Warsofsky to open season with Bruins

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Warsofsky to open season with Bruins

Throughout Bruins training camp all of the rookie chatter has been about 19-year-old defenseman Dougie Hamilton, but it looks like there will be another freshman blueliner when the NHL season opens on Saturday.

Former Boston University standout and Marshfield native David Warsofsky survived a round of Thursday camp cuts that saw fellow P-Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski get sent back to the AHL club. Veteran defenseman Aaron Johnson was also shipped to the AHL for a conditioning assignment after not playing for the last four months through the lockout.

So it appears the 5-foot-9, 170-pound Warsofsky has made the Bruins roster based on his puck-moving skill and the ideal in-game conditioning that had him ready to start the season.

Theres definitely a difference between being in shape and being in game shape, and having 30 games under my belt definitely helped me out, said Warsofsky, who was in his third season playing for the Providence Bruins. 

Players in Europe or at the AHL level had a distinct advantage over fellow skaters that have been gathering rust on the sidelines for the last four months, and Warsofsky impressed Bruins officials with nine points (2 goals, 7 assists) in 30 AHL games while logging heavy minutes lugging the puck for Providence.

Bruins coach Claude Julien indicated that it was a close competition between Warsofsky and Bartkowski before the latter was sent down to the P-Bruins to continue his work as a stay-at-home defenseman. 

There wasnt a big difference between the guys that went down and Warsofsky. Obviously with Johnson we need him to play some games before we can make an assessment on him, said Julien. David has played well, but so has Bartkowski. I can honestly say it could have gone either way.

Right now its a matter of keeping seven defensemen here and making sure that we have the guys in Providence available. Warsofsky isnt here by fluke. Hes had a great year and played well in Providence, and hes got a year under his belt so he knows how to handle himself against the professional competition. He played well against us in the Tuesday night scrimmage. He moves the puck well, is pretty smart with his decision-making and is quick and shifty on his skates with a good shot. Hes got a lot of skills.

For a kid that grew up a bona fide hockey fanatic on the South Shore of Boston in Marshfield, Warsofsky sounded pretty excited about suiting up for the Black and Gold as their extra defenseman.

Its definitely exciting for me growing up here and kind of cheering for the Bruins, so its definitely a dream come true. Im looking forward to the opportunity of being a part of it, said Warsofsky, who arrived in Boston in a draft-day deal with the St. Louis Blues for Vladimir Sobotka three years ago.

Dont be surprised if Warsofskys name pops up in trade rumors soon after his arrival on the Bruins scene, particularly if injuries along the blueline open up some playing time for him to showcase his abilities.

Across the league teams are looking for spare defensemen in deals, and going eight or nine deep on the blueline while planning on injuries taking a bite out of their organizational depth. So NHL-caliber defensemen have rising value on a developing trade market, and Warsofsky might be better served on an NHL team where some open roster spots are up for grabs.

Either way he's getting his shot to establish himself in the NHL, and that's also a local hockey product could ask for.

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."

Stars, studs and duds: Lillard steps up in second half, overtime

Stars, studs and duds: Lillard steps up in second half, overtime

BOSTON – Saturday was yet another night when the opposing team – this time it was the Portland Trail Blazers – that up the Boston Celtics with an avalanche of points that ended in a 127-123 overtime loss.

And yet through the rubble of all those lay-ups and put-back baskets and mid-range jumpers, Stevens saw something he has not seen in a while – hope that better days defensively were coming sooner rather than later.

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“As crazy as it sounds with them scoring (127) … I actually thought we were a lot closer to defending the way we want to defend," said Stevens. "I thought we were really locked into those guards, and I thought we tried to make it as tough as possible. Those guys are really good players, obviously, but I thought, I thought we did a lot of good things in that regard.”

For the most part, Boston and Portland played a relatively even game that wasn’t decided until the final minute of overtime.

“They just made more plays down the stretch,” said Boston’s Al Horford.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Saturday’s game.

 

STARS

C.J. McCollum

He tends to get second billing to Damian Lillard, but he was a first rate problem for the Celtics. He led the Blazers with 35 points on 11-for-21 shooting.

Damian Lillard

After a foul-troubled first half, Lillard stepped up like the All-Star he is in the second half to finish with 28 points and seven assists which included seven of Portland’s 14 points in overtime.

Isaiah Thomas

It was another dynamic scoring night for Thomas, finishing with a game-high 41 points which included 21 in the fourth quarter and overtime.


STUDS

Terry Rozier

Making the most of his chance to play due to injuries and illnesses, Rozier came up with a number of big shots all night. He finished with 15 points which included a 3-pointer with 8.4 seconds in the fourth that forced overtime.

Mason Plumlee

In addition to doing a solid job protecting the rim, Plumlee also tallied a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds while dishing out a game-high eight assists.

Meyers Leonard

Easily the big X-factor of the game, Leonard had 17 points off the bench on 6-for-7 shooting.

 

DUDS

Celtics Turnovers

This is the one area where the Celtics have been really good all season. Saturday? Not so much. Boston turned the ball over a season-high 21 times which accounted for 34 points for the Blazers.