Celtics-Nets review: Boston's bench rises to occasion


Celtics-Nets review: Boston's bench rises to occasion

BROOKLYN, N.Y. For once, what's on paper actually played out in a game for the Boston Celtics.

Considered at the start of the season as having one of the best benches in the NBA, the C's second unit played a pivotal role in Boston's 93-76 win at Brooklyn.

The backups, led by Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger, were able to outscore their New Jersey brethren 43-21.

And it was Green and Sullinger leading the charge as they scored 15 and 16 points, respectively.

But more than the scoring, they did what all the great second units do - make an impact.

And while the points were certainly well received, they were able to help Boston control the game in other ways as well.

Courtney Lee had just two points, but his defense was part of a C's defensive unit that limited Brooklyn's Big Three of Gerald Wallace, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson to a combined 11-for-28 shooting from the field.

Green didn't hide the fact that there was added motivation to play well considering how the Celtics' second unit struggled in their last meeting with Brooklyn last month.

"Last game we played them, we were a non-factor," Green said. "So we wanted to come out and make it a point to let them know we're on the floor and be aggressive."

Boston's aggression was certainly a factor in Tuesday's win. Here are some other keys identified prior to today's game and how they actually played out as the C's defeated Brooklyn, 93-76, and are now tied with the Nets for the second-best record in the Atlantic Division.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Both Boston and Brooklyn have had their issues at times this season in limiting opponents to shooting a low percentage. Teams are shooting 45 percent against the C's this season which ranks 18th in field goal percentage defense. Nets' foes have connected on 45.9 percent of their shots which comes in at No. 24.

WHAT WE SAW: Brooklyn came out shooting the ball well (56.3 percent in the first quarter), but it was all Boston from that point on as the Celtics shot 52.8 percent from the field in the final three quarters of play compared to hitting just 41.7 percent of their shots in the first quarter.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Jason Collins vs. Brook Lopez: This is the kind of matchup that should validate why Collins is in the starting lineup. He's not going to outscore Lopez unless Lopez gets tossed in the game's first minute. But if Collins is doing his job, he'll be making it a lot tougher for Lopez who has averaged 16.5 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots while shooting 62.5 percent from the field against the C's this season.

WHAT WE SAW: Collins did his job as Lopez scored 15 points on 5-for-12 shooting with four turnovers. Meanwhile, Collins chipped in a little offensively with a season-high 4 points.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Jason Terry will surely have something to prove today. He is coming off a 1-for-15 shooting performance, the kind of game that he has bounced back from quickly. He has had four such games this season in which he made one field goal or less. In the four games to follow, Terry has shot 50 percent from the field (17-for-34) while averaging 11.5 points per game.

WHAT WE SAW: He didn't exactly set the world on fire, but there was little doubt that Terry was better - much better - than he was in the previous game. On Tuesday he had 11 points on 4-for-7 shooting which included three 3-pointers to go with four assists and a steal.

STAT TO TRACK: The 3-point shot has not been a weapon of choice by the Celtics who come in averaging 5.4 3s per game which ranks 28th in the league. They have been even worst in their two games against the Nets this season, connecting on 8 of their 20 3-point attempts. Boston's ability to hit the long ball will go far in their quest to defeat Brooklyn.

WHAT WE SAW: Boston did not launch many, but they were on the mark more often than not and a couple of the ones they hit, came at a time when the C's really needed a big shot. The Nets appeared to be taking a five-point lead into the second quarter when Rajon Rondo hit a last-second 3-pointer that made it a 24-22 game.

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally


Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious.