Not quite all in

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Not quite all in

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

As the Bruins get ready for Game 7 at the Garden, theres a quiet confidence brewing in Boston.

And I mean really quiet.

Like the 18th green at Augusta. High tea at Buckingham Palace. An interview with Rajon Rondo.

But regardless of the decibel level, that confidence does exist. If you polled Bruins fans, I think a majority would still pick the Bs to win this series. Whether theyre making that decision with their heart or their head, it doesnt matter. Boston believes the Bruins can do it.

Its just that no one wants to talk about it.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column where I called the Bruins the team that time forgot. Basically, that as the lone team without a parade during Bostons stretch of success, the Bruins are still treated with our old-school mentality. Back when you always anticipated the worse, and the idea of winning was always overshadowed by the fear of losing (again).

So when it comes to games like tonights against the Lightning, it gets a little weird. Theres confidence, yes. Theres no reason to believe this team cant go out there and win.

But theres also no reason to believe they will.

They havent earned that yet. There's no Bruins Swagger amongst fans. You can never assume any kind of victory.

Instead, heading into Game 7, you cant help but consider what happens if they lose. Not only how horrendous youll feel, but: What will the team look like from here? Is Julien gone? Chiarelli? Will Seguin make The Leap? What if Thomas comes back to Earth?

Or most importantly, when will they ever be this close again? How long will it be until the Bruins are one away from the Stanley Cup Finals?

Thats hard to say. On one hand, this doesnt exactly feel like the start of the next NHL dynasty. On the other, who knows? Theyll still have talent. Anything can happen. And thats the mentality well have going into Game 7. Ready for anything.

A win, and I dont know. Its impossible to sit here today and imagine the Boston Bruins playing for the Stanley Cup. Ive lived here too long, and seen so much, that its literally impossible to fathom what it would feel like if the Bruins win tonight and move on to Vancouver. I mean, these are the Bruins!

Still, with a win, theyre only one step closer to the promise land. The toughest challenge still lies ahead.

But with a loss, the ladder snaps and the Bruins come tumbling down. The same place they started, except now the fans are in a little deeper, a little more jaded and less likely to ever believe that the Bruins will end this awful stretch.

But tonight, the belief is still there. Maybe that's the natural feeling when youve got home ice and the best goalie in the game, but when it comes to the Bruins, there's nothing natural about it.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to CSNNE.com about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”

Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?

Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.

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But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.

For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.

But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.

And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.

Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.

“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”

Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.

“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”

Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.

He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.

After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.

But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.

Rozier, in an interview with CSNNE.com, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.

But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.

Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.

Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.

“It’s big,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”

Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.

“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”

And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.

“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."