Mental toughness key down stretch for Celtics

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Mental toughness key down stretch for Celtics

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics travel itinerary has been dizzying.

In one week they have traveled from Boston, following a loss to the San Antonio Spurs last Wednesday, to Chicago (Thursdays loss to Bulls), Chicago to Indiana (Saturdays win against the Pacers), Indiana to Boston (Sundays win against the Philadelphia 76ers), Boston to Miami (Tuesdays win over the Heat), and Miami back to Boston for Wednesdays overtime win against the Atlanta Hawks.

After dropping two straight last week, they have won four games in five days against playoff contending teams. Aside from the physical aspect of logging an extensive numbers of minutes and miles, the Celtics also face a mental challenge to stay focused during this stretch.

Following their grind-it-out 88-86 win over the Hawks, in which there were 13 lead changes and 11 ties, Kevin Garnett (22 points, 12 rebounds) praised his teams mental toughness.

I think our concern tonight was more mental fatigue, Garnett said. Then again, you think about your summer workouts and these are the things that the workouts like that help you for moments like this -- for when you see doubt is right in front of you and you go through it.

Its good that we were able to mentally stay strong and fight the fatigue and come through and execute and make plays when we had to.

The schedule doesnt get any easier for the Celtics. On Thursday they will leave for a back-to-back-to-back road trip, playing the Toronto Raptors, New Jersey Nets, and Charlotte Bobcats over the weekend. Then it's off to New York, where they will play the Knicks next Tuesday before taking on the Orlando Magic in Boston the following night.

I think itll be fun, said Avery Bradley (7 points, 4 rebounds). We love the game of basketball. We are ready, getting ourselves mentally prepared. We are going into every game as hard as we can.

Bennett back at practice, but admits injuries hurting his play

Bennett back at practice, but admits injuries hurting his play

FOXBORO -- Martellus Bennett is willing to admit it. 

"Last week was probably my worst game as a Patriot," he told reporters in the locker room on Thursday. "But, you know, you have a bad game here and there. This week, come back grinding, and get ready."

Never was it more clear than on Sunday that Bennett has been hobbled by the injuries he's dealing with. He's coped with an ankle injury since Week 5 in Cleveland that has earned him the respect of his teammates and coaches, but against the Rams it appeared to severely impact his performance. 

He saw four targets and caught two for four yards. As a blocker -- the facet of his game that stood out more than his receiving ability early this season -- he was called for two holds and had difficulty keeping his assignments in check, both in the run game and in pass protection. 

Asked if he may benefit from a week off, Bennett said he planned to continue to play.

"I never thought about that. I just keep going," he said. "I'm like the energizer bunny. I just try to find a way. Sometimes it's [expletive] when you're out there playing with different injuries. You can't do a lot of things that you want to do. You have [expletive] plays. You might have a string of bad plays in a row just because youre dealing with different things . . . 

"But throughout the game you kind of find a way to get the job done. I think that's the biggest point. It may not be pretty all the time, but try to figure some kind of way to get it done. Sometimes it's adjusting as the game goes on."

He added: "The thing about this sport is it's always something. You never go throuigh a season without having some kind of nick or tear, but there's a lot of guys playing with different things. But some guys are able to play through different injuries, and [with] some of the same injuries, you see guys around the league . . . go on IR and things like that. But it just depends on the person and their pain tolerance."

Bennett was back at practice Thursday after he wasn't spotted there on Wednesday. He may be helped by the long week leading up to Monday's game against the Ravens. It could mean an extra day of rest and recovery.

Sometimes, he said, it's difficult not to be out there.

"Sometimes. Sometimes it's like, thank God. I needed that today," he said. "It varies each week. . . I'll fight through whatever and I think that's something that my teammates and coaches know about me that I'm going to try to give them everything I got no matter what."

Tim Thomas ranked one of top 40 goalies on very weird list

Tim Thomas ranked one of top 40 goalies on very weird list

The NHL Network is terrific. Its programming is the best of any of the four major sports leagues’ channels, its talent is outstanding and it shows a lot of cool games across various leagues.  

Players mess up though. 

In the network’s recently released ranking of the 40 best goaltenders of all time, the Bruins were well-represented, but so too was insanity. We’re talking Jonathan Quick in the top 20 (No. 16!), Marc-Andre Fleury top 25 (No. 21!) and Corey Crawford top 30 (No. 26!). Those are just a few of the head-scratchers. 

Tim Thomas was one of seven Bruins on the list, coming in at No. 27. Other Bruins ranked were Bernie Parent (No. 12), Frank Brimsek (No. 23), Rogie Vachon (No. 25), Tiny Thompson (No. 28), Gerry Cheevers (No. 29), Andy Moog (No. 36). Here's the full list, per Mark Lazerus. 

Statistically, Tuukka Rask deserves a place on this list if Fleury and Crawford are going to be that high, but we’ll save the Rask arguments for literally every other second of my life. 

[OK, real quick: Rask has the highest career save percentage of all time. Quick sits No. 17 and Fleury is 32nd. This doesn’t need to be completely statistics based, but it also shouldn’t be completely how-many-Cup-teams-were-on-based. Honestly, I can’t tell what this list is based on at all. Like Cristobal Huet had a better career save percentage than Fleury has.]

Anyway, everyone else hated the list, too.