Haggerty: Chiarelli has mastered the tricks of the trade

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Haggerty: Chiarelli has mastered the tricks of the trade

WILMINGTON, Mass. The harmonious chemistry inside a hockey dressing room can be a fragile and complicated concoction.
Oftentimes a team riding high on emotion, overflowing with an old-fashioned work ethic and full of efficient moving pieces, can be greater than the sum of its parts.
Without bona-fide superstars at the forward position or a true sniper Tyler Seguin is Bostons leading goal-scorer and point-getter, but isnt among the top 35 scorers in the NHL the Bruins certainly qualify as a prime example.
The Bs are one of those teams reliant on chemistry, discipline and hard work over sheet star power.
That means newcomers can be incredibly important to the balance of chemistry, and can tip the scales considerably for better or worse.
The NHL trade deadline becomes a challenge to find the perfect fit, both personally and professionally. A bad-apple personality or a player who cant adhere to the Claude Julien system can do all manner of damage. The Bruins saw the latter with Tomas Kaberle last season, but managed to win the Stanley Cup anyway.
All that being said, long-time Bruins have developed an appreciation for the way general manager Peter Chiarelli can pick potential Bs at the deadline.Its hard to talk about GMs as a player, but of course were happy with what hes done, said Andrew Ference. The longer you go on and the more you play in this league, you realize the teams that are able to sustain success are the ones that have the same base group of players year after year.
A certain trait of success is, when you find a group of guys with a certain amount of character and chemistry then you dont mess with it much. Theres been tinkering here and there, but the guys that hes brought in have been personalities that have really fit in well. Guys have different backgrounds and beliefs, but almost everybody in here has the same kind of character. For instance me and Timmy Thomas, we have completely different political and social beliefs, but our character is so similar that were on the same page when it comes to winning and commitment . . . all of the things that make up what sports are. It has to be hard as a GM to seek out those players that will fit especially if you dont know them that well but hes done a tremendous job. I have no idea what the science behind it is, but it works.
Chiarelli and the rest of the front office have become incredibly adept at identifying their teams needs, finding players with the right personality to mesh with the team, and surrendering proper value for those players.
Last season Chiarelli brought in Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley to little fanfare. They didnt produce much through the remainder of the regular season, but both forwards were huge difference-makers in the postseason.
Kelly said the desire to prove Chiarelli right after he arrived from the Senators was one of the driving forces for him during last years playoff run. The Bruins clearly wouldnt have won anything without his scoring binge in the first round against the Canadiens, and it came from a place of high motivation.
I might be a bit biased because Chiarelli brought me in last year, but he does a good job with those trades, said Kelly. Brian Rolston, Greg Zanon and Mike Mottau (this year's deadline pickups) are all good guys and character guys that play hard within the team concept. A lot of times people want GMs to go out and get the big-name player, free agent or whatever. But a lot of times thats not the best circumstance.
I always thought Peter stuck his neck out to bring me here and had faith in me. I wanted to prove people right. I remember feeling sick to my stomach going down two games to Montreal last year because we felt like Peter had brought us in to help them win last year and we werent doing that. Obviously it ended well and I was glad Peter stuck his neck out to bring me in here.
The past success of the Bs complimentary trade deadline moves has been well-documented, of course. There are so many key Bruins players who were once Chiarelli trade deadline deals: Kelly, Peverley, Ference and Mark Recchi among others.
It appears Chiarelli has once again struck the proper chord with the teams needs this season. Thats even more impressive given how little fanfare the deals sparked.
There was plenty of attention paid to the one that got away when the Bruins couldnt find common ground with the Los Angeles Kings on a potential deal for Dustin Brown, but very little to what Boston actually received. Rolston, Zanon and Mottau have given the B's exactly what they didnt even know that they needed.
Rolston managed only nine points in 49 games with the New York Islanders, but hes become a vital veteran cog on the third line with 13 points (3 goals and 10 assists) in 16 games with the Bruins.
With so many injuries on their wing, Rolston stepped in fully once his conditioning was up to snuff following his bad experience on Long Island. Now he looks like an indispensible force along the third line for the playoffs.
Im obviously glad Chiarelli brought me in, said Rolston. I wasnt having a very good year on the Island and it obviously wasnt a very good fit for me. He looked past that and Im happy Im here and contributing.
There are some people in this organization that know what kind of person I am and what kind of player I am, and I hope that went into it. I take pride in that kind of stuff.
Rolston has also brought a Recchi-esque voice of experience inside the dressing room, and that never hurts. All of it adds up to exactly what the Bruins were searching for and Rolston came along with a valuable depth defensemen in Mottau at a bargain basement price.
Zanon struggled at first after coming over from the Wild, but hes become a thoroughly Bruins type of player, extremely reminiscent of Mark Stuart in both skill set and style. He isnt blessed with the highest offensive skill set, but is a shot-blocking beast consistently throwing out at least one bone-jarring body check per game a talent Stuart mastered during his developmental years with the Bruins.
Rolston has merged seamlessly with Kelly and Benoit Pouliot a transition made even easier given the past history between Rolston and Pouliot during their time together in Minnesota and Zanon has allowed the Bruins to push Joe Corvo to the bench.
The trades were also both made without Chiarelli surrendering a first-round pick or the rights to any of his best prospects.
The sheer lack of attention and praise lavished on Chiarelli at the trade deadline was perhaps understandable given the lack of sexy names involved in the deals. But he deserves congratulations for picking up some valuable pieces. Even though he had very few tradable assets he was willing to relinquish, Rolston, Zanon and Mottau are in Boston, and the Bruins are a deeper, more experienced and dangerous team.
Win, lose or draw, Chiarelli has proven once again this season that hes figured out this trade deadline thing without altering the delicate balance of the dressing room.

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.