BOSTON Atlanta's Joe Johnson has a four-inch height advantage over Boston's 6-2 guard Avery Bradley in a matchup that Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers acknowledges he's not crazy about.
In fact, the Cs gave some thought to making a lineup change to better match up with Johnson, who came into this series as the Hawks' leading scorer in the regular season.
But Rivers ultimately decided to stick with Bradley, who has started all five playoff games in addition to 28 regular season games.
Bradley has been a huge part of the Celtics' resurgence after the all-star break, displaying the kind of on-the-ball-pressure that established him as one of the league's up-and-coming defenders.
In addition, the C's have seen his offensive game evolve to the point where teams can no longer lay off him the way they at times treat his backcourt mate, Rajon Rondo.
But in the midst of his improved play, Bradley has been battling a left shoulder injury which has become more troublesome as the C's get deeper into the playoffs. Team officials described it as a sore rotator cuff injury that Bradley admits is still sore and at times uncomfortable.
But the prospect of replacing Bradley with someone like Sasha Pavlovic, Mickael Pietrus or one of the C's bigger perimeter defenders is tempting.
However, the Celtics don't want to do anything to potential stunt Bradley's impressive growth this season - like benching him in the playoffs.
"We thought about it," Rivers acknowledged. "Avery's a young kid and even if we have to make a move early, we'd rather do that then take him out of the lineup."
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while prepping for Claude Bowl II.
*It’s going to be a robust trade market for defensemen with names such as Jack Johnson, Dion Phaneuf and Oliver Ekman-Larsson highlighting the group that’s available. Paul Martin will be in that select company if he clears through waivers and perhaps Niklas Hjalmarsson will as well with many teams holding D-men they’re willing to part with.
*The Buffalo Sabres apparently want four assets in any deal for rental Evander Kane that includes a draft pick, a prospect and an NHL roster player, and it’s hard to believe anybody is going to do that for a perennial underachiever who's never even scored 60 points in a season before.
*A tough end to the Andrew Cogliano iron-man streak as he’s been suspended for a couple of games after an incident last weekend.
*Brent Burns is the envy of many blueliners around the league because of his hard, accurate shot, which isn’t scoring him as many goals this season
*Year-round Las Vegas resident Deryk Engelland has been rewarded for being a member of the Golden Knights with a one-year contract extension.
*It sounds like the Philadelphia Flyers have got Shayne Gostisbehere thinking more about defense after some up-and-down moments last season in his sophomore effort.
*For something completely different: A profile on a UFC champion and a firefighter all at the same time. Sounds like an interesting dude.
BRIGHTON, Mass – Noel Acciari was in and out of the Bruins lineup in the Monday afternoon loss to the Dallas Stars with an upper-body injury and the fourth-line grinder was missing from the practice ice on Tuesday as well.
Acciari has been able to stay healthy the past few months while helping to establish Boston’s fourth line and has added to his hard-hitting style of play with six goals in 28 games this season.
But there's been a litany of injuries the past few seasons given the physical pounding the 5-foot-10, 208-pounder takes given his rugged style of play. This current injury limited him to just 6:05 of ice time in an overtime loss to the Stars. Still, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy was optimistic that Acciari would be able to suit up against the Canadiens on Wednesday night in Claude Julien’s return to TD Garden.
“Jake DeBrusk was under the weather and so was Kevan Miller, so they stayed home,” said Cassidy of Acciari, who has missed 14 games this season mainly due to a broken finger suffered blocking a shot on opening night. “Noel Acciari has a bit of an upper-body injury and it affected his minutes [Monday vs. Dallas]. He’s kind of day-to-day. I suspect that he would play tomorrow, but we’ll have a better idea on [Wednesday] morning.”
Both DeBrusk and Miller are expected to be fine to play against the Habs in their rematch from last weekend this time on Boston's home ice. Here are the line combos and D-pairings for the players that were on the ice for Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena: