Celtics nearly blow 20-point lead in win over Cavaliers


Celtics nearly blow 20-point lead in win over Cavaliers

BOSTON -- The game looked like it was over with still a quarter to go.  
The Boston Celtics led the Cleveland Cavaliers 78-59 when Pierce went to the bench with 3:42 left in the third. He had scored 32 points in just 25 minutes and helped build a lead that looked to be enough to sustain them for the rest of the night. A minute later, the Celtics went up by a game-high 20 points. Leading 80-60 with 3:16 remaining in the quarter, the Cs were in command.
And then it all stopped. 
The Cavaliers closed the quarter on a 12-2 run to cut the Celtics edge to just ten points entering the fourth. Three minutes into the fourth, the Celtics lead was down to two points, 82-80. Within a matter of minutes, they had gone from a team poised to snap a three-game skid to a club on the verge of blowing a substantial lead. 
"Honestly, our bench came in and didn't give us a lift, and they were fantastic in the first half," said Doc Rivers. "We still haven't sustained a 48-minute game. We had that one stretch, we have to get better."
Rivers started Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee, Leandro Barbosa along with Kevin Garnett in the fourth. By the nine-minute mark, he had subbed starters Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Jason Terry, and Jason Collins back into the game. The Cavs were able to chip away their deficit to only two points with the starters on the court before they pushed the lead back up to four, six, eight, eventually double digits to win, 103-91.
"We had a 20-point lead," said Rivers. "You sub in, I think guys think when you have the lead it's scoring time now. It's really defensive time. You've got to continue to get stops, then you can score. I thought we short-cutter that part of it."
By the end of the game, it was Cavs head coach Byron Scott who was looking at the comeback from the losing perspective.
"They're a very good basketball team, a lot of experience," Scott said of the Celtics. "Theyve got a lot of guys over there that are champions. I thought that when we got within four to six points, we turned it over. It showed the difference between experience against youth. We turned it over turned it over turned it over, they come down get the shot they wanted, knocked down three in a row, lead got back to double digits. So in that scenario, again, weve got to learn from that. Weve got to find a way to close games. And as young as we are, weve just got to keep learning from it."
After nearly losing a 20-point lead, the Celtics had a lot to learn from this game, too. 

Haggerty: Subban looking more like a 1st-round bust than NHL goalie

Haggerty: Subban looking more like a 1st-round bust than NHL goalie

BOSTON, Mass – Malcolm Subban says that he believes that he can still be a No. 1 goaltender in the NHL.

While that’s admirable on some level for the sheer, brazen self-confidence involved in saying this after getting yanked from a 5-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild at TD Garden, pretty much all of the evidence points out the contrary. Nearly two years after getting pulled from his NHL debut in against the St. Louis Blues after giving up three goals on six shots, Subban was pulled from Tuesday night’s appearance after giving up three goals on eight second period shots with the Bruins desperately in need of a quality start in goal.

He maintained a defiantly confident tone after another humbling NHL effort against Minnesota, and that’s a testament to the maturity and mental toughness of the person behind the goalie mask.

“It sucks. Obviously, I’m just trying to finish the game, let alone win one. Obviously it sucks, but what can you do now, right?” said Subban, who has now allowed six goals on 22 career shots faced in two starts. “Obviously I want to be a number one goaltender in the league. I was a high pick for a reason. I have the potential, and I just have to show it. Obviously I haven’t done that so far yet, but I think I’m getting closer to it. Honestly, I think I can do it right now. I just got to show it. Obviously, I didn’t [do it] today, but tomorrow’s a new day.”

Given the stunningly bad quality of his two NHL starts combined with a thoroughly pedestrian body of work at the AHL level over the last three years, there is literally zero tangible evidence Subban is tracking to be a franchise goaltender. Instead he’s the emergency goaltender called on by the Bruins only after Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin have both been shelved by injuries, and he’s now flunked the two pop quizzes when the NHL team needed him to come through.

Meanwhile, a sizeable selection of goaltenders taken after him in the 2012 NHL Draft class have already proven their NHL worth and broken through at the elite level: Matt Murray, Frederik Anderson, Connor Hellebuyck and Joonas Korpisalo.

Subban was hoping all along to break through this season in Boston, but things went south on him quickly with a Bruins team not playing well in front of him. The first goal was a fluttering Charlie Coyle shot that trickled between his glove hand and the top of his leg pad. The third goal was a softie low and to the glove side, power play strike authored by Ryan Suter. It added up to poor goaltending and shoddy defense, but it also added up to a Bruins goaltender that didn’t even give his hockey club a chance to win.

“It could be a combination of both. There are some goals – I’m not going to lie – there are some goals that we thought our goaltenders should have had. But I’m not here to talk about a goaltender who’s in one of his first few games because he let in a couple of bad goals,” said Julien. “We were terrible in front of him and we weren’t any better, and that’s the big picture. That’s more important.

“I don’t care who’s in net. I think when you have some injuries you need to be better in those situations and we weren’t good enough tonight. It doesn’t matter if Tuukka [Rask] is in net and we had injuries up front, or we’re lacking players here or there. You’ve got to let the system take care of the game. If you play it the right way, you have a chance to win. When you don’t, you don’t. That’s what happened [against Minnesota].”

There’s no question the defense in front of Subban wasn’t nearly good enough, and Adam McQuaid and Torey Krug in particular struggled to lock things down in the defensive zone. The wide open shots from the slot - like the Chris Stewart score in the second period that arrived 12 seconds after Minnesota’s opening goal - are indicative of a hockey club that’s not sticking to the game plan once things start to get a little wonky.

But this is about a player in Subban that should be entering the NHL stage of his career after being a first round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, and anybody would be hard-pressed to see him as an NHL goalie after failing in each of his first two NHL starts. Combine that with the lack of dominance at the AHL level over the last three years, and there’s a better chance that Subban will be a major first round bust for the Bruins rather than suddenly develop into a late-blooming No. 1 goaltender in Boston.

The scary part is that Subban and fellow young netminder Zane McIntyre are all the Bruins have for Wednesday night’s game at Madison Square Garden, and perhaps longer than that if Rask can’t make rapid progress with his lower body injury.

Maybe Subban can be a bit better than he’s shown thus far, and the four goals allowed to Minnesota were not all his fault. The bottom line, however, is that Subban should be up for doing this job right now. Tuesday was a big chance for the young goalie to make a statement that he was ready for it.

Instead he looked like the same goalie that’s been pulled from two of his first four AHL starts this season, and plays like a goaltender that’s never going to truly be ready for the call in Boston.