Garnett (hip flexor) out vs. Heat

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Garnett (hip flexor) out vs. Heat

BOSTON It looks like the Big Threes of Miami and Boston will be reduced to only one player - Paul Pierce - tonight.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he will sit LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh tonight, while C's coach Doc Rivers plans to give Kevin Garnett the night off as well.

Ray Allen is still nursing a right ankle injury, and was not going to play regardless. The C's will also be without Mickael Pietrus (right knee) and Greg Stiemsma (sore feet) tonight, although Pietrus is expected to play Thursday against the Milwaukee Bucks.

The decision to sit Garnett (hip flexor) wasn't one that Rivers wanted to do.

In fact, it was Garnett who approached Rivers about not playing tonight.

"I wanted to play him tonight," Rivers said. "My choice was more tonight and give him a day off Thursday. Kevin never comes in and when he comes in and says, 'I think I need two more days,' that speaks volumes."

So Rivers once again finds himself adapting his line-up, on the fly.

"You have your plans and sometimes they don't work," Rivers said. "This is one of them. When we looked at the schedule two weeks ago, we thought if we could lock up our division, the Atlanta game was the smart game to sit (players) because you had the three days off and the Miami game would be a great game to get them playing again right after a practice. Well that sounded great and looked great until the real life part of it came in and guys just weren't ready."

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

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Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious.