Celtics-Heat review: What we saw . . .


Celtics-Heat review: What we saw . . .

MIAMI The Boston Celtics got a huge lift from their Big Three in defeating Miami 115-107.

No, the other Big three - as in, the three players that the C's now turn to off the bench - Ray Allen, Sasha Pavlovic and Greg Stiemsma.

All three played important roles in the win, delivering a little bit of everything when the C's needed it most.

They were especially effective in the first half.

"End of the first, and the second quarter, you could make a case was the biggest part of the game," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "That's when we stretched (the lead) with our bench."

Of the three, the play of Pavlovic has been the biggest surprise.

Although he played less than eight minutes, he had six points on a pair of 3-pointers in the first half in addition to one blocked shot.

"We just have to be ready to go out and play whenever coach (Rivers) calls our names," Pavlovic said. "If we do that every night, we're going to be fine."

Stiemsma, the lone big man off the Celtics bench, had a strong game with eight points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots while playing less than 20 minutes. And then there was Allen, who had nine points and three assists.

"This whole season has been about opportunities," Stiemsma said. "Tonight was just another one."

And when they're playing this well, it makes life a lot easier for the likes of Paul Pierce and the rest of, you know, that other Big Three.

"With so many games, back-to-back nights, these guys have to come up big," said Pierce who led all Celtics with 27 points. "It's going to be nights where they're going to have to save the starters, and they've been doing a good job of that lately."

The play of Boston's bench was indeed a major factor in the C's victory. Here are some of the keys identified prior to the game, and how they actually played out.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: You can bet one of the first things the Heat will try and do is get LeBron James to get his teammates involved. Of all the problems Boston presented in their 91-72 win over Miami on April 1, it was James' inability to establish scorers around him that put the Boston beat-down in motion. So it's important that Paul Pierce do a good job of not allowing James to find teammates for open or slightly contested shots. But James said he's not coming into tonight's game looking to establish any one particular style of play. "I just kind of let it flow," James said. "Throughout the course of the game, just see if guys have it going, or if I have it going, then I just play it by ear."

WHAT WE SAW: LeBron James didn't waste any time, getting an assist on the Heat's first made basket. He would finish with a team-high seven assists, but there was never a point in the game where James' ability to get his teammates involved seemed to have an impact on the game. In addition to his seven assists, he also had a game-high 36 points along with seven rebounds.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Avery Bradley vs. Dwyane Wade: You could tell this game really means a lot to Wade, who took Sunday night off against Detroit to rest (wink, wink) a sore ankle. As for Bradley, he has to be prepared for a lot of hard screens set to free up Wade. But to his credit, Bradley's ability to move without the ball and get into position to score off cuts will make Wade work hard on defense which if you're the Celtics, you hope will take away some of his offensive fire power. Needless to say, Wade has been impressed with Bradley's emergence. "One thing about Boston, they have a lot of triggers going on," Wade said. "As a defender, you're looking at (Rajon) Rondo with the ball, you're looking at all the triggers the have and he's one of the best cutters. He finds a way to cut, when the triggers are going on. So you're doing what you're taught to do - pay attention to the ball - and he's going the other way. So you just try and be aware of it."

WHAT WE SAW: Wade was better, but it was yet another game in which Bradley made him work a lot harder than he's used to. Wade finished with 20 points, but shot just 9-for-21 in doing so. Bradley only had 11 points, but he did it by shooting 5-for-8 from the field.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Rajon Rondo has had 17 straight games with 10 or more assist, and the last time he saw Miami on April 1 he had a triple-double. Look for the Heat to try and get the ball as much out Rondo's hands as possible, which would force Paul Pierce into being more of a facilitator as opposed to the C's primary scorer.

WHAT WE SAW: Rondo continues to play at a ridiculously high level for the Celtics. He finished with 18 points and a game-high 15 assists for his 18th double-double this season in addition to extending his streak of games with 10 or more assists, to 18. "Rondo really facilitated everything," said Paul Pierce. "With the movement, with the pushing the ball, mixing it up and also I thought he did a better job offensively."

STAT TO TRACK: One of the biggest problems Miami has had following the All-Star break, has been poor rebounding. Prior to the break, the Heat ranked 10th in bench rebounding, with 43 per game. Since returning from the break, they rank 26th with 39.6 per game. If the Celtics can keep this trend going, it'll provide a huge boost to their chances of beating Miami for the second time in the span of 10 days.

WHAT WE SAW: The Celtics became the latest team to give the Heat major problems on the boards, as Boston won the battle of the boards, 40-34.

Bruins select hard-nosed D-man Lindgren with second-round pick


Bruins select hard-nosed D-man Lindgren with second-round pick

BUFFALO – The Bruins went back for another young defenseman with the 49th overall pick in the second round and drafted Minnesota-born Ryan Lindgren, who will be playing for the Gophers this season as another college hockey product in the B’s system.

The 6-foot, 198-pound Lindgren is a hard-nosed, high-character defenseman that didn’t blow away scouts with any one tool, but was solid with six goals and 25 points in 61 games for the US National Development Team Program Under-18 team last season.

Lindgren has good hockey bloodlines as the younger brother of Montreal Canadiens goalie Charlie Lindgren and would be more of a solid all-around defenseman rather than an offensive D-man like first-round pick Charlie McAvoy.

“I honestly could not be more excited,” said Lindgren. “They are one of the teams that seemed like they had a lot of interest in me. When you get selected by a team like the Boston Bruins, everyone knows what a great organization they are. I really could not be more excited.

“I think I’m a leader on and off the ice, and bring a good compete level. I bring it every day. I think more of a defensive defenseman, but I think I’ve got some offensive ability in my game as well. I’m a guy who’s going to be physical, going to bring it every game, block shots. [I am] going to do what he has to do to help the team.”

The choice of Lindgren is a nice bounce-back pick for the Bruins on Day 2 after reaching a bit for Trent Frederic at the end of the first round on Friday night. The Bruins could end up regretting that choice if second-round picks such as Alex DeBrincat or Pascal Laberge end up developing into high-end forwards in the NHL.


Saturday, June 25: No stress for No. 16 pick Chychrun


Saturday, June 25: No stress for No. 16 pick Chychrun

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while there’s a beautiful day going on outside in Buffalo.

*D-man Jakob Chychrun says that he wasn’t stressing dropping into the middle of the first round before the Arizona Coyotes picked him.

*It’s a great piece of video from Friday night’s first round as Tyson Jost’s grandpa became a sobbing, proud man when his grandson was taken early in the first round of the NHL Draft.

*PHT writer Joey Alfieri has Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin believing that Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning crossed the line by publicly expressing interest in P.K. Subban.  

*Evander Kane is being investigated on a couple of harassment claims in the Buffalo area, a tough development during NHL Draft weekend there.

*The Blue Jackets had the biggest surprise of the first round by drafting Pierre-Luc Dubois with the third overall pick in the first round. They must think he’s going to be a center long term.

*The Edmonton Oilers and Minnesota Wild are talking trade for a D-man, but none of the defensemen names moved on Friday night.

*For something completely different: Adam Kaufman gives his take on the draft night for the Celtics.



Bruins' D-man target Kulikov goes from Panthers to Sabres in trade


Bruins' D-man target Kulikov goes from Panthers to Sabres in trade

One of the Bruins' defenseman trade targets is off the market. 

Dmitry Kulikov was traded from Florida Panthers to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. He was on Boston's list of usual suspects for D-men.

Buffalo traded defenseman Mark Pysyk and the 38th and 89th pick to Florida for the 25-year old Kulikov and pick No. 33.

The Bruins had discussed a Kulikov deal with the Panthers last week.