smart has a defensive rating of 93.4 (points allowed per 100 possessions) which is tops among all guards in the NBA, and ranks third among all players who have played in at least 10 games this season.
But in the 110-99 win over the Hawks, Smart knocked down a couple of 3-pointers which was a big deal considering how mightily he has struggled shooting the ball this season.
Smart is shooting 27.3 percent from the field as well as from 3-point range – both career lows.
However, he’s also averaging career highs in assists (4.5) and rebounds (5.1) this season.
And while he certainly doesn’t appear to be affected by the shooting struggles, he acknowledges that it is something that he can’t help but think about from time to time.
“It does affect you, especially if you’ve been working (on shooting) all summer,” Smart said. “At the same time, I don’t take as many shots. But like I said, we got other guys who are playing well. My job is to get them the ball and do whatever I can, go back down the floor, play defense and get the ball again.”

In Boston’s win over Atlanta, Smart spent a good amount of time defending Marco Belinelli who had four points on 2-for-10 shooting compared to 19 points on 6-for-10 shooting when these two teams met earlier this month.
Coach Brad Stevens pointed to the job Smart did on Belinelli, in addition to the clutch offensive rebound he was able to snag and quickly put back up and in that gave Boston a 103-95 game with about two minutes to play.
“He was really good,” Stevens said.
The same could be said for most of the Celtics of late.
Kyrie Irving is coming off his most efficient game of the season, tallying 30 points on 10-for-12 shooting from the field. Jayson Tatum had a rough start, but he came on strong as well with 14 points – all coming in the second half.
But the backbone of Boston’s success lies in what they’re able to get done defensively.
So far, Boston’s defense has been as strong as we’ve seen this early, in quite some time.
Boston, which has a league-best defensive rating of 95.9, has length, savvy and an overall total buy-in by the players on what Brad Stevens is looking for, from them.
Meanwhile, the Mavericks (3-14) are coming off their most impressive victory this season, a 111-79 win over Milwaukee.  Dennis Smith Jr. has been among the more talented rookies this season. He’s averaging 14.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. Dallas is indeed in a transition period where longtime superstar Dirk Nowitzki (10.3 points, 5.5 rebounds per game) is gradually passing the torch to his younger teammates like Harrison Barnes (18.7 points, 7.1 rebounds) and Smith Jr.
Much like the Hawks game, the Celtics must approach this game with a focus on the opponent and not their record.
Because the Celtics are no longer just a good team on the schedule. They are a measuring stick for most to see how they stack up against the league’s best.
And the Celtics understand how their success has changed how teams see them.
“Now that we have a reputation, I think everyone is coming for us,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “Now we have to come play even harder, and I think we can do that. I think we are more than capable.”