Celtics-Wizards review: Bench lacking in win

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Celtics-Wizards review: Bench lacking in win

WASHINGTON - Boston's ballyhooed second unit once again came up short.

But unlike the first two games - both Celtics losses - their lack of offensive punch would not be the C's downfall as Boston held on for an 89-86 win over the Wizards.

Even though Boston's backups were outscored by a decisive 62-27, a number of the second unit players came up with big plays down the stretch.

Jason Terry, the leader of Boston's second unit, had just eight points on 2-for-8 shooting. But he had a critical steal down the stretch in addition to a pair of free throws for the game's final points.

Still, the second unit remains in a state of influx as Doc Rivers continues to search out combinations that will work.

"We've just got to find the right group of guys," Rivers said. "Not only just the starters, I'm actually not as concerned with the starters. I'm far more concerned with the second unit. We've got to find a consistent second lineup."

The play of Boston's backups was among the factors that played a role in Saturday's game against Washington. Here are some other keys identified prior to the game, and how they actually played out.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Boston has looked too often for points from the perimeter. Saturday's game should see a heavy dose of Kevin Garnett in the paint, and the Celtics guards attacking the basket.

WHAT WE SAW: Garnett was a much more effective player around the basket, and the C's for the most part made getting him the ball a priority. He finished with 15 points on 7-for-15 shooting along with seven rebounds.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Paul Pierce vs. Trevor Ariza: The Captain got into early foul trouble, and never found his stride in the loss to Milwaukee. Look for Pierce to come out aggressive offensively which should set the tone for a big night.

WHAT WE SAW: Not. Even. Close. Pierce took over, and Ariza was simply taken out of anything that resembled effective play. The Captain tallied a game-high 27 points on 10-for-22 shooting while Ariza  was scoreless on 0-for-4 shooting.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Jared Sullinger looked a lot like the Sullinger folks saw in the preseason, in the loss to Milwaukee. With Washington having a more traditional frontcourt, Sully should pick up right where he left off against the Bucks.

WHAT WE SAW: C's coach Doc Rivers tossed Sullinger into the starting lineup, and the rookie responded with a decent night, scoring four points but more important, grabbing seven rebounds.

STAT TO TRACK:  Boston hasn't been a very good offensive rebounding team, but they have to do a better job of limiting the second and third chances that they give opponents. Milwaukee had 11 offensive rebounds on Friday. Although they only generated 13 second-chance points, that doesn't factor how those possessions takes away from Boston's chances to score. Keeping the offensive rebound total given up in the low single digits would do wonders for both the C's struggling offense and out-of-synch defense.

WHAT WE SAW: Boston gave up seven offensive rebounds to the Wizards, but it didn't make much of a dent on a night when the C's defense was in back-in-the-day-mode with a four straight defensive stops to end the game. Those second-chance opportunities only netted Washington five points. Meanwhile, the Celtics had six offensive rebounds but generated 11 points off of them.

Collins, Hightower mum on contract talks

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Collins, Hightower mum on contract talks

FOXBORO – A fleet of Patriots have expiring contracts after this season but Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins are the two most prominent on that list.

With the sport being the way it is – a nearly 100-percent casualty rate every season – it’s never comfortable for a player to enter a contract year without knowing his long-term future. And it’s especially uncomfortable for players whose first contracts are expiring because the second NFL contract is usually the bonanza.

Both Hightower and Collins can entertain thoughts of contracts worth more than $50M if good fortune sticks with them.

The question as it pertains to both of these players is whether they get contract extensions this summer or whether they go into the year with contract pressure bearing down and ultimately become free agents.

Neither player was very forthcoming after their OTA practice Thursday.

With Collins, that’s often the case. He’s never been expansive with media. It was very uncharacteristic for Hightower to be so clipped in his answers, though.

Every question posed to Hightower was met with a variation of, “I’m just trying to get better.”

Asked about his contract, Hightower replied, “I ain’t got nothing to do with none of that. I’m just out here trying to get better with my teammates.”

When it was pointed out that Hightower does indeed have say on his contract, he answered, “That might be. But there’s a time and place for everything and I’m just out here trying to get better.

“If I get better I feel like that’ll take care of everything else,” he added. “If I get better each and every day that’s all I can ask for.”

Asked whether he’s at all focused on his deal, Collins replied, “No, I come out here and I handle my business and I let the rest speak for itself … My first priority is me. So I’m gonna handle me."
 

Thursday's Red Sox-Rockies lineup: Bradley moved to the leadoff spot

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Thursday's Red Sox-Rockies lineup: Bradley moved to the leadoff spot

BOSTON -- Jackie Bradley Jr. has been inching his way up the lineup recently, but tonight he makes a quantum leap all the way to the top.

With Mookie Betts getting the night off, Bradley -- riding a 29-game hitting streak -- has been moved to the leadoff spot by John Farrell as the Red Sox attempt to complete a three-game sweep of the Rockies.

Dustin Pedroia (hamstring) and Xander Bogaerts (thumb) both had to leave Wednesday night's game, but both are back in the lineup tonight.

The lineups:

ROCKIES:
Charlie Blackmon CF
DJ LeMahieu 2B
Nolan Arenado 3B
Carlos Gonzalez RF
Mark Reynolds 1B
Gerardo Parra LF
Trevor Story SS
Daniel Descalso DH
Dustin Garneau C
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Jon Gray P

RED SOX:
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Travis Shaw 3B
Chris Young RF
Blake Swihart LF
Christian Vazquez C
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Clay Buchholz P