Health concerns mount for C's heading into series-clincher


Health concerns mount for C's heading into series-clincher

BOSTON The Boston Celtics have a different kind of Big Three now - three players of concern for Doc Rivers.

As the C's head to Atlanta for a potential series-clinching matchup with Atlanta on Tuesday, they'll do so with at least three players whose status is iffy, at best.

Mickael Pietrus (hamstring), Paul Pierce (left knee) and Ray Allen (right ankle) are all questionable for Tuesday's Game 5 matchup.

Pietrus' injury occurred during the Celtics' 101-79 Game 4 win over Atlanta on Sunday.

"MP's hamstring, we had to take him out," said C's coach Doc Rivers.

And while Allen had another solid game (13 points) for the Celtics since returning to the lineup after missing the previous 11 games, Rivers isn't sure if the ankle injury that sidelined him will return and thus limit him or worse - make it so that he can't play in Game 5.

But Allen maintains that the injury woes in recent weeks - for now at least - appear to be a thing of the past.

"I feel surprisingly great," Allen said. "I'm really managing my off days really well."

And he'll look to continue doing that on Monday, a day in which the C's will travel to Atlanta but will not practice.

"Traveling takes a toll on your body being in the air," Allen said. "I think everybody's going to deal with some type of swelling. You know getting into the hotel and just staying off your feet is huge."

The player that the C's are probably most concerned about now is Pierce, who had a game-high 24 points in less than 17 minutes of action on Sunday.

The left knee injury he suffered in Game 5 was actually re-aggravated from an injury he suffered during the C's shoot-around on Sunday morning.

C's coach Doc Rivers was as surprised as anyone that Pierce was able to play, let alone play so well on Boston's Game 4 win.

"When I left shoot-around, I probably thought he (Pierce) was not going to play," Rivers said.

And the injury, Rivers said, was such a fluke one, too.

"He was just dribbling the ball and went to the floor in shoot-around," Rivers recalled. "And I was thinking, "What more can you ? We were walking (throughout most of the shoot-around). You know, that's how you felt, like, my gosh. And honestly, when he went down, it didn't look good.So the fact that he could come in and play, and play the way he played was great."

As far as whether he'll play in Game 5, Rivers said, "I have no idea. You know, with a couple of guys - actually three of them - we literally don't know. So we'll find out."

Bruins need to "find a way to start playing with a lead"

Bruins need to "find a way to start playing with a lead"

BOSTON -- There’s only so long that a team can hope to thrive, or even survive, in the NHL if they’re constantly chasing the game on the scoreboard, and chasing the puck after digging themselves a hole. The Bruins have been that team in the first couple of weeks during the regular season, and made it five times in five games that they’ve given up the game’s first goal in an eventual 4-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden.

It’s a pattern that is long past getting old to Bruins head coach Claude Julien, who can’t seem to play the front-runner this season despite three comebacks that have allowed for a 3-2-0 record overall this season.

“I hope it’s not a habit. It’s certainly not what we’re looking for, but there’s no doubt. I think it’s pretty obvious that with the amount of games we’ve played, five games, we haven’t scored first,” said Julien. “We talked about that this morning, trying to get that first goal, and it hasn’t happened yet.”

The start to the game wasn’t really the problem on Saturday night as it’s been a couple of times this season. Instead the Bruins enjoyed a handful of quality scoring chances in the opening 20 minutes against the Habs, but couldn’t come through and finish off those plays when it might have meant an early lead.

Instead it lead to what Julien termed a “terrible” second period that was flat, full of mistakes and ended with the B’s trailing Montreal by a couple of goals. The Bruins scratched and clawed their way to making it a one-goal game in the third period, but that was as close as the Black and Gold would get in losing their ninth straight home game to the arch-rival Canadiens.

“It’s kind of been a story about how things are going for us this far, we’ve got to find a way to start playing with a lead. If you don’t capitalize on your chances, you see what happens when you come out [flat] in the second period,” said Torey Krug, who finished a game-worst minus-3 in the loss for the Bruins. “We had another poor second period and you know it’s kind of… you got to make sure that we put our hand on that and it doesn’t become a thing for the team this year. You see that when you don’t capitalize on chances early, that’s what’s going to happen.”

It’s been a positive development that the Bruins have shown the willingness and backbone to fight back into games after early deficits, and they showed that quality once again on Saturday night by scoring a couple of goals in the third period to keep things close. But the Bruins would be best served if they can start lighting the lamp a little earlier in these games, and see how the other half lives by playing with a comfortable lead every once in a while.