Celtics

McQuaid a game-time decision for Bruins

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McQuaid a game-time decision for Bruins

TAMPA Adam McQuaid thought things were pretty bad as he left CONSOL Energy Center on Sunday afternoon. He was headed for the hospital while his team was still playing on the ice.

The towering defenseman was on the receiving end of a shoulder-to-shoulder hit with Pittsburgh Penguins power forward James Neal, and McQuaid immediately crumpled up and skated off the ice in severe pain while play continued.

The Bs defensemen couldnt make it back to the Bruins bench on his own, and the team was obviously thinking worst-case scenario after watching the wince-worthy sequence of events.

But McQuaid checked out okay at the Pittsburgh hospital and was back out on the ice Tuesday morning for a pregame skate at the Tampa Times Forum. He was preparing to play, and Julien indicated following the skate that Mike Mottau will be a healthy scratch.

Its going to come down to a choice between Greg Zanon and McQuaid for the final defensemen spot against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Julien might just err on the side of caution.

I know McQuaid and Patrice Bergeron are possibilities, but not certainties," Julien said. "Well dress 13 forwards and seven defensemen for the pregame warm-ups tonight. Well know more later, and well know even more after warm-ups. We had no idea how bad things were with the injuries on Sunday. Bergeron and McQuaid were in bad shape. They couldnt even finish up the game.

It was a hit that really hurt McQuaid to the point where he had to go to the hospital to get checked out. But it looks like a little bit of a break on our end that they were able to skate with us so quickly. We want to play with players that are as healthy as they can be. One thing you dont want is to put them in at 70 percent and then you lose them for another week or two. So you want to make sure the decision is the right one with all of these guys.

McQuaid doesnt appear to be quite 100 percent and may end up a healthy scratch given Bostons depth along the blue line. But McQuaids presence at the skate was a testament to his toughness and willingness to play through pain.

Im feeling better with each day and making steady progress. Ill come to the rink prepared to play, but weve got a lot of healthy D right now. So well see what happens, said McQuaid. It was something I hadnt experienced before, so I wasnt sure how bad it was. To be where I am today from Sunday means Im making pretty good progress.

Depth is never a negative thing. In a situation of injuries or when everybody is healthy it keeps a good competition for people to want to stay in the lineup.

The gritty defensemen admitted he was pretty concerned right after the car-crash collision that his injury was something serious.

There is always a little bit of concern right away. But I got all checked out and everything worked out. It put my mind at ease a little bit and you just worry about getting better, said McQuaid.

Consider McQuaid one of the walking wounded ready to suit up for the Bruins as the team has a considerable number of players in the Black and Gold infirmary.

Celtics-Hawks preview: C' defense looks to keep up historic pace

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Celtics-Hawks preview: C' defense looks to keep up historic pace

As the wins continue to pile up for the Boston Celtics, so does the praise and adulation from others throughout the league. 

It’s a double-edged sword if you think about it. 

Acknowledging how good the Celtics are, is indeed a sign of respect. 

But it also means Boston plays every game with a large target on its back unlike any of Brad Stevens’ previous Celtics teams. 

And that means every game they play, even those like tonight’s matchup at Atlanta where they will be heavily favored, are dangerous matchups.

Because for some teams, the next best thing to competing against the champ (Golden State) is facing the team with the best record who just knocked off the champ. 

That will be one of the dynamics at work tonight when the Celtics (14-2) kick off a three-game road trip against a trio of sub-.500 teams beginning with the Hawks (3-12).

Boston has shown tremendous focus and attention to detail during their 14-game winning streak. But in that span, the Celtics have never had a trio of teams right behind each other that struggled as much as the Hawks, the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks have this season. 

Not including games played on Friday, Boston’s next three opponents are a combined 11-33. 

All three of those teams would love to be the one to knock off the Celtics, the kind of victory that could significantly shift the direction of their respective franchises from their current downward spin. 

Meanwhile, the Celtics will look to continue to play with the kind of defensive temperament that has catapulted them to the top of the NBA’s defensive standings in several categories. 

“The way they’re beating teams it ain’t pretty,” a league executive texted NBC Sports Boston. “But they win. Last I checked, that’s what matters most.”

And that success has to a large degree, put a bigger bullseye on the Celtics than ever. 

“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.”

Especially if they continue to defend at a level we haven’t seen in years. 

Boston has a league-best defensive rating of 95.4. A key component in Boston’s strong play defensively has been their ability to win the battle of the boards. They come into tonight’s game with a .530 rebounding percentage which is second in the league to Portland (.539).

And that defense, while praised for how it functions collectively, it also consists of some pretty good individual defenders as well. 

Among guards averaging at least 20 minutes per game, Boston has four players ranked among the top 10 in defensive rating (Marcus Smart, 93.5 defensive rating, 2nd); Jaylen Brown (93.6, 3rd); Terry Rozier (95.0, 5th) and Kyrie Irving (96.4, 8th). 

When you look at forwards, Brown headlines a trio of forwards that includes himself, Al Horford (94.2, 3rd) and Jayson Tatum (96.1, 7th). 

Aron Baynes has the best defensive rating (90.6) among centers, followed by Horford (94.2).

“Our guys are locked in and really trying and again we can really play some pretty ugly basketball at times,” Stevens said. “But I do think that we are competing which is really good.”