WALTHAM Injuries have forced Portland, much like the Boston Celtics, to play some younger players sooner rather than later.
Among the young Blazers making the most of his opportunity to play more, has been rookie guard Elliott Williams who missed all of last season with surgery to both of his knees.
But the Boston Celtics won't have to worry about Williams after he suffered a left shoulder injury during Portland's practice at Emerson College on Thursday. He is expected to miss tonight's game in addition to Saturday's matchup at Washington.
Williams has worked his way into the rotation, and has become a player that Portland looks to provide energy and toughness off the bench.
"He's certainly earned the right to get some minutes," Blazers coach Nate McMillan told the (Portland, Ore.) Oregonian. "I think he can play. I like his energy, his scrap, his aggressiveness on both ends of the floor. It's something fresh ... and I like what he's giving us."
While his numbers this season - 3.7 points in 6.2 minutes per game - don't exactly jump out to you, he has averaged 5.2 points in just 7.9 minutes, while shooting 56.4 percent from the field. He was taken by the Blazers with the No. 22 pick in the first round - three spots behind Boston's selection of Avery Bradley.
And Bradley, like Williams, has established himself as a player Celtics coach Doc Rivers can feel good about having in the regular rotation.
It didn't take Bradley long to establish himself as a player who could impact the game with his play defensively. One of the highlights of this season for the C's was their 31-point win over Orlando on Jan. 23, a game in which Bradley completely overwhelmed Magic guard Jameer Nelson with his defense.
Shortly before that breakout performance, Celtics coach Doc Rivers had talked about how rookie E'Twaun Moore had moved ahead of Bradley in the pecking order.
That didn't last long.
Whether he's battling an opponent or fighting for playing time, Bradley continues to be the best up-and-comer on the C's roster this season.
"At the end of the day, I'm going to come in and I'm always going to grind," Bradley said. "And I'm always going to work hard."
BRIGHTON, Mass -- It hasn’t been an easy road for Bruins rookie goaltender Zane McIntyre since getting called back up by Boston a few weeks ago.
The 24-year-old netminder is trying to give the B’s top-level goaltending while earning the trust of the Bruins coaching staff, and adjusting to the sporadic playing time that goes along with playing understudy to a No. 1 netminder like Tuukka Rask. The three goals allowed in the third period of Sunday afternoon’s 5-1 loss to the Penguins didn’t look good on paper, but really there wasn’t much McIntyre could do with the defense totally breaking down in front of him during a 12-shot barrage in the final 20 minutes.
The 3.95 goals against average and .860 save percentage certainly look like a little frightening for the first-year goalie, but the truth is there’s going to be some bumps as he adjusts to life as a backup for the first time.
“[The adjustment] is mostly between the ears, to be honest,” said McIntyre. “I have confidence in my physical abilities and I know what I can do, and what makes my game successful. So right now it’s just building confidence every day in practice and staying persistent, staying with it. I know good things are going to happen when you surround yourself with good people, and the biggest thing is battling every day and making sure I’m contributing to the team.”
McIntyre will certainly have to be sharp if he’s put back in the crease on Tuesday night against the Red Wings after Rask exited from Sunday’s loss in the second period with symptoms of a migraine. The Bruins top goalie missed practice on Monday while getting himself checked out medically, and there’s a chance he could be out if the symptoms are in any way related to the Roman Josi shot he took off his neck last week.
“I’m just taking it day-by-day to be honest. That’s what I’ve always done in the past, and I’m just trying to build up confidence every day,” said McIntyre, who had been lights out in Providence prior to getting the call to Boston. “We’ll just see what happens and roll with it.”
That’s a challenge McIntyre will certainly be up for in a different way than Sunday’s mop-up duty, but it remains to be seen just how steady-footed the Bruins will be about their goalie situation if Rask is expected to miss any time this week.
Devin McCourty says that if the Patriot win the Super Bowl years from now people will remember the win, not the fact Roger Goodell did not attend AFC Championship.