Celtics-Raptors review: What we saw

659616.jpg

Celtics-Raptors review: What we saw

BOSTON The game clock could not count down soon enough in Boston's 100-64 win over the Toronto Raptors. This was one of the few times this season we've seen the Celtics take control of a game from the outset and show no signs of letting up, no cracks to speak of. In games like this, there are a number of players whose game sticks out.

Among the standout performers were Avery Bradley and E'Twaun Moore, who are filling the void created by Rajon Rondo's right wrist injury that has now sidelined him for eight straight games.

Late-game execution is one of those things both young guards need to improve upon.

But to their credit -- and the rest of the Celtics -- there was no need to be precise in executing in the game's final moments.

The execution of the Toronto Raptors had long been completed before the fourth quarter rolled around.

It wouldn't be worth it go into all that went the C's way on Wednesday night.

But there is value in examining the keys identified prior to the game, and seeing how those played out.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Say what you want about Jermaine O'Neal, but there's no disputing the presence he provides defensively when he's healthy. When facing teams with smaller lineups, the C's need to continue to find ways to get him involved because far too often, teams forget about him at the offensive end of the floor. And the C's and O'Neal made the Cavaliers pay for that, as he tallied 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting which included three dunks.

WHAT WE SAW: Foul trouble and the fact that the game was over by halftime, both resulted in O'Neal playing limited minutes. He still had six points on 3-for-4 shooting, along with three rebounds and a blocked shot. Getting a blowout win and needing O'Neal for just under 14 minutes is the kind of game that the C's would love to have all the time.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett vs. James Johnson: One of Garnett's greatest strengths -- being unselfish -- could be a huge weakness in this matchup. Johnson can not guard Garnett. It's that simple. And the sooner Garnett gets it into his head that he can get pretty much whatever he wants over Johnson, the better off the C's will be.
WHAT WE SAW: Because of the lopsided nature of things, this battle never really materialized. James Johnson had seven points, but he missed eight of his 11 shots before fouling out in the fourth quarter. As for Garnett, had played just under 17 minutes and finished with seven points, five rebounds and four assists.

PLAYER TO WATCH: DeMar DeRozan is playing the small forward position, but he's really more of a shooting guard with size. With Andrea Bargnani (strained left calf) out, DeRozan has become their primary scorer which means Paul Pierce's best contributions today may not necessarily be in his scoring but how he limits DeRozan's point production.

WHAT WE SAW: Even though the absence of Andrea Bargnani means more shot attempts for DeRozan, he has to become a more efficient scorer for his points to have true value. He led the Raptors in shot attempts (12), but he misfired on nine of his attempts.

STAT TO TRACK: The magic number tonight for the Boston Celtics has to be 90. When the Raptors are held below to 90 points or less scored this season, they are 0-11.

WHAT WE SAW: Boston's defense continues to crush weak teams like the Raptors. With a lead that peaked at 40, Boston's defense never allowed Toronto to get into any kind of flow or rhythm. With injuries to key players and a roster that's not overly impressive even when at full strength, Toronto had no chance at winning let alone making the game competitive.

Rask stops 35 shots in Bruins' 2-1 win over Sabres

boston-bruins-tuukka-rask-sabres-120316.jpg

Rask stops 35 shots in Bruins' 2-1 win over Sabres

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Tuukka Rask made 35 saves to help the Bruins hold off the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Saturday

David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron scored to give Boston a 2-0 lead and the Bruins improved to 3-0-1 in their past four.

Evander Kane scored his first goal of the season for Buffalo. Robin Lehner returned after missing one game with a hip injury and made 32 saves.

The Sabres combined for nine goals in their previous two wins but the NHL's lowest-scoring team reverted to form from the first 21 games, when star center Jack Eichel was out of the lineup with a high-ankle sprain.

Krejci got the Bruins on the scoreboard with 5:50 left in the first when he deflected Brandon Carlo's slap shot from the point off the right post and into the net.

The Sabres appeared to tie the game late in the second period but replays determined Brian Gionta kicked the puck into the net.

Bergeron made it 2-0 at 7:10 of the second at 7:44 of the third when he knocked on the rebound of his own missed shot. Bergeron initially hit the puck with his forearm on the left edge of the crease and skated around the net to chase down the puck and slip a backhand past Lehner.

The Sabres answered two minutes later, scoring on Rask for the first time in 109:12 this season. Sam Reinhart's feed off the rear wall set up Kane for a wrist shot from the slot that bounced in off Krejci. Reinhart has five points in his last four games.

NOTES: Bruins F Matt Beleskey was escorted to the dressing room in the final minute of the first period with a lower-body injury and did not return. ... Sabres D Josh Gorges did not play after injuring his foot blocking a shot in Thursday's win over the New York Rangers. With Dmitry Kulikov (lower back) and Zach Bogosian (MCL sprain) also out, the Sabres were down three of their top four defenseman and recalled 19-year-old Brendan Guhle from the minors to make his NHL debut. Guhle hustled back to thwart a breakaway by Krejci late in the third period. ... F Anton Blidh became the seventh Bruin to make his NHL debut this season after being recalled from the minors on Friday. ... The Bruins scratched F Jimmy Hayes. D Zdeno Chara, the Bruins' captain, missed his sixth straight game with a lower-body injury. ... Rask got a shutout in Boston's 4-0 win over Buffalo on Nov. 7.

UP NEXT

Bruins: Host Florida on Monday.

Sabres: At Washington on Monday.

 

© 2016 by STATS and The Associated Press.

Gronkowski put on IR, officially ending his season

Gronkowski put on IR, officially ending his season

The Patriots have placed Rob Gronkowski on injured reserve, officially ending the injured tight end's season. 

The Patriots have added running back D.J. Foster to the 53-man roster. 

Gronkowski underwent surgery on his back Friday in Los Angeles. There was some hope he might be able to return if the Patriots reached the Super Bowl, but this move ends that.

More to come...