Bruins looking to pick up emotion in Washington

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Bruins looking to pick up emotion in Washington

WASHINGTON, D.C. The Bruins arent hunkered down in a bunker incapable of observing whats going on in the playoffs around them.

While the Penguins-Flyers and Senators-Rangers playoff series have been flowing with hatred from the drop of the first puck and they have the suspensions to show for it the Bruins know that goals arent the only things missing from their series with Washington.

Both the Bruins and Capitals have had brief dalliances with nastiness: Alex Ovechkin cross-checking Dennis Seidenberg in the face and Jay Beagle butt-ending David Krejci in the mouth off a center-ice face-off come to mind.

But the Bruins and Capitals seem to be on their best behavior for the most part, and that isnt necessarily playing to Bostons strength. The Bs have been renowned for their intimidating ways and ability to instill fear in their opponents.

Emotional catalysts in Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand both have been fairly quiet through the first two games of the series.

Claude Julien said hes watched many of the other games from a tactical standpoint and also from the standpoint of being a hockey fan. He admitted that perhaps the Bruins-Capitals has another notch it can reach in bone-rattling intensity.

This is a time of year where you watch everything you can. You stay up late at night watching because its interesting. You dont just watch it for reasons of homework. Its a great time of year to be watching hockey, said Julien. Obviously theres a lot of intensity in some of those series, and its about rivalries. It gets amped up to the point where its borderline with some of the rough stuff.

I tip my hat to the refs. When you watch from a spectators view then you see how tough it is. To come out there and try to identity who is shorthanded and who is a culprit isnt easy. I know that in some ways our series hasnt been as physical . . . it may or may not become that physical. But were aware that discipline is a big key in this series, and I think both teams understand that.

Krejci clearly has felt the intensity of the series. He got stitches above his mouth where Beagles stick ripped his face open, and that's not to mention the with a 120-pound pane of glass that bonked him on the head after Game One.

Now Krejci isn't one to really mix things up physically, but even he knows the Bruins can reach down for another level of emotion. He knows that some of the cute, soft forward play should transform into something much harder and more unforgiving.

I think its been intense. We try to put on the skates and go out there. Some series are tougher than others, but at the end of the day you want to get the win, said Krejci. You dont care how; you just dont get the results.

People talk a lot about the Philadelphia-Pittsburgh series and maybe theyre overlooking ours. Im sure there were some cheap things there, but whatever. Its playoff hockey and teams are doing whatever they can to be the winning team.

What the Bruins dont want is a repeat of three years ago. Boston couldnt get their hate on against the Carolina Hurricanes until it was too late in the series. Theres always appeared to be a blueprint for victory if an opponent can keep the sleeping Black and Gold giants from waking, and the Capitals are following that strategy to perfection while selling out for everything in the defensive zone.

With accusations that the Bruins are playing too cute and perhaps a tad soft in the offensive zone, there may not be much more Mr. Nice Guy coming from the Boston end of things as they enter a hostile environment on the road.

And thats a very good thing.

Fast-break points aren't necessarily a good thing for Celtics

Fast-break points aren't necessarily a good thing for Celtics

BOSTON – Conventional NBA wisdom tells you that getting out to score in transition is a good thing, usually serving as easy points scored, which is what every team wants, right?
 
But bundles of transition points have been nothing but trouble for the Celtics this season.
 
They are coming off a game against the New York Knicks in which they scored 22 fast-break points, which was their second-best showing this season. But the final score, a 117-106 loss, wasn’t all that unusual from what has happened this season when their transition game has generated a decent amount of scoring.
 
Boston has a 2-6 record this season when they score 16 or more fast-break points. On the nights when Boston’s fast-break offense generates 10 or fewer points?
 
They’re 11-5.
 
While there are several possible reasons why this is, here’s what you have to remember.
 
The Celtics are a ball-movement, 3-point shooting team.
 
Often that means they’ll pass up potential shots in transition, to instead work the ball around from one side of the floor to the other, until they get what they deem is the best shot to take (usually it’s a lightly contested to wide open 3-pointer).
 
The Celtics average 329.6 passes per game, which ranks second in the NBA (Philadelphia, 354.8). Not surprisingly, that has led to them ranking among the league’s leaders in assists (24.9, third in the NBA).
 
And that has led to Boston being ranked among the top-3 in several other key passing statistics, such as secondary assists (7.1, 2nd in the NBA); potential assists (49.5, 2nd); and assists points created (60.8, 3rd);
 
Here are a few more stats to crunch on, courtesy of CSN Associate Producer Andy Levine.
 
PAINT BY NUMBERS: When the Celtics score 40 percent or less of their points in the paint, they are 19-5 this season. When Boston gets 40 percent or more of its points in the paint, they are just 7-11.
 
BROWN IN THE FOURTH: Jaylen Brown has been among the better rookies this season, especially in the fourth quarter. Among rookies who played in at least 20 games in the fourth quarter, Brown is second in fourth quarter shooting at 54.9 percent. With those same standards, he’s sixth in shooting 3’s in the fourth at 38.5 percent.
 
CROWDER BOUNCES BACK: The past four games has seemingly brought out the best in Crowder. In that span, he has averaged 18.5 points and 6.8 rebounds while shooting 57 percent from the field and 48 percent from 3-point range. Crowder’s 3-point shooting of late has elevated him to seventh in the league while connecting on 42.5 percent of his 3-point attempts (minimum 150 attempts).

OUCH! It has not been a smooth start for Evan Turner with his new team, the Portland Trail Blazers. This season, Turner’s plus/minus is -234, which is the fourth-worst plus/minus in the NBA.
 
 

Stevens: Bradley, Zeller, Jerebko out vs. Trail Blazers

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Stevens: Bradley, Zeller, Jerebko out vs. Trail Blazers

BOSTON – Before Brad Stevens addressed the media before the Celtics faced the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday afternoon, he had to take a moment to make sure he wouldn’t forget anyone who wasn’t able to play.
 
Yeah, the list was a pretty long one.
 
Tyler Zeller, Demetrius Jackson and Jonas Jerebko will not play tonight due to sickness. And Avery Bradley (right Achilles strain) will also be out with a timetable that’s starting to feel like it’ll be longer than anyone would want.
 
“I don’t anticipate Avery this week at all,” Stevens said. “He still has some soreness. Obviously we’re concerned about the long-term impact of a sore Achilles; what it means on that foot but also what it means when you compensate off it. But he’ll be back when he’s ready but I think he’s still a little bit away.”
 
Bradley, the team’s top on-the-ball defender and No. 2 scorer this season at 17.7 points per game, will be out for the sixth time in the Celtics’ last seven games because of the Achilles injury.
 
Replacing him in the starting lineup will be Marcus Smart whose status for tonight’s game wasn’t a sure thing.
 
On the Celtics’ pregame notes package, Smart was listed as probable with a sore right ankle injury. I asked Stevens about Smart’s status a few minutes ago, and he said the 6-foot-4 Smart will play tonight.
 
In his 15 starts this season, Smart has averaged 10.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.5 assists while shooting 38.4 percent from the field and 31.7 percent on 3's - all of which are better than what he produces when coming off the bench.