Celtics need to race through easy stretch of road

635178.jpg

Celtics need to race through easy stretch of road

BOSTON When you're playing below-.500 basketball like the Boston Celtics (9-10) are, there's no such thing as an easy stretch of games.

But if there was, this would be it.

The C's play 7 games in the next 12 nights, with only two against teams with a winning record.

And those two, against Memphis and the Los Angeles Lakers, are both at the TD Garden. Boston's other five games are against Cleveland (8-11), Toronto (7-14) twice, New York (7-13) and Charlotte (3-18).

For the C's, looking ahead can be fatal if they're not careful.

"Those other games, we can't worry about them," Mickael Pietrus told CSNNE.com. "We have to worry about our next opponent; that's it."

He attributes the Celtics' winning four of their last five games as a testament how the team's one-game-at-a-time mantra works.

"We're not looking ahead of any teams," Pietrus said. "The only team we think about, is the team we're playing. That's all."

In addition to trying to avoid looking past opponents, the Celtics must also recognize the need to put teams away when they have the opportunity.

Boston's 88-87 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday was one of the few games in which the Celtics controlled the action most of the game but were unable to seal the deal down the stretch.

"We let our guard down," said coach Doc Rivers. "I told our guys, 'Think about down the stretch, the last five minutes, how many 'cute' plays we made.' You know? No-look passes, behind-the-back passes. And they got deflected and we didn't score on them. You lose games that way."

Which is exactly what they did, as Kyrie Irving scored the game-winning basket with 2.6 seconds to play.

Although the table is set for the C's to exact some revenge against the Cavs on Tuesday, payback is the last thing Kevin Garnett is thinking about now.

"You don't get a consolation of anything; any loss is bad," Garnett said.

Especially when it's against teams that on paper at least, are beatable.

"We can beat anybody in the league when we play the way we know how to play," said Chris Wilcox. "When we don't, anybody can beat us. We can't take any team for granted."

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

BOSTON -- With three crushing losses in a row at a time when results are really all that matters, the Boston Bruins are reeling at the wrong time during the regular season. The B’s tried their best to win a game 0-0 with strong defense against a sleepy Chicago Blackhawks bunch on Friday night, but ultimately coughed up a Marian Hossa goal in the final minutes for a 1-0 regulation loss at TD Garden.

The defeat continued a swirl downward for the Black and Gold over the last week, and was a second straight shutout loss on home ice for the first time in almost 15 years. The losing stretch has also kicked up the chatter that Claude Julien is in trouble as head coach of the Bruins, and the hockey club’s underperformance up and down the lineup is ultimately going to cost the NHL’s longest tenured bench boss his job.

The Ottawa Senators have passed the Bruins in the Atlantic Division, and it’s only a matter of time before the Toronto Maple Leafs move by them as well with both Toronto and Ottawa holding six games in hand on Boston. Combine all of this with the B’s having missed the playoffs in each of the previous two seasons leading into this one, and it shouldn’t be at all surprising that Julien is squarely on the coaching hot seat.

The B’s bench boss was asked about his job security after the Chicago loss, and clearly didn’t appreciate the tough, but appropriate question.

“Well, I’m not into shock-journalism,” said Julien in a prideful tone. “So I’ll stay away from that question if you don’t mind.”

The Bruins posted their Saturday schedule shortly after Julien and the B’s players had addressed the media following the loss, and sure enough the embattled coach is scheduled to address the media post-practice as part of the regular practice day routine. So it doesn’t seem that a move with Julien is imminent this weekend despite another loss, but both the coach and the players know something is going to happen to shake things up with this team if they continue to struggle.

“Right now it’s a results based situation, so if you’re going to keep losing games then probably something’s going to happen,” said Torey Krug. “But right now we’re just pretty down emotionally after this game, so I don’t want to look at the big picture. I just [want to] focus on what’s going on in this room, and hopefully we can come back with a good effort the next game.”

A good effort might help Julien’s standing with the Bruins in the short term, but it’s impossible to imagine the B’s bench boss making it through the rest of the Bruins regular season given all of things working against him right now.