Rivers: Holiday a 'dangerous' player

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Rivers: Holiday a 'dangerous' player

PHILADELPHIA Jrue Holiday is not a household name when you talk about the top point guards in the NBA.

But there's at least one coach - Boston Celtics czar Doc Rivers - who could envision that changing soon.

Holiday comes into tonight's game averaging 18.2 points and 9.3 assists - both career highs.

Rivers has seen Holiday's game evolve on several levels, none being more apparent than his scoring ability.

"His shot set him free," Rivers said. "He struggled early on, inconsistent ... people were going under on all his pick and rolls."

But since he began making that shot - similar to what Rajon Rondo has done this season - Holiday has emerged as one of the top up-and-coming players in the East.

"His shot is what allowed him to see the floor more, and makes him so much more dangerous," Rivers said.

But aside from the talent, Rivers believes his most endearing quality is his toughness.

"He comes in to compete, every night," Rivers said. "That doesn't mean a perfect game, but he's a tough guard for us and everyone. He's stronger; you can visually see that. He's just a tough kid, really good player, an all-star player."

Rivers added that as Holiday's game has expanded, so has the way in which the Celtics - and all teams for that matter - prepare to face him.

But Rivers didn't need to see him have a breakout season like this to know that he's a player the Celtics have to concern themselves with tonight.

The approach to dealing with him now is no different than it was when these two met in the playoffs last season.

"We believed in him last year," Rivers said.

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

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Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious.