Celtics-Magic review: What we saw


Celtics-Magic review: What we saw

BOSTON Who would have thought no Rajon Rondo (wrist), Ray Allen (ankle) or three key reserves, would somehow equate to the Boston Celtics most impressive win of the season, an 87-56 blowout against Orlando. While many were expecting the game to be a blowout, few would have anticipated it being so lopsided in favor of the injury-riddled Celtics?

To win a game like that so emphatically, a lot has to go right.

We'll take a look at the keys we outlined prior to the game, and how those keys played out in the game's outcome.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Three-point shooting should be a major factor in tonight's game, with the Celtics and the Magic ranking No. 1 and 2, respectively, in 3-point shooting percentage. However, the C's will be significantly challenged in that are with their best 3-point shooter, Ray Allen, out with an ankle injury.

WHAT WE SAW: The 3-ball was not nearly as big a game-changer for either team, on Monday. Orlando connected on just four of its 16 3-point attempts. The Celtics were even worse, misfiring on 11 of their 13 3-pointers.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett vs. Ryan Anderson. You've got the perennial all-star battling the all-star wannabe right here. Garnett is coming off a solid game at Washington, but Anderson is coming in with what has been a breakout season for the fourth year pro. He's averaging 17.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game which has been a big part of Orlando's impressive start to this season.

WHAT WE SAW: This was Anderson's moment to shine. Instead, he shrunk like a worm in salt water. Not only did he not come close to matching his season averages, he didn't even score or grab a single rebound in 23-plus minutes. Meanwhile, Garnett was part of the three-headed monster (Jermaine O'Neal and Greg Stiemsma were the other heads) charged with trying to limit Dwight Howard. Garnett did a solid job on him, and even managed to chip in 14 points and 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double this season.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Paul Pierce. He's coming off a huge 34-point, 10-assist, 8-rebound night at Washington. With so many Celtics out of the lineup, Pierce might have to be even better than that just for the Celtics to have a fighting chance.

WHAT WE SAW: Pierce wasn't as good statistically on Monday as he was on Sunday, but his ability to fill up the stat sheet didn't go unnoticed. He shared game-high scoring honors of 19 points, with teammate Brandon Bass. Pierce also managed to dish out seven assists to go with five rebounds.

STAT TO TRACK: Tonight's game features the NBA's active leaders in 20-point, 20-rebound games. No. 1 on the list is Dwight Howard, who has 37. Behind him is Kevin Garnett, who has 27. Howard's chances of getting another one tonight? Very good. KG? Not so much.
WHAT WE SAW: Neither player came within striking distance of adding to their 2020 resumes, but both provided a much-needed lift for their respective teams. Howard had 18 points and 14 rebounds for the Magic while Garnett chipped in with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Haggerty: So what exactly has happened to the Bruins-Habs rivalry?


Haggerty: So what exactly has happened to the Bruins-Habs rivalry?

BRIGHTON, MASS -- It didn’t take last season’s embarrassing Winter Classic result to figure out something has been missing from the storied, legendary Bruins-Canadiens rivalry over the last few years.

The last traces of the latest, great incarnation of the B’s-Habs rivalry were clearly still there a couple of seasons ago when the two hockey clubs met in the second round of the playoffs. After falling short the last few times the teams met in the postseason, Boston was summarily dismissed by Montreal in Game 7 on their own home ice during that series. The following season the B’s simply had so many of their own players struggling to put out a consistent effort, so the games against the Habs didn’t really register highly on the importance scale, and last season both Boston and Montreal suffered through subpar seasons that saw them each fall short of the playoffs.

Since the second round loss to the Habs in the 2013-14 playoffs, the Bruins are 2-7 while being outscored by a 31-18 margin in nine regular season meetings over the last two seasons in an incredibly one-sided chapter in the two teams’ shared history. The real lack of competitiveness has been a noticeable lack of deep emotion or ill will on the ice between the two hockey clubs, and that is very different from the recent past when signature players like Milan Lucic, P.K. Subban and Shawn Thornton were card-carrying members of healthy hate that regularly spilled out on the ice between the two rival NHL organizations.

Instead it will probably be new blood that breathes glorious, hard-edged life into the history between the two Original Six teams, and new personalities like David Backes, Shea Weber and Andrew Shaw are likely to do just that. Certainly the Canadiens wanted to be much more difficult to play against in recruiting players like Shaw and Weber, and, their presence along with the offensively explosive Alex Radulov, could make it a tough matchup for the Black and Gold.

Either way, the Bruins are curious to see what the matchup looks like this season with the electric P.K. Subban removed from the mix as one of the classic Habs villain-type characters from a Boston perspective.

“It’s always fun to play Montreal at home, or in Montreal. This will be our second time counting the preseason, and our first time at the Garden. It’s going to be pretty cool,” said David Krejci. “When you say any NHL team there are a few names that pop out for that team, and [P.K. Subban] was definitely one of them [for Montreal]. But P.K. is gone, and now it’s Shea Weber. So it’s going to be a little different, but he’s a hell of a player as well so it isn’t going to be any easier.

“It’s a big game. It’s a division game. We don’t want to take any game lightly within the 82 games because you don’t know what can happen at the end. When those games against [Montreal] are done you always feel like you’ve played two games, and not just one. It’s high intensity, and it’s obviously a rivalry that you get up for.”

As Bruins head coach Claude Julien would say it, things are a bit too civilized between the two enemy teams when thinking back to the days of Georges Laraque chasing Milan Lucic around the ice challenging him a fight on the Bell Centre ice, or the awful epoch in B’s-Habs history when Zdeno Chara clobbered Max Pacioretty with a dangerous, injury-inducing hit into the stanchion area.

Nobody is looking for players to get hurt on borderline plays when the two teams suit up on Saturday night, but something to introduce a new chapter into the Boston-Montreal rivalry would be a good thing for both teams, a good thing for the fans and a potentially great thing for an NHL that prides itself on good, old-fashioned rivalries.

“We need to make sure that we’re ready to play [on Saturday]. I like the way that we’ve played so far, and except for Toronto we’ve managed to compete with all of the teams that we’ve played against,” said Julien. “I don’t know if it’s going to stay that way, but I’m going to use the word that [the rivalry] has been more civilized for the last few years. There hasn’t been as much of the sideshow as there has been [in the past].

“I think there’s still a lot of hatred between the two organizations when they meet, but I think the way the game is trending, and how costly that penalties can be in a game, both teams are a little cautious in that way. I still think there is great intensity and both teams get up for the games, so hopefully that happens tomorrow, and the fans get to see a good game.”

One thing that should ensure a good, familiar showdown with plenty of hard-hitting and honest-to-goodness rivalry-like behavior: both the Canadiens and Bruins are off to strong starts at the top of the Atlantic Division in the first couple of weeks this season, and there are some new faces that are undoubtedly going to want to announce their presence for these Bruins-Habs tilts with authority.

Let’s hope this happens because last season’s Bruins-Habs games needed a pair of jumper cables and 1.21 jigowatts of electricity to shock them back into their elevated level of intensity, and that’s when hockey is served best after all.