Paille's play couldn't be cleaner for Bruins

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Paille's play couldn't be cleaner for Bruins

SUNRISE, Fl. Daniel Paille has never been the kind of player thats going to rack up heavy penalty minutes despite his role as an energetic attacker on the Bruins fourth line.

But the 27-year-old forward has quietly and efficiently taken things to a different level this season in terms of discipline and control. Paille is the only regular member of Bostons lineup yet to take any kind of penalty this season, and isnt sure he wants to delve too deeply into the why behind it.But it also makes him something of a rare breed: the cleanest player on a Bruins team that prides themselves on getting into the face of opponents and working off an intimidating air about them.

Its not something Im trying to do. There were a couple of questionable plays where I thought I was going to take a penalty and didnt surprisingly, said Paille. I try to play the game a clean way, and I havent crossed over that line to deserve a penalty. Its not something I normally talk about, but Im there right now. Its kinda odd.

Some of it is pure happen stance, of course, as Paille admitted hes probably gotten away with a few things here or threthrough his first 37 games of the season. But the low PIM total is still impressive given that Paille ranks in the middle of the Bs team pack with 28 registered hits and nine takeaways on the season. Bringing a physical presence built around his speed and tenacity is the first order of business for a forward line expected to bring a little thump to the game along with Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell.

Its the same hustling, intelligent, gritty game that Paille has brought to the table over the last three years since arriving in a very underrated trade pulled off by Peter Chiarelli, but hes simply doing his job even better than before.

Paille has already scored more goals this year (seven) than he did last season (six) and is only three points off last years total for the entire year. Of course the forward only played 43 games in something of a lost year after getting lost in the shuffle early in the season.

This season Paille has missed minimal time while battling through a shattered nose and a mild concussion, and has managed to steer off bad luck with some very good performances. Its been a good overall season and a big step up from the aforementioned challenging campaign when Paille battled with consistency and confidence before hitting his stride late in the season just prior to the playoffs.

Both Campbell and Thornton have racked up high PIM counts this season, but nearly all of their penalty calls are matching fighting majors or matching minor penalties. Part of the Bs fourth line mantra is to avoid putting their team down a man with lazy or careless plays on the ice, and theyre good at keeping things in check. In terms of a Lady Byng candidate Paille is the best that the rough and tumble Bruins have to offer, but thats something hes not reading too much into.

Its surprising I dont have any penalties because there are questionable hits and questionable everything especially with our lines role, said Paille. Ive been in plenty of scrums but havent made my way to the box with the whole line and our team getting into physical confrontations. Ive typically never had too many penalties in my career, but to get halfway through the season is a little shocking.

Im not trying to get a penalty, but in the same sense Im trying my best to take the puck off somebody elses stick the right way. If I happen to get a penalty when it happens then so be it.

One other piece to Pailles penchant for staying out of the sin bin: his important role on the teams penalty kill unit. Paille averages 1:28 of ice time while shorthanded, and hes paired up with Campbell to give the Bruins a dynamic forward pairing put together on the PK unit. Put the whole package together and the Bruins have a player in Paille thats figured out that a little extra hustle and some poise in tight situations is helping the individual and team put their best foot forward.

Paille may take a couple of minor penalties before the season is over, but that wont change the very heady, hustling season hes putting up in Boston.

C's edge out Sixers 107-106

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C's edge out Sixers 107-106

The Boston Celtics had another one of those nights when the defense took a lot longer to get on track than anyone with the Celtics could have felt comfortable about.

But they made just enough plays down the stretch to squeak out a 107-106 win.

Isaiah Thomas led all scorers with 37 points to go with seven assists.

Philadelphia's Dario Saric, who finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds off the bench, missed a 3-pointer that was defended tightly by Jonas Jerebko, that was rebounded by Marcus Smart.

With 8.6 seconds to play, Smart made both free throws to make it a two-possession game.

Philadelphia's Ersan Ilyasova hit a 3-pointer with 2.8 seconds to play, which led to Boston's Brad Stevens immediately calling a time-out.

Coming out of the time-out, Boston's Jae Crowder in-bounded the ball to Al Horford who was fouled with 1.7 seconds to play.

Horford made both free throws to seal the victory. With a four-point lead, Ilyasova hit yet another 3-pointer as the final horn expired.

Down the stretch, the Celtics were led by Thomas who scored 12 of their last 17 points.

After leading 90-88, Thomas scored eight straight to put Boston ahead 98-91.

But the Sixers were getting a career night from Saric whose scoop shot with 34.6 seconds to play tied the game at 100.

Following a Celtics time-out, Thomas continued his dominant fourth quarter with a blow by lay-up past Saric.

The Sixers, down 102-100, called a time-out with 30 seconds.

Philadelphia had three shots at the rim following the time-out, but the ball eventually wound up in the hands of Avery Bradley who was fouled with 16.3 seconds to play.

Bradley,who had 20 points and nine rebounds, made the second of the two free throws that put Boston ahead by three points.

After being tied at 74 through three quarters, the Celtics opened the fourth with an 8-2 run highlighted by an Al Horford 3-pointer that made it an 82-76 game.

The Sixers called a time-out with 10:22 to play, well aware that the game’s fleeting momentum was squarely in Boston’s favor.

Philadelphia didn’t fall too far behind, but the Celtics’ control of the game seemed to continue to grow.

Boston got back into the game with timely stops, big blocks (Jaylen Brown) and a bunch of multiple effort plays which collectively were in stark contrast to how things went in the first half.

Philadelphia has been among the worst teams in the NBA this season, and were playing without their best player Joel Embiid who does not play in the second night of back-to-back games (Philadelphia played Orlando on Friday night).

So without their best interior force offensively, the Sixers relied heavily on their 3-point shooting.

It was a good strategy that the Celtics had no answer for in the first half which was one in which Boston spent primarily playing catch-up.

The Sixers, who came into the game ranked ninth in the NBA in 3-point shooting (36.1 percent) and seventh in 3-pointers made (10.6), were a blistering 9-for-18 on 3s in the first half.

Meanwhile, Boston’s offense never seemed to get into any kind of flow or rhythm which was a key to the Celtics going into the half trailing 53-45 after having fallen behind by as many as 11 points.

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.