Milicic waiting for his chance to contribute to Celtics

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Milicic waiting for his chance to contribute to Celtics

CHICAGO The preseason brought with it such promise for Darko Milicic.

The former No. 2 overall pick in 2003 seemed to have finally found a place where he could have a meaningful role and compete for a championship.

Of all the preseason developments for Boston, the potential impact that he can make both as a shot-blocker and a passer out of the post, stood out.

But that promise appears to be nothing more than that as Milicic finds himself in a familiar place right now -- on the Celtics bench.

Through seven games in Boston, Milicic's career with the Celtics consists of one appearance of less than five minutes.

In the past, Milicic would have sulked or complained about his predicament. But today, he seems to better understand that his time to help the Celtics may not come as quickly as he would like it to. And there is a consensus among the C's and Milicic that sooner or later, an opportunity for him to contribute will manifest itself.

"I just have to stay ready," Milicic told CSNNE.com recently. "Just be ready to play when I get my chance. That's all I can do."

Although the right wrist injury Milicic suffered was indeed a setback for him, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said his health isn't the reason why he has played so sparingly.

"Other guys are just playing better right now," Rivers said matter-of-factly. "Darko will help us at some point this year. Jason (Collins) absolutely will help us as well. You just can't play everybody."

To see big men sitting on the bench or not playing at all is becoming a common trend in the NBA this season.

In Boston's season-opener at Miami on October 30, the two Heat players that were inactive for that game were the Heat's only two true centers. Celtics rookie center Fab Melo has been inactive in all seven of the C's games this season.

Rivers has been among the many coaches who has found putting his best players on the floor often means going with a lineup that's smaller than the traditional five-man unit which typically includes one center.

And while the Celtics going with smaller lineups is the new norm in the NBA, there are still some teams that still stick with having a true center in the middle.

"I just think right now, it's like the NFL," Rivers said. "Some teams pass all the time. Some teams use the running back and even the fullback, which is unheard of these days. Our league is pretty much mirroring that a lot."

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

BOSTON -- With three crushing losses in a row at a time when results are really all that matters, the Boston Bruins are reeling at the wrong time during the regular season. The B’s tried their best to win a game 0-0 with strong defense against a sleepy Chicago Blackhawks bunch on Friday night, but ultimately coughed up a Marian Hossa goal in the final minutes for a 1-0 regulation loss at TD Garden.

The defeat continued a swirl downward for the Black and Gold over the last week, and was a second straight shutout loss on home ice for the first time in almost 15 years. The losing stretch has also kicked up the chatter that Claude Julien is in trouble as head coach of the Bruins, and the hockey club’s underperformance up and down the lineup is ultimately going to cost the NHL’s longest tenured bench boss his job.

The Ottawa Senators have passed the Bruins in the Atlantic Division, and it’s only a matter of time before the Toronto Maple Leafs move by them as well with both Toronto and Ottawa holding six games in hand on Boston. Combine all of this with the B’s having missed the playoffs in each of the previous two seasons leading into this one, and it shouldn’t be at all surprising that Julien is squarely on the coaching hot seat.

The B’s bench boss was asked about his job security after the Chicago loss, and clearly didn’t appreciate the tough, but appropriate question.

“Well, I’m not into shock-journalism,” said Julien in a prideful tone. “So I’ll stay away from that question if you don’t mind.”

The Bruins posted their Saturday schedule shortly after Julien and the B’s players had addressed the media following the loss, and sure enough the embattled coach is scheduled to address the media post-practice as part of the regular practice day routine. So it doesn’t seem that a move with Julien is imminent this weekend despite another loss, but both the coach and the players know something is going to happen to shake things up with this team if they continue to struggle.

“Right now it’s a results based situation, so if you’re going to keep losing games then probably something’s going to happen,” said Torey Krug. “But right now we’re just pretty down emotionally after this game, so I don’t want to look at the big picture. I just [want to] focus on what’s going on in this room, and hopefully we can come back with a good effort the next game.”

A good effort might help Julien’s standing with the Bruins in the short term, but it’s impossible to imagine the B’s bench boss making it through the rest of the Bruins regular season given all of things working against him right now.