Celtics not putting teams away when given the chance

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Celtics not putting teams away when given the chance

BOSTON Putting teams in a deep hole seems to be getting easier of late for the Boston Celtics.

Now keeping them there is another matter.

The woeful Charlotte Bobcats were the latest team that the Celtics allowed to keep the game closer than it should be, before Boston ultimately pulled away for the win.

Boston (27-22) has won four of its last five games, and have led by double digits in all five. And of the four games the Celtics won, all but one ended with a single-digit Celtics win.

C's coach Doc Rivers has been harping on his players to improve in all phases of their play, including how to put a team away when they get up comfortably.

"He wants us to be creatures of habit on the defensive end and offensive end," Celtics forward Brandon Bass told CSNNE.com.

Doing so is easier said than done, especially when playing on the road.

In Boston's last five games, all but the Washington game on Sunday was on the road.

That also happens to be the Celtic's only double-digit win (88-76) among their last set of five games, although a 12-point win doesn't look all that appealing when you consider Boston led by as many as 25 points.

Coincidence?

Unlikely.

Still, that doesn't explain away how an 18-point lead at Charlotte, the worst team in the NBA, is a game that wasn't really decided until the final minutes of the fourth quarter.

Bass attributes part of the challenge in burying a team like Charlotte, to how they view the C's coming to town.

"We know teams like the Bobcats, they mark us on the schedule," Bass said. "They look forward to playing against us. We knew they were going to fight, but we wanted to make sure we got the win."

The Celtics did just that.

But as the playoffs get closer, just winning games can't be enough. Because a number of Boston's opponents down the stretch don't have impressive records, the C's can't just win - they have to win playing well.

And the easiest way for that to happen, is to take control and not allow the game to get close once they establish control.

More than anything else, Boston's inability to bury teams after getting a sizable lead, comes down to being more consistent.

"We can't play in spurts," said C's Paul Pierce. "We're trying to build for the playoffs. It's good that we can build big leads. But the thing is, we give them up and feel like we can build them back up again. In order to win in the playoffs, you have to start building habits now. When you have a chance to put a team away, you gotta do it. That's where we're trying to get to."

Ehrhoff signs a PTO with the B's after World Cup

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Ehrhoff signs a PTO with the B's after World Cup

The Bruins will add another veteran defenseman to their training camp group fresh off the World Cup of Hockey as German D-man Christian Ehrhoff is headed to Boston on a PTO (professional tryout agreement). CSN has confirmed that Ehrhoff has indeed agreed to a PTO with the Bruins, and he'll report to the team sometime this weekend.

The 34-year-old Ehrhoff had three assists in six World Cup games for Team Europe, and had two goals and 10 points in 48 games for the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks last season while clearly starting to slow down a bit. He’s clearly no longer the player that averaged 14 goals and 47 points for the Vancouver Canucks from 2009-2011, and is another left-shot defenseman to add to a team that already has Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug.

But it behooved the Bruins to bring in at least one “name” veteran D-man on a tryout basis during this training camp with so many needs for upgrades on the back end, and with a host of young players that might not be ready for prime time. This might also be a warning sign for young veteran Joe Morrow, a left shot D-man that has struggled a bit in training camp after coming off an erratic first full season at the NHL level.

Clearly the Bruins need more than Ehrhoff, however, even if he’s somehow re-energized with the Bruins after playing pretty well in the World Cup. The Kings were down enough on his game to put him through waivers last season, but he was a top-4 defenseman for the previous eight seasons for San Jose, Vancouver, Buffalo and Pittsburgh prior to getting bounced around between the Kings and Blackhawks last season.

The added bonus with taking a look at Ehrhoff is that there’s no risk associated with a PTO, and the Bruins can simply walk away with no cost if the B’s coaching staff decides he’s not a good fit for the group in Boston. On the other hand, bringing in a Kris Russell-type would cost a great deal in terms of money and term in a free agent contract, and it might not benefit the Black and Gold club in the end result.