Celtics

Rivers irked by Davis-Stoudemire trash talk

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Rivers irked by Davis-Stoudemire trash talk

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Shaquille O'Neal is out. Two-thirds of the Boston Celtics team wasn't here when the season started.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers has heard all the excuses and justifications for why the C's may come out flat for tonight's game.

His response?

"We're ready. We're fine."

We'll see if Rivers' words are just talk, something at least one Celtics player probably did a bit too much of recently.

Glen Davis was asked about defending New York's Amar'e Stoudemire, one of the NBA's top scorers this past season.

"It's really not that hard," Davis said. "I give him too much credit. I have to make him react to me, not me react to him."

Davis' comments eventually made their way back to Stoudemire.

"Me and Glen Davis (are) on two different platforms," Stoudemire told reporters. "He's a solid player, does a great job for his ball club. But we are on two different platforms."

As a former player and veteran NBA head coach, Rivers has heard his share of trash talk.

"Listen, it's all talk. I don't like it; never liked it,' Rivers said. "But it's going to happen. And it's all talk at the end of the day."

Rivers said it is something that is talked about some, but added, "I'm more focused on playing basketball. At the end of the day, if you can talk and play, that's good. If you can't talk and play, than stop talking. We'll find out who does what."

Defensive numbers misleading
The Celtics defense was among the league's best a year ago. And this year, they gave up a league-low 91.1 points per game which was an improvement on last season's team which gave up 95.6 points per game.

Rivers recognizes the improvement, but he comes into tonight's game concerned about his team's play in the fourth quarter.

Boston lost 26 games this season, 10 of which came in games in which they were either ahead or tied going into the fourth.

"We've had some bad fourth quarters defensively," Rivers acknowledged. "That's something in the New Year (the playoffs), we have to be better."

Inactive list
Rivers said that along with Shaquille O'Neal (right calfAchilles tendon), Avery Bradley and Carlos Arroyo will be on the inactive roster tonight.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Khudobin can't save Bruins' goaltending situation

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Khudobin can't save Bruins' goaltending situation

The entire concept of Tuukka Rask getting pushed by one of his backups is based on the backup consistently performing at a high standard, and that wasn’t the case for Anton Khudobin over the weekend.

Just as it isn’t solely the fault of Rask when the Bruins lose, it wasn’t solely the fault of Khudobin that Boston squandered leads of 3-0 and 4-1 in an overtime loss to Buffalo on Saturday night. But Khudobin couldn’t step up and carry the B's when they clearly started losing their edge in the second half of the game, and that inconsistency will certainly make the Bruins pine for a sooner-rather-than-later return of a concussed Rask.

“Erratic,” said coach Bruce Cassidy when asked to describe Khudobin postgame. “He battles. We love that about him. He battled to the end. He certainly made his share of saves. We need to be better in front of him. But there were times that, there were fires that needed to be put out that shouldn’t have been necessary. But that happens sometimes.”

It was certainly too much to expect Khudobin to be perfect, but they just needed him to be good enough to pull them through while they were getting waylaid in the second half of the game. That proved to be a major challenge, given the players the Bruins are missing and the extremely rough night suffered by Torey Krug (minus-3 on Saturday night, and minus-8 for the season). Khudobin finished with 37 stops as a defense corps without Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller wilted in the third period and the overtime, but he couldn’t make the clean saves for whistles when the team really needed them. Case in point was a Rasmus Ristolainen tester in overtime while the Bruins were in the midst of being outshot by a 6-0 margin in the extra session. Khudobin got a glove on it but couldn’t cleanly catch it for a badly needed stoppage in play at a time when Krug, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand had been caught on the ice for over two minutes.

"The start was great, and the game was great until we scored the fourth goal, and I think after that, we thought it was an easy game,” said Khudobin. “[The high volume of shots] wasn’t that much difficult, I like shots, like probably every other goalie, but they were crashing the net. They were going hard. There were a lot of deflections, a lot of rebounds, a lot of scrums in front of the net, which were . . .that’s the dangerous part, not just the shots.”

Khudobin, 31, has taken five of a possible six points in the games he's played this season and is off to a solid start with a 2-0-1 record, a 2.98 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage. He looks like he’s going to be a perfectly fine backup, enabling the Bruins to hold Rask to the 55-60 games they’ve forecasted for his peak performance this season.

But Saturday night was a major blow to any hopes that Rask would be pushed competitively by his backup, and that a Khudobin hot streak could spark a slow-starting, and now injured, Rask when he does return.

Instead the Bruins are left to hope they can survive while missing Rask along with a number of other key players, and that the goalie returns sooner than later to a team that can’t survive too many morale-crushing defeats like the choke job against the lowly Sabres.

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