Patriots

Moore earns playing time, makes most of it

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Moore earns playing time, makes most of it

INDIANAPOLIS The loyalty that Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers has to players with some NBA experience over rookies is commendable - almost to a fault.

But at some point, Rivers had no choice but to give the C's second-round pick E'Twaun Moore a chance to play meaningful minutes instead of coming in for end-of-the-game, mop-up duty.

The Celtics suffered yet another defeat on Saturday, this time a 97-83 loss to Indiana.

But within the defeat, the C's may have found a reliable backup guard for Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen in Moore.

The fact that the 6-foot-3 combo guard played so well on Saturday shouldn't be all that surprising. In the shortened preseason, Moore was clearly one of the Celtics' better players - not just among the rookies, but among all the C's.

So when you try and figure out why he hasn't played more, Rivers is quick to lay the blame where it belongs.

"I've held up his progress, honestly," Rivers said. "I've been saying for a week now, 'he should play. He should play.' You're trying to give other guy's a chance to take that. And E'Twaun just the thing I was most impressed, he didn't get discouraged. He just kept pushing forward; kept pushing forward, every practice, everything we had, he kept standing out. His play screamed at me, to put him in. And he was terrific."

If Rivers sticks to his guns and continues to get Moore on the floor, that means Avery Bradley's playing time will be slashed and at times, wiped out altogether.

Moore, who played at nearby Purdue and grew up on the East Chicago, Indiana - about two hours away from Indianapolis - had seven points, three assists, two steals and a couple of rebounds in about 20 minutes.

Rivers added, "he played well tonight and you don't get too excited about it. But I know he can play. We just have to give him more of a shot."

Moore, like the rest of the media, has heard for days from Rivers how his opportunity to play was going to come.

Play or not, Moore said his preparation didn't change.

"It's a learning process," Moore said. "I'm trying to get better everyday. By seeing these guys play and watching the games, I'm very observant and try to get better from there."

Having unshakable confidence has been a key to Moore's progress. Having a head coach like Rivers who believes in his game, also helps.

But ultimately, it comes down to how well the Celtics veterans, players like Paul Pierce, feel about his game.

Needless to say, you can count Pierce among those who likes what he's seen thus far from the rookie.

"His poise; for a rookie, the calmness that he brings to the game," Pierce said. "Most rookies that you see come in, are a little erratic. They really rush things. He really has a good poise about him. I don't know if that comes from his maturity of being a four-year college player. Maybe that's it; being well coached in college. He's a mature rookie, and he understands the pace of the game."

Backes and Bergeron return to Bruins practice, may be back in action soon

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Backes and Bergeron return to Bruins practice, may be back in action soon

BRIGHTON -- It was good news when word first filtered out that David Backes had resumed skating last weekend while the Bruins were on the West Coast, and even better news Tuesday when he returned to practice. Backes skated without any restrictions in a spot on the third line with Riley Nash and Tim Schaller, and appeared to be recovering nicely from his bout of diverticulitis.

Backes was initially diagnosed with the inflammatory colon ailment in the first few days of October, with the team estimating a three- to four-week recovery period. If he'd needed surgery rather than the  prescribed rest and medication, he could have been facing a lot more missed games.

Patrice Bergeron was also back skating on Tuesday morning while centering Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork, still sporting a maroon no-contact jersey while taking some light contact during the practice session.

Backes and Bergeron look like they’ could be returning to the lineup soon.

But the injury news wasn't all good, as Ryan Spooner, Austin Czarnik, Danton Heinen and Adam McQuaid were all missing from practice.

Spooner (lower body) and McQuaid (lower body) were both injured in Sunday night’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, and Czarnik and/or Heinen might be ticketed back to Providence soon if the Bruins have to make roster space for Bergeron and/or Backes ahead of Thursday night’s home game against the Vancouver Canucks.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena with a whole different look to things with some of the different bodies taking part in the skate:

Marchand-Bergeron-Bjork
DeBrusk-Krejci-Pasta
Schaller-Nash-Backes
Beleskey-Kuraly-Vatrano
White

Chara-Carlo
Miller-McAvoy
Krug-Postma

Rask
Khudobin