Reports: Winter Classic cancelled

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Reports: Winter Classic cancelled

Theres no Winter Classic.

Theres no 247: Road to the Winter Classic series for HBO.

Theres also no getting back to the point of no return for both the NHL and the NHLPA as fans are going to be pissed off no matter what happens from this point forth.

According to reports from both ESPN and the AP, the Jan. 1 Winter Classic match between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings at the Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan on the University of Michigan campus has been cancelled for the 2013-14 season.

The NHL later confirmed the Winter Classic cancellation in a release shortly after 3 p.m.

Reports also indicate the Wings and Leafs game will be set to play in the same setting on Jan. 1 2014 when 110,000 plus fans are expected to be part of the biggest hockey crowd in NHL history. The logistics and money involved with setting up the New Years Day game appear to be the two biggest culprits involved in the league cancelling the signature game, but it also appears to be a preemptive move to keep the WC from becoming a leverage point in negotiations.

The popularity, soaring TV ratings and marketing prowess of the Winter Classic game make it the NHL golden goose, and the league wasnt willing to compromise it given the unsure status of CBA talks.

For the players the Winter Classic only represented one out of 82 games on the schedule, but it was also a giant money-maker for the NHL when the league counts out the hockey-related revenue eventually divvied up between the players and the league. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told reporters on Thursday that negotiations will begin relatively near future with the NHLPA, and December games will be next on the chopping block.

While the Winter Classic cancellation means the NHL will end up losing the PR battle this season to an angry mob of fans, there are still believed to be a number of league scenarios for a shortened season. But one has to wonder at this point how quickly fans will return given the damage inflicted on the NHL product through 49 days of fruitless negotiations.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

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Celtics-Raptors preview: DeRozan, Lowry a challenge for Bradley, C's

Celtics-Raptors preview: DeRozan, Lowry a challenge for Bradley, C's

BOSTON – Avery Bradley doesn’t mind being a standout, but this is probably not what he had in mind. 

Injuries have ravaged the Boston Celtics’ starting five to the point where only one player, Bradley, has been with the first unit in all 22 games this season. 

Just like Bradley was looked upon to step his game up in the absence of Isaiah Thomas (right groin) at Orlando on Wednesday, he will once again be challenged to lead Boston (13-9) to victory tonight when the Thomas-less Celtics face the Toronto Raptors. 

Bradley’s emergence as a two-way talent this season has overshadowed at times what has been another season of elite play defensively. 

And he’ll need to be on top of his defensive game tonight against a Raptors All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. 

Both Lowry and DeRozan present a different kind of challenge for Bradley who will spend time defending each of them at various points during the game. 

Lowry has good size, strength and deceptive quickness in addition to an under-rated perimeter game that will keep Bradley on his toes for sure. 

This season he's averaging 20.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and a career-high 7.6 assists while shooting 42.9 percent on 3's which is also a career mark. 

And DeRozan is having the kind of season that might get him a few league MVP votes. 

His 28.0 points per game ranks fifth in the NBA, but making his numbers even more impressive is that unlike most guards DeRozan doesn’t generate much offense from three-pointers.

DeRozan averages 1.8 three-point attempts per game which is the fewest attempts among any player ranked among the league’s top-25 scorers.

The 6-foot-7 All-Star is the master of the mid-range game which accounts for 31.5 percent of the points he scores. And when he’s not shooting the mid-range, he’s working a defender in one-on-one iso-situations. 

That helps explain why 76.4 percent of his two-point made field goals are unassisted. 

But here’s the thing about Bradley. 

As much as we give him props for what he does defensively, it’s his offense that has put him on the map as a potential All-Star this season. 

Bradley is averaging a career-high 17.9 points while shooting 47.2 percent from the field. He’s also averaging a career-high 7.8 rebounds per game in addition to shooting a career-high 40.7 percent on 3's.

But for Bradley, individual accolades are only going to come his way by the Celtics winning games; preferably against above-average teams like the Toronto Raptors.

And that would make both Bradley and the Celtics stand out this season.