Blackhawks

Rivers confident new pieces will find their rhythm

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Rivers confident new pieces will find their rhythm

The main core of the Boston Celtics remained intact this offseason, but the surrounding pieces are new and it has taken Doc Rivers group time to find their rhythm.

But Rivers knows it will come soon enough.

Offseason acquisition Courtney Lee started the first five games at shooting guard for the Celtics, but Rivers switched things up and went with Jason Terry on Saturday night against the Bucks. Terry will get the start again Monday night against the Bulls, a move Rivers said will get his team closer to staying consistent throughout the game.

Were still just trying to figure out a way where we can play 48 solid straight minutes, and maybe thats not gonna happen right away, but its coming, Rivers said. I do feel like, as a team, and I dont know it has anything to do with whos on the floor or the rotation or anything like that, I think were just starting to figure it out and get it.

Defensively were late on a lot of the stuff we should be there on, but you can see the guys, theyre thinking about it now, and now I guess the next step is doing it. I think offensively we moved the ball, in the second half was terrific. But thats only one half, and so again were just trying to complete a game, a full game.

Terry and Lee were brought in this summer to replace Ray Allen, who signed with Miami as a free agent. The NBAs all-time leading 3-point shooter had been with Boston the last five seasons, and averaged 16.7 points and 2.2 3-pointers per game in that span.

With Allen gone, the replacements have struggled to match that productivity. Lee has averaged just 5.0 points in more than 25 minutes per game. Terry seems to be finding his touch with a 14.6 point-per-game average over the last three games, which has an uptick in minutes closer to a starters.

But while the Celtics chemistry at shooting guard continues to mesh, another concern is who spells Rajon Rondo on the second unit.

Neither Terry nor Lee are true point guards, and with Avery Bradley -- a true shooting guard but a player Rivers trusts to run Bostons offense -- sidelined until December, Rondo has no real backup. He currently leads the league in minutes per game (41.2) but Rivers realizes that trend cannot continue if he wants his All-Star floor general healthy down the stretch.

"Weve basically got one point guard, and its Rajon Rondo, Rivers said. Hes a pretty good one, but he cant play all game. And so what were trying to run is a lot of motion stuff where anyone can bring it up, but weve got to get someone to bring it up.

Rivers even noted that in Saturdays game against Milwaukee, with Rondo on the bench all five Celtics players started running down-court after a made basket, with no one taking the inbounds to bring the ball up.

It takes time. Thats part of team-building, guys. It just doesnt happen overnight. I wish it did, but theyll buy in, Rivers added. I think we have a good group and they all want to figure it out, individually first and then as a team. But I think theyre trying.

NHL Draft Profile: D Noah Dobson

NHL Draft Profile: D Noah Dobson

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Noah Dobson

Position: Defenseman
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 180 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"A very effective two-way defenseman with good puck distribution and a strong shot from the points on the power play. He is a point-producer with size, who defends and utilizes strong positioning and a good stick in the defensive zone."

NHL player comparable: Brent Burns

Fit for Blackhawks:

The Blackhawks lacked defensemen that generated offense last year. They also lacked defenders than can ... defend. Dobson is a player who can do both, and if he slips past Vancouver at No. 7, the Blackhawks may have a difficult decision on their hands.

Dobson could solve some of those defensive issues, but it likely wouldn't be in time for the 2018-19 season. He needs time to develop properly.

The Blackhawks like to evaluate prospects based on what their ceiling is and where they're at in their development curve, and if they see major upside here, they'll go for it. It just depends if there's somebody available that they like better.

NHL Draft Profile: F Jesperi Kotkaniemi

NHL Draft Profile: F Jesperi Kotkaniemi

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Jesperi Kotkaniemi

Position: Center
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 189 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"Kotkaniemi has been a top-six forward for his league team in Finland all season and had a very solid U18 season relative to his historical peers in the league. He has very good hands that are high-end, if not flashing elite. He can make very skilled plays off an entry, but what impresses me is how well he can control the puck and keep plays alive."

NHL player comparable:

Fit for Blackhawks:

There isn't a player that has climbed the rankings in such a short amount of time than Kotkaniemi, who was initially projected to go outside the top 10 but could go as high as No. 3 overall. It's likely because there aren't many high-end centers in this draft, and he's the top one.

If Kotkaniemi happens to slip to No. 8, it may be hard for the Blackhawks to pass up on him. He's versatile, too, which is always a bonus, especially when playing under Joel Quenneville. But if they view him as a center, here's how the Blackhawks would look down the middle: Jonathan Toews, Nick Schmaltz, Kotkaniemi and Artem Anisimov.

Um, yeah. That'll work.