Celtics-Wizards review: What we saw . . .

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Celtics-Wizards review: What we saw . . .

BOSTON The Boston Celtics have proven to be one of the NBA's top teams in limiting opponents scoring in the first quarter. There's good defense, and there's shut 'em down defense that was on full display in Boston's 88-76 win over Washington. The C's shot an impressive 63.2 percent in the first quarter, but even more impressive was their ability to limit the Wizards to just 13.6 percent shooting from the field in the first which generated a paltry 12 points - the fewest an opponent has scored against the C's in the first quarter of a game this season.

Such out-the-gate dominance was indeed a major factor in the Celtics extending their season-best home winning streak to six in a row.

But there were other factors that played a role in the game's outcome. We highlighted a few keys to the game before tip-off. Now we'll review how those actually played in Boston's victory which gave them a four-game regular season sweep of the Wizards - the first time that has happened since 1982.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR - Boston has been surprisingly efficient offensively of late to start games. In their last two games, Boston has averaged 33.5 points per game in the first quarter, a significant bump over their 22.7 points per game average, 26th in the NBA, that they have scored in the first this season. In Washington, Boston faces a Wizards team that has had its struggles defensively in every quarter. But their first quarter scoring defense (25.3 points per game, No. 24 in the NBA) is actually their best in terms of where it ranks compared to the rest of the NBA.

WHAT WE SAW - After scoring 21 points after about eight minutes of play, the C's could muster just six for the remainder of the first quarter. While they failed to reach the 30-point plateau, their dominance was still significant as Washington could only score 12 points in the quarter - that's about half of their season average (23.4 points per game).

MATCHUP TO WATCH - Kevin Garnett vs. Nene: This is where Garnett's ability to stretch a defense with his perimeter shooting skills comes in handy. Nene is a strong, bullish big man who seems to have adjusted to a Wizards system that's built more for what he does best - score with his back to the basket. In his three games with Washington since being traded from Denver, Nene has averaged 16.3 points and 8.7 rebounds.

WHAT WE SAW - Nene (back spasms) was a late scratch, so fans had to settle for a Garnett-Kevin Seraphin matchup. I know, not quite the same. Garnett didn't have the hot hand, but in typical Garnett fashion, he found other ways to make an impact besides scoring. He had 10 points on 3-for-10 shooting, but he also had six assists, five rebounds and two steals.

PLAYER TO WATCH - Although his numbers might suggest different, Marquis Daniels is gradually getting back to being a contributor to the Celtics' second unit. With Mickael Pietrus (concussion) expected to not play in the next couple games, along with Ray Allen (left ankle) questionable, Daniels may in fact see his role expand soon. After having played a total of 19 minutes this month, Daniels has played 20 minutes in each of the Celtics' last two games. In those two games, he has averaged seven points and 2.5 rebounds while shooting 55.6 percent from the field.
WHAT WE SAW - Daniels saw playing time and is clearly back in the rotation ahead of Sasha Pavlovic. He played nearly 17 minutes, finishing with two points, two rebounds and two assists.

STAT TO TRACK - With the Celtics thin on bodies, keep an eye on team fouls for both teams. This season, Boston is committing 20.2 fouls per game which ranks in the league's bottom-10, at No. 21. Fortunately for Boston, they face a Washington team that's used to being in foul trouble as well. They too are ranked among the NBA's bottom-10, averaging 21.5 fouls per game which ranks No. 26 in the league.
WHAT WE SAW - Because of the lopsided nature of the game, foul trouble was never really an issue for either team. Avery Bradley, who had arguably the toughest defensive assignment in dealing with Jordan Crawford, had four fouls. As a team, the C's committed just 18. Meanwhile, Washington had three players (Chris Singleton, Kevin Seraphin and Jan Vesely) who each had four personal fouls. And like the C's, they too were whistled for 18 team fouls.

Charlie McAvoy tweeted he hates the Bruins 'so much' in 2013

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Charlie McAvoy tweeted he hates the Bruins 'so much' in 2013

Tweet hunters dug up an old message from a Charlie McAvoy proclaiming his hatred for the Boston Bruins. McAvoy, of course, was drafted 14th by the Bruins in the 2016 NHL Draft.

The tweet read, "I hate the bruins so much" before it was quickly deleted.

I'm sure this will go over well for Bruins fans, even though you really can't blame McAvoy. He was just 15 at the time and a fan of the Rangers, who went down 3-0 in the playoffs against the Bruins.

As fans, we can all relate to that feeling.

Bruins take BU defenseman Charlie McAvoy with the 14th pick in 2016 NHL Draft

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Bruins take BU defenseman Charlie McAvoy with the 14th pick in 2016 NHL Draft

BUFFALO – The Bruins took their highest-rated defenseman when the pick came to them at the No. 14 spot, and they selected Boston University defenseman Charlie McAvoy, who tore up Hockey East as the young player in college hockey last season.

The 18-year-old Charlie McAvoy had three goals and 25 points in37 games for the Terriers while skating in a pairing with Bruins prospect Matt Grzelcyk, and showed off the kind of elite skating and offensive skills that will play well at the NHL level. It was thought the Bruins would take McAvoy or fellow BU-recruit Dante Fabbro at the 14th spot when they held onto the pick, but that was perhaps shaken a little bit when Jakub Chychrun fell all the way down to their spot.

The Bruins stuck with their scouting instincts and took the offensively gifted McAvoy, who profiles as a next generation NHL player with his sturdy six foot, 208-pound frame and ability to skate like the wind. He was understandably excited, and even said that he’s come around from hating some of the Boston teams as a native New Yorker after spending the year at Boston University.

“I’m at a loss for words. It’s an unbelievable feeling, and I’m just so happy to be a part of the Bruins. I’ve gotten close to [the Bruins] in the past year. I’m sure some of my friends back home aren’t happy I’m cutting the ties with New York sports, but Boston is an unbelievable city with great sports and great people. I’m glad to be staying there,” said McAvoy. “You grow up and taught not to like [Boston teams] because of the rivalry. But I've got a Red Sox hat and that’s the first step. Now I'm got that Bruins jersey and it’s pretty cool. I’ll just keep going, but I don’t know if I could ever be a Pats fan, but we’ll see."

Give McAvoy a little time and perhaps he’ll come around to the right side of the New England Patriots argument after some years spent with the Black and Gold.  

Joe Haggerty can be followed on Twitter: @HacksWithHaggs

OFFSEASON

Northeastern's Walker, Ford sign with NBA teams after going undrafted

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Northeastern's Walker, Ford sign with NBA teams after going undrafted

The NBA will have more of a Northeastern flavor this season.

The Huskies' star guard David Walker is joining the Miami Heat for the NBA's summer league in Orlando and Las Vegas, according to Sports Illustrated's Jake Fischer.

Walker averaged 17.9 points and 4.0 assists per game as a senior at Northeastern.

Quincy Ford is heading to the Utah Jazz with a partially guaranteed three-year contract after averaging 16.4 points, 7 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game as a senior. That deal was first reported by The Vertical's Shams Charania.