Celtics gearing up for Spurs, Thunder

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Celtics gearing up for Spurs, Thunder

BOSTON Even the Celtics find themselves from time to time taking a verbal dip into the "take things one game at a time" mantra that far too many coaches and players adopt as a primary talking point.

But with a potent 1-2 punch from out West (San Antonio followed by Oklahoma City) invading the TD Garden this week, it's hard to imagine Boston's focus will totally shift on one and not both of their next opponents.

Moments after Boston's 103-83 loss at Detroit on Sunday, this became abundantly clear in the Celtics' post-game comments.

"This is one of those games you just throw away; don't even look back at it," said Boston's Paul Pierce. "And just move on from it. We got a couple day's rest. We got two great teams coming into our building, so hopefully we can get back on track and get some good wins at home."

And while Boston clearly recognizes the quality of opponents that will be coming into town this week, their focus for the next two games isn't any different than it would be for any other regular season matchups.

"We're going to take (today) off and do very little on Tuesday," Rivers said. "That's why I always tell you guys, you want to win every game. But you can't. You can learn a little from all these games. But it's not like this is a playoff game coming up on Wednesday and we would be practicing hard, you know what I mean?"

Considering the Celtics just completed what will arguably be the most physically and mentally challenging portion of their schedule -- seven games in 10 days -- Rivers plans to give his team as much rest as possible heading into this two-game set of talented teams coming to town.

"When you come off this kind of stretch, and you go into these two games with fatigue, you just have to be very careful," Rivers said. "We're going to do something Tuesday, but it's not going to be a lot of work."

In addition to preparing to do battle against two of the NBA's top teams, the C's are also battling the fatigue that comes with having so many games so close behind one another.

"Our guys, half of them . . . are sick, half of them are tired," Rivers said.

Rivers got a call on Sunday morning from team trainer Ed Lacerte who informed Rivers that, the C's had "six guys with head colds and not feeling good."

Rivers added: "That's probably because of the stretch, in and out of weather and all that."

The schedule will indeed soften up in terms of travel this week.

But the caliber of opponents? Major upgrade.

And it doesn't matter which team is on the docket first. Because for this week, taking things "one game at a time" is not an option, not with a talented San Antonio team serving as the opening act for the NBA Finals runner-up Oklahoma City Thunder less than 48 hours later.

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

BOSTON – The Bruins simply weren’t ready to play on Thursday night when the puck was dropped against the Colorado Avalanche at TD Garden. 

They fell down quickly by a 2-0 score, had a couple of completely inept power plays in the first period that sucked all the game’s momentum away from them and received some subpar goaltending from Anton Khudobin on the way to a 4-2 loss to the lowly Avs. About the only B’s person above reproach in this one was David Pastrnak after scoring a pair of goals in the second period to get Boston back into the game, but it all fell short in a very frustrating, lackadaisical loss to a Western Conference team that isn’t very good. 

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Needless to say B’s coach Claude Julien wasn’t too happy after a loss where the Bruins might have had more success with a smarter approach to holding the puck. 

“There were a lot of problematic things [in the loss]. No doubt that the power play could have helped us in the first period, and failed to do that. They’ve got to be better,” said Julien. “We needed some saves tonight, and we didn’t get them. [Anton Khudobin] has got to be better. 

“A lot of things here that we can be better at, and take responsibility [for]. But at the same time, you got to move on here.  It’s one of those nights that had we been smarter from the get go, we would have had a chance.”

Clearly it was about a lacking group effort when dissecting the loss, and the minus-3 for David Krejci on Thursday night marked back-to-back negative performances from the playmaking Czech center in big spots. The goaltending was shoddy with Anton Khudobin allowing four goals on 22 shots for Colorado, and unable to make plays on a couple of Colorado shots from outside the painted area that built up the Avs lead in the first place. 

But it was also very much about the inability of the Bruins to generate consistent offense outside of David Pastrnak’s offensive burst in the second period, and the complete breakdown of the Boston power play in the opening 20 minutes. The Bruins struggled to enter the zone in their first PP possession of the game, and then allowed a Nathan MacKinnon shorthanded goal after Torey Krug futilely dove at the blue line to try and keep the puck in the offensive zone. 

The Krug misplay at the offensive blue line gave MacKinnon a clear path the net, and he buried a wrist shot past Khudobin to get the one-sided loss rolling. Beyond the costly mistakes that ended up in the back of the net, the Bruins looked sloppy and slow-reacting in their breakouts and more than willing to settle for outside perimeter shots.

That doesn’t exactly make for a winning combo even when it comes against a flawed, underachieving team like Colorado, and especially when it comes less than 24 hours after a hard-fought road game in Washington DC. 

“I think we were still sleeping there early in the game and they were able to capitalize on their opportunities. We couldn’t claw our way back,” said Brad Marchand, who picked up an assist on David Pastrnak’s second goal of the night on a perfect dish for the one-timer. “I think it was definitely a mental [block]. You’re able to battle through that physical fatigue. It was more the mental mistakes and not being prepared right off the hop of the start of the game. Again, that’s kind of where we lost it.”

The sleepwalking Bruins lost Thursday night’s valuable two points as soon as the opening puck was dropped against the Avalanche, of course, and the Bruins never got out of lollygag mode at a time when intensity should have been automatic. 

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Chiefs hold off Raiders 21-13 to take control of AFC West

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THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Chiefs hold off Raiders 21-13 to take control of AFC West

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Tyreek Hill had touchdowns receiving and on a punt return, Kansas City's defense made life miserable for Oakland quarterback Derek Carr, and the Chiefs beat the Raiders 21-13 on a frigid Thursday night to take control of the AFC West.

Charcandrick West also had a touchdown run for the Chiefs (10-3). They moved into a first-place tie with Oakland (10-3) but holds the tiebreaker with two wins over their longtime divisional rival.

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