Celtics need to race through easy stretch of road

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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."

Red Sox activate Brock Holt off DL, will start in LF

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Red Sox activate Brock Holt off DL, will start in LF

After being out with a concussion since May 20, Brock Holt has been activated by the Red Sox and will start in left field in the opener of the three-game series with the Angels. 

Infielder Mike Miller was optioned back to Triple-A Pawtucket to make room for Holt on the roster.

Holt was hitting .239 with three homers and 19 RBI before he was injured. He hit .320 (8-for-25) in an eight-game rehab stint for the PawSox.

Sounds like Blues won’t be trading Shattenkirk

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Sounds like Blues won’t be trading Shattenkirk

So, it looks like the Bruins will have to find a puck-moving, “transitional” defenseman elsewhere as Blues D-man Kevin Shattenkirk may be off the market for a while.

Blues President of Hockey Operations and GM Doug Armstrong jumped on with the NHL Tonight crew on NHL Network Friday afternoon and was asked point blank about the trade rumors surrounding the former BU defenseman in the wake of both Troy Brouwer and David Backes bolting in free agency.

It would appear things have changed for the St. Louis bottom line and now the Blues will start the season with Shattenkirk while monitoring how the roster fares during the season.

Considering that the Blues are coming off a good, deep playoff run, it may be that Shattenkirk doesn’t get dealt at all.

“I think the Kevin Shattenkirk thing grew on a life of its own at the draft. What I’ve said internally here is that we’re excited to have Kevin Shattenkirk as a part of our team. In the NHL now you see all the players hitting free agency and moving to [different] teams,” said Armstrong to the NHL Tonight crew. 

“Our goal is to try and get Kevin signed if we can, or start the year and him a good. We started last year with Troy Brouwer and David Backes in the same situation, we had 107 or 108 points and made it to the semifinals. I think if you’re always trying to trade players as they enter the last year of their contracts, I don’t know that you’re ever going to have a really good team if you’re running away from free agency. Free agency is part of our game, and you make those free agent decisions. 

“If you get to a part of the year and you have guys that are unrestricted and your team is no good, then you make those decisions. But if you have a good team and you have guys that are unrestricted, you just play it out.”

So, where do the Bruins turn after it was clear the Blues weren’t that interested in trading Shattenkirk by asking for both first-round picks and David Pastrnak at last weekend’s NHL draft? 

With Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and David Backes all signed to big contracts, perhaps the Bruins explore dealing Krejci for another one of the available transition D-man on the market. Anaheim’s Cam Fowler comes to mind immediately, and Colorado’s Tyson Barrie is another player that could certainly help the Black and Gold if they’re looking to trade up for a high-caliber, top-four puck-moving type.

Still, it sure doesn’t sound like it will be Shattenkirk, 27, who will be looking for an deal in the neighborhood of seven years, $49 million from whatever team signs him to his next contract.