WASHINGTON, DC Here are five thoughts from the first period with the Bruins and Capitals tied at a 1-1 score after the first 20 minutes of Game 4 at the Verizon Center.1) Dennis Wideman has now been on ice for every 5-on-5 goal that the Bruins have scored this season. It looks like the Bruins were fully aware of the dead spots in his game, and capitalized when he pinched into the offensive zone as Alex Ovechkin was turning over a puck.2) Not a lot of penalties called for either team in this one. Figured the Capitals might get the benefit of the doubt after crying over the lack of calls going their way in Game 3, and they did get the only power play of the period on a Rich Peverley slashing call. But the refs also missed an obvious high-sticking call on Benoit Pouliot when he smashed Mike Green in the face.3) The bloom is coming off Braden Holtby a little bit. He let up a five-hole goal to Rich Peverley that was on a 3-on-1 after the shifty forward faked pass to set up the shot. Holtby did stop the other 13 shots he faced and a couple of them were good chances, but the Washington goalie doesnt seem quite so impenetrable.4) Interesting non-interference call on Alex Ovechkin when he tackled Andrew Ference at open ice during a loose puck situation, and set up the Marcus Johansson goal for the Capitals less than two minutes into the game. Zdeno Chara overplayed the situation as well, and left Brian Rolston all alone trying to defend the odd-man rush. Nothing Rolston or Tim Thomas could do.5) Thus far the Bruins are doing what they need to do to earn a playoff win on the road. They owned possession in the first period, managed to end it with a tie score and made Dale Hunter pay for having John Erskine in his lineup. It was the lumbering defenseman that was stuck trying to contain a breakaway when Dennis Wideman was caught up ice. Not a great coaching move, Dale.
BOSTON -- The Bruins on Tuesday signed defenseman Kevan Miller to a four-year, $10 million deal, and also signed Seth Griffith to a one-year, two-way deal worth $625,000.
More to come . . .
Danny Ainge recently hinted on Toucher & Rich that the Celtics were interested in drafting Dragan Bender.
And they need to do exactly that.
No, I'm not crazy. Neither is Danny.
Drafting Bender is the Celtics' best option. As Ainge pointed out, his job is to make the move that's best for the team. Not just for the short term, but for the long haul.
Now, I can't say I've been to Croatia to work out Bender. Like many of you, I 've only seen him via the Internet.
It is easy to look at him and think he’s a project. That’s because he is. He’s 18 and, even though he's 7 feet tall, he only weighs about 220 soaking wet. He's a kid, too skinny at the moment for the NBA, and would no doubt get killed if you put in the post today.
And, like I said, I'm not crazy. I'm not committed to Bender. If Sacramento calls and offers Boogie Cousins for any combination of picks the Celtics have, the deal should be made immediately. To a degree, I feel the same way about Jimmy Butler. However, the consensus is those two players aren't going anywhere. (And even if they are available, suppose the Lakers decide to dangle the No. 2 pick for either of them? That would make a trade nearly impossible for Boston.)
But if the Celtics keep the third pick -- and he isn't taken by either Philly or L.A. (highly unlikely) -- Dragen Bender should be Ainge's choice. And it will be the right move.
Let’s break it down.
There's just no one else in this draft with Bender's upside. Buddy Hield is a 22-year-old shooting guard who completely disappeared in the NCAA championship game. He has a shot to be a very good NBA player, but he won’t transform the organization. Neither would Jamal Murray from Kentucky. Nor Kris Dunn from Providence.
The risk for Bender is HUGE. The reward is even HUGER. Ah, that’s not a word, right? Well then, BIGGER THAN HUGE! Or HUGEST!
Bender could be that guy.
And, I also admit, he also wind up playing in Europe or Israel.
Still, Danny has to roll the dice on this guy.
Bender can handle the ball, block shots, shoot the 3, and -- like all European players -- is fundamentally sound. The issue for this kid is toughness in the low post and getting stronger. I put my money on Celtics strength and conditioning coach Bryan Doo to get him ready for NBA life.
And I'm not one those boneheads who are pushing for Bender because Kristaps Porzingis has worked out for the Knicks. One has nothing to do with the other. For every Porzingis there's at least one Stojko Vrankovic. Or Darko Milicic.
Take Bender, Danny. In two years this guy may have gained 15 to 20 pounds of muscle, learned the rigors on and off the court of the NBA, and look like the next Porzingis, Or Dirk Nowitzki or Porzingis. Then use the other two Brooklyn first-round picks, and the Celtics could be back on their way to greatness.
But if you play it safe, Danny, and don't take Bender, the Green will simply be stuck in the mud of mediocrity.
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