Chiarelli, Julien getting 'impatient' for an NHL season

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Chiarelli, Julien getting 'impatient' for an NHL season

SAUGUS Claude Julien and Peter Chiarelli have both been through the drill before.

The Bruins head coach was serving in the same capacity for the Montreal Canadiens during the 2004-05 NHL lockout, and Chiarelli has lived through three work stoppages along the way as a player agent (1994-95), an assistant general manager (2004-05) and finally as the GM of the Bs this season.

Chiarelli and Julien have kept busy by traveling to Niagara and Belleville to check out Dougie Hamilton and Malcolm Subban and making themselves regular attendees at Providence Bruins practices and games. But just like everybody else both GM and coach are waiting impatiently through the peaks and valleys of the CBA negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA.

So on Thursdays deadline set by the NHL to save an 82-game schedule beginning on Nov. 2, Chiarelli was hoping for the best while bracing for another potential flat-line in negotiations. The worst: no conversations will pass before the end of business on Thursday and then the NHL will be expected to cut a significant portion of the regular season schedule a month or more on Friday.

Its a hockey bummer, of course, but one that Chiarelli is advising all of his employees to ride through.

Im not used to being on the sidelines and watching. I obviously respect the two parties greatly and know theyre trying to get something done here, said Chiarelli, who along with Julien dropped in on a Mens League game at Hockey Town USA on Wednesday night as part of efforts to stay involved with the community during the lockout. I told all my scouts not to get too high or too low with all of the media stuff and false starts. Of course, Im finding myself getting too high and too low.

Im a little impatient, bored and frustrated . . . all of that stuff. But theyll figure it out.

Julien meanwhile was at the helm of the Habs franchise when the NHL lost a year in 2004-05, and was actually fresh off a dispatching of the Bruins during the previous springs Stanley Cup playoffs. The Bs coach learned some level of patience by sitting out an entire hockey season, but wasnt eager for hockey history to repeat itself again this season.

Julien is still optimistic that wont happen.

Having gone through it before, I know the stages that you through . . . but it wont make things any better. Im like everybody else that Im anxious to get it going. Its out of my control. Were stuck in the middle and just trying to prepare as best we can, said Julien. We want to be ready yesterday. If it starts then well be ready to go. Theres no doubt about that. That keeps you motivated, but theres an empty dressing room that we hope fills up soon.

Im still very optimistic that theres going to be a season. I continue to think that way. There are times when you get more excited that you hear news, and then the next day it kind of gets thrown out the window. But in my mind Im staying as ready as I can be because Im a believer there will be a season.

So both Julien and Chiarelli will wait patiently through the NHLs Thursday deadline to start the regular season on Nov. 2, and keep an ear to the ground for the next piece of heartening news amid a disheartening lockout. Perhaps it will be next week or next month, but both members of the Bruins organization feel its coming this season eventually.

Sixers' success against C's defense shows Boston still has room to grow

Sixers' success against C's defense shows Boston still has room to grow

Avery Bradley was a member of the NBA’s All-Defensive first team a year ago. And Al Horford has been among the league’s best interior defenders for a number of years.

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But as talented defensively as they may be, the Celtics are still learning how to play with each other as well as off of one another.

Injuries have slowed down the chemistry developing as quickly as some might expect. Horford missed nine games due to a concussion, and another game due to wife giving birth to their second child, Alia Horford.

And in Boston’s 107-106 win over Philadelphia on Saturday night, defensive chemistry -- not only among Horford and Bradley, but with all of the players -- remains a work in progress for sure.

Boston had a number of defensive issues in the first half which factored in the Sixer shooting 46.1 percent from the field while shooting 9-for-18 from 3-point range.

But the second half was an entirely different story as Boston’s defense picked up his intensity and focus level which would prove to be just enough to beat a scrappy Sixers team.

The Celtics (12-8) are four games over .500 for the first time this season currently have the third-best record in the Eastern Conference behind Cleveland (13-5) and Toronto (14-6). 

And while the players point to a handful of games that they felt they gave away, Avery Bradley reminds all that the success of this team this season has for the most part come with key players out of the mix or limited in some capacity.

“We haven’t played that many games with the full roster,” Bradley told reporters after the win. “We’re still learning how to play with each other.”

Bradley pointed out a moment in Saturday’s victory where a miscommunication between him and Horford led to a defensive miscue.

Boston has had similar mistakes made on offense this season, too.

“We haven’t really been in pick-and-roll that much,” Bradley said. “Every single game we need to improve.”

And that improvement has to continue evolving on the defensive side of things for this team to achieve its goals this season which include being among the last teams standing in the East.

Doing that will likely mean Boston re-establishing itself as a defensive force, something that should come with time and experience playing with each other.

Horford, who signed a four-year, $113 million deal with Boston in the offseason, says it’s an ongoing process for all involved.

“I have to learn to play with our concepts, the guys have to learn to play with me,” Horford told reporters after Saturday’s win. “We just have to make sure we keep playing the right way, be more consistent with that. I feel like we’re getting better but there’s still some work that we need to do.”

Stars, studs and duds: Thomas churns out another strong fourth quarter performance

Stars, studs and duds: Thomas churns out another strong fourth quarter performance

The pressure that comes with a tight game in the fourth quarter can be a weighty proposition for some NBA players.

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Then there’s Boston’s Isaiah Thomas who continues to save his best work for the fourth quarter.

Saturday’s 107-106 win at Philadelphia had yet another Thomas-like finish for the Celtics as the 5-foot-9 guard was at his most dominant state in the game’s final minutes.

Thomas finished with a season high-tying 37 points which included a stretch in the fourth in which he scored 12 straight.

“I just love the fourth quarter,” Thomas told reporters following the win. “I just want to win. Whether it’s making plays for myself or making plays for my teammates, it’s about making the right play. I get ultra- aggressive in that fourth quarter. That’s what I’ve always done.”

And his teammates appreciate how Thomas elevates his play in the game’s most pivotal moments.

“A lot of the credit is to Isaiah, how he was able to finish the game tonight,” said Avery Bradley. “He was able to make shots when we needed him to.”

And while Thomas knows his shots won’t fall all the time down the stretch, his fourth quarter mentality does provide him with a level of confidence that no matter what the defense does to him or what the score may be, he can swing the game’s momentum in his team’s favor.

“Some guys get a little tight, they get a little timid (in the fourth quarter),” Thomas said. “I embrace it. I want to be great. I want to be somebody my teammates can call on when the game is close.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Saturday night’s game.

STARS

Isaiah Thomas: There was no more dominant player on Saturday night than Thomas. He finished with a game-high 37 points along with seven assists.

Dario Saric: It was a breakout game for the 22-year-old rookie who led the Sixers with 21 points as well as 12 rebounds for his third double-double this season. Both his points and rebound totals tied his career highs in those categories.

STUDS

Avery Bradley: Boston’s surge towards victory did not kick in until the third quarter which is when Bradley elevated his play offensively. In the third he scored 10 of his 20 points on the night, to go along with a team-high nine rebounds.

Ersan Illyasova: He finished with 18 points which included a pair of three-pointers in the closing seconds of the game. He also grabbed six rebounds and two assists.

DUDS

Celtics first half defense: There wasn’t much to like about Boston defensively in the first half. The Celtics struggled to take away or limit Philadelphia’s only strength Saturday night which was three-point shooting. The Sixers nailed nine of their 18 three-point attempts in the first half in addition to hurting the Celtics’ transition defense which gave up seven fast-break points to Philly compared to Boston scoring just one point in transition.