Felger and Mazz: Neely on Lucic hit, Miller comments

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Felger and Mazz: Neely on Lucic hit, Miller comments

Ryan Miller is one of the best goalies in the NHL, and has been for quite some time. But his job is done between the pipes. When he -- or any goalie -- leaves the crease, he's no longer in his safety zone.

He found that out the hard way on Saturday night when Milan Lucic slammed into him after he skated out to poke away a puck.

On Monday, after it was determined that Lucic would not be suspended for the hit, Bruins president Cam Neely was asked about it and what he thought of the rule that goalies shouldn't be hit.

"I have no problem -- listen, inside the crease, inside the paint, it makes it hard for someone to drive to the net," Neely told Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti Monday on 98.5 The Sports Hub's 'Felger & Mazz' Show, which is simulcast on Comcast SportsNet. "As you know, if you drive it hard to the net you clip the goalie you're going to get a penalty. I understand that.

"From a certain point, how much can the goalie come out and how much can they play the puck?" Neely said. "Eventually the goalie could I guess come out to the blue line and make plays because nobody's going to touch them."

Neely's history as a player is well-documented, and he was definitely a physical player. It makes sense that his point of view favors the aggressor. And he may have a good point. If the goalie is going to act like a skater, he should be treated like one.

Regardless, Miller was livid at Lucic, and hung around after the game to call Lucic a "piece of expletive" and said he was gutless.

"I feel it's a man that's very frustrated with what happened," Neely said about the comments. "You speak after the game like that you have your emotions running high. So obviously he was pretty emotional after that game."

But isn't that emotion something that usually stays on the ice? You'd think that his teammates would have settled the matter later in the game, but when it came to standing up for their goalie, the Buffalo Sabres were nowhere to be found.

"Maybe he was frustrated with everything that happened from the hit and after that," Neely said, referencing the lack of toughness on the part of the Sabres.

At the half: Sixers applying pressure early and often against the Celtics

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At the half: Sixers applying pressure early and often against the Celtics

The Celtics are getting more than they bargained for against the Philadelphia 76ers who are once again, record-wise, among the worst teams in the NBA.

They didn’t look like it in the first half which ended with the Celtics trailing the Sixers 53-45.

Boston came into the game having won its last four road games. And they did so by playing solid defense, something that has been noticeably absent in the first half.

Philadelphia came into the game as one of the NBA’s better 3-point shooting teams and has lived up to the lofty ranking.

In the first half Philadelphia made nine of its 18 three-point attempts while the Celtics are way, way, way at the other end of the 3-point shooting spectrum while missing eight of their 11 3s with Isaiah Thomas making a pair with the lone other made 3-pointer coming from Marcus Smart.

The defense struggled, the offense never had any kind of flow and not surprisingly, the Celtics found themselves playing from behind most of the first half.

Here are the first half stars from Saturday’s game.

STARS

Sergio Rodriguez: His playmaking was solid as usual, but it was Rodriguez getting it going with his jumper that really produced surprisingly strong results for the Sixers. He had 11 points, four assists and a steal in the first half.

Isaiah Thomas: Playing his game which is shooting and attacking the rim, Thomas was Boston’s lone double-digit scorer in the first half with 15 points which is tops among all players.

STUDS

Dario Saric: It was a solid first half as Saric contributed both on the boards and the scoreboard. He had 10 points in the first half along with five rebounds.

Gerald Henderson: Henderson had one of those high efficiency-type games with 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting.

DUDS

Celtics 3-point shooting: It was a miserable first half for a team that has been among the NBA’s leaders in 3-pointers made and taken this season. At the half, Boston has shot 2-for-10 on 3's.

Celtics defense: Boston has shown little to no signs of providing the kind of push-back they’ll need in order to leave Philly with a win. In addition to allowing Philadelphia to shoot 47.4 percent from the field, Boston also allowed the Sixers to knock down nine 3's.

Thomas becoming one of the NBA's best in the fourth quarter

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Thomas becoming one of the NBA's best in the fourth quarter

Isaiah Thomas has established himself as one of the NBA’s top players in the fourth quarter of games this season.

“I’d rather play that than any other quarter,” Thomas said.

But there will be times when the game’s flow or head coach Brad Stevens’ gut will tell him to go in a different direction with Thomas’ minutes which is something the two have had conversations about which has helped eliminate any confusion or misunderstandings.

“We’ve had player-coach talks, how he feels and how I feel,” Thomas said. “That’s the relationship we have. We changed it up a little bit (in the win over Sacramento) and I’m just happy we got the win.”

In that game, Thomas was replaced by Terry Rozier with 3:20 to play in the quarter and Boston trailing 66-63. He returned to the floor at the 8:31 mark and the Celtics were down 76-74.

“The key is, there are some times where you feel like those last few minutes of the third quarter will be real important moving forward,” Stevens told reporters prior to tonight’s game. “Especially based on how your team is playing. And you just have to make that decision. You have to make that decision, you take him out early in the third like we did (against Sacramento) and put him back in earlier; or play him through until the two or one-minute mark in the third, and then give him his rest up until the seven or six. Either way, we’ve talked about it like I do with all our guys, especially the guys that are playing and big in the rotation.

Stevens would love to come up with a game plan and stick to it with little to no changes being made.

But the NBA game is unpredictable and his job as the head coach is to make the necessary on-the-fly changes that best position the Celtics for victory.

“Ultimately there will be days that it will be very consistent and there might be a time or two where I’m gonna go with my gut,” Stevens said. “They know that and we’ve talked about it.”

And while Stevens’ decision may not sit well with some, players understand it’s all done to achieve one goal – win. 

“There’s a number of reasons why you make a decision to leave someone in or take someone out,” Stevens said. “Ultimately, we have to figure out game to game, moment to moment, what’s best for our team. That’s what I’m charged with. That doesn’t mean I’m always right. I’m not gonna act like that. Ultimately, those guys know I’m thinking about it all the time.”