NHL, NHLPA continue to talk, need to get more serious

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NHL, NHLPA continue to talk, need to get more serious

Its high time that somebody makes a move.

The NHL and NHLPA have piled up the rhetoric and even made some egregious errors along the way. Florida Panthers forward Kris Versteeg can attest to after his embarrassingly inappropriate comments on Monday afternoon painting Gary Bettman and Bill Daly as league cancers that need to be cut out of the NHL. Theres simply no place for that kind of epic stupidity and ignorance in whats essentially a stone, cold business negotiation.

It's time to leave the schoolyard trash-talking crap behind, and make sure every move is one calculated toward forming an agreement with the NHL.

Its well established both sides think theyre in the right, and could prove how stubborn they are if it was merely all about digging their heels in to prove they were correct. But its not about that and its never been about that. Instead its always been about constructing an agreement that both sides can live with while making certain there is a 2012-13 NHL regular season.

With that in mind both sides put all the noise aside and met once again at the NHL offices on Monday evening. There were 18 players along with the Fehr brothers representing the NHLPA. A series of NHL owners led by Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs along with CBA negotiations newcomer Brian Burke filled out the league roster. Of course Gary Bettman and Bill Daly were on hand as well after a rough public relations week for them. The NHLs proposed two-week moratorium could have only been worse if Guy Fieri came up with the idea, and to make matters worse -- the full support of NHL ownership was brought into question in a story out of Philly that Flyers owner Ed Snider was souring on the lockout process.

With all of that new blood involved there was hope for some much-needed progress, and perhaps there will still be some in the following days. But on Monday the NHLPA had no formalized offer to hand over to the league, and instead the two sides spent over 90 minutes talking about concepts and ideas. The NHL wouldnt allow any discussion of player contract rights without an entire offer to pore through, and that didnt happen on Monday.

So with that in mind it appears the time has come to finally get serious about the season, and by connection get serious about an actual, real-life negotiation.

To this point both the NHL and the NHLPA have been more worried about revealing their respective poker hands than any actual concern about losing the entire regular season.

But the time for fun and games is over.

The players need to put their heads together and give the NHL something to chew on that can build a framework for deeper discussion leading to a finished document. That means agreement on a move to a 5050 split of revenue and a happy medium for the make whole provision that both sides can make peace with.

Most of the NHL players understand there is still going to be some level of escrow in the next CBA, but theyre looking to get the best deal possible. That means giving in on some portions of the even revenue split to get the NHL to bend on some of the player contract rights. The players should be willing to accept 6-7 year contract term limits and an elimination of the back-diving contracts, and its difficult to see exactly what they dont like about two-year entry level contracts.

By the same token the NHL should be willing to revert back to the 27 years oldseven years of service guidelines for unrestricted free agency that is understandably important to the players. One area that some players also said was a non-starter: including minor league contracts on the NHL salary cap that would force all AHL players into uniformly cheap deals. Thats an area that doesnt make sense to most NHL teams from a salary cap standpoint, and has rubbed many players the wrong way by squeezing the hard-working, honest players at the AHL level.

Those deals arent going to break the bank either way, and shouldnt be something that the season is lost over.  

Its the kind of compromise that should be happening if the two sides are negotiating, but the trust hasnt been there for a long enough durations of time through 65 days of the lockout. So now the ball is in the NHLPAs court. Theyve vowed all along how willing they were to continue negotiations and to keep talking through their differences, and thats allowed them to enjoy the upper hand in public opinion.

Now the NHLPA has been given a chance to put forth a proposal that could move both sides closer to a deal, and perhaps keep things on course for a Dec. 1 start to a shortened regular season. Indications were that the NHLPA was going to take until Wednesday to put together an offer they would present to NHL officials in New York City, and thats a good sign for everybody.

It would indicate Donald Fehr and the players are earnest in their desire to present something the league will move on.

But it will be an even better sign if both the NHL and NHLPA feel theres more to talk about after reconvening on TuesdayWednesday, and keep grinding toward a deal that should be eminently reachable.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Rockets

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Rockets

Tune into CSN to watch the Celtics play the Rockets in Houston. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by McDonald's on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

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Celtics-Rockets preview: Get ready for 3-point showdown

Celtics-Rockets preview: Get ready for 3-point showdown

Earlier this month the Boston Celtics took a season-high 42 three-pointers in a game which raised a few eyebrows. 

And you know what?

No one would be surprised if the Celtics (12-8) surpassed that total tonight when they face the Houston Rockets who have set the pace when it comes to launching 3-point bombs in the NBA this season with 37.0 attempts per game. 

The Celtics aren’t too far behind, averaging 30.8 three-pointers which ranks fifth in the NBA.

But what makes these two teams so unique is that in addition to taking a lot of 3s, they also rank among the NBA’s leaders when it comes to knocking them down. 

The Rockets (13-7) make an NBA-high 14.0 three-pointers per game while the Celtics are fifth in the league with 11.1 made 3s per game. 

And the key to that stat is that both teams shoot a surprisingly high percentage from 3-point range as well. 

Houston’s 37.8 percent from 3-point range is the fifth-best mark in the NBA while the Celtics shoot 36.0 percent on 3's which ranks 10th in the league. 

So what does all this 3-ball shooting mean? 

It means get your popcorn ready for what should be one of the more exciting, high-scoring games on the Boston Celtics’ schedule this season.

Here are some other key stats to keep tabs on during tonight’s game. 

 

FIRST QUARTER SCORING

There is no team in the NBA better at jumping on you from the outset, then Houston. They lead the NBA in first-quarter scoring with 31.2 points per game while shooting 51.9 percent in the quarter which is also tops in the NBA. But there’s a downside to their first quarter success. Houston’s first quarter defense is pretty bad, ranking 27th in the league in first-quarter points allowed (28.5) while allowing teams to shoot a league-worst 52.3 percent from the field in the game’s first 12 minutes. 

 

FOURTH QUARTER SCORING

As impressive as Houston is to start games, the Boston Celtics are just as dominant offensively in the fourth quarter. Boston averages a league-best 29.1 points per game in the fourth compared to the Rockets whose 24.4 points in the fourth ranks 21st in the NBA. Boston’s strong finish to games is aided by a defense that seems to save its best work for the fourth quarter. Opponents are shooting just 40.6 percent against the Celtics in the fourth which ranks as the third-best fourth quarter defense in the NBA.

 

OFFENSIVE REBOUND PERCENTAGE

Boston’s struggles on the boards are well documented which includes - but is certainly not limited to - offensive rebounding. The Rockets will present a major problem to Boston when it comes to trying to avoid Houston getting second and third-shot opportunities. The Rockets rank fifth in the NBA in second-chance points (15.3) per game while the Celtics’ defense allows 15.2 second-chance points which ranks 27th in the league. And Boston’s offensive rebounding percentage for opponents ranks dead-last in the NBA at .265.

 

BALL MOVEMENT

Both teams rank among the league leaders in assists per game with Boston’s 24.4 assists per game average No. 2 in the NBA and Houston’s 24.3 assists ranks fourth. But more telling is how the Celtics rely more heavily on keeping the ball moving, more so than the Rockets. You see this in Boston averaging 329.2 passes per game which ranks third in the NBA while the Rockets’ 273.5 passes per game average is 29th in the league. Still, Houston’s passing game is to be respected especially when you consider the lofty assists numbers they’ve racked up in addition to them getting 59.2 points created via the assist according to nba.com/stats

 

TURNOVERS

These two are at opposite ends of the basketball world when it comes to turnovers. Boston commits 12.3 per game which is the fourth-fewest committed in the NBA while the Rockets are turning the ball over 16.1 times per game and that ranks 27th in the league. And these two remain widely far apart in the fourth quarter which is when the Celtics turn the ball over a league-low 2.2 times per game in the fourth while Houston turns the ball more than twice as much (4.5) which ranks 29th in the league.