Pavlovic paying big dividends

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Pavlovic paying big dividends

INDIANAPOLIS If you get to whatever arena the Boston Celtics are playing in early enough, you'll see first-hand the shooting clinic that Sasha Pavlovic puts on.

Before most games he's matched up against Avery Bradley, the C's best on-the-ball defender.

Those pre-game battles seem to be paying off nicely for both players, although Bradley's progress has been the one to garner most of the attention.

But in Saturday's 86-72 win over Indiana, Pavlovic's play was among the many reasons why the Celtics (31-24) snapped a two-game losing streak in addition to extending their lead over Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division, to two games.

Pavlovic played just over 14 minutes, but they were 14 highly productive minutes - especially in the first half.

That is when he scored all eight of his points off the bench, including a buzzer-beating jumper to end the first quarter.

"Every time Sasha gets in the game, he makes big plays," Bradley said. I tell him, we all try to keep his confidence up Sasha can shoot the ball. He always goes away from his (3-point shot) if he misses, but in this game he was confident and it showed. He made shots."

Especially in the second quarter, which is when the C's surged ahead by as many as 17 points with the bulk of the run coming with Pavlovic in the game.

"I was just ready to play," Pavlovic said. "I was executing the plays, and playing as hard as I can defensively. It was a good stretch for us."

With Mickael Pietrus (concussion) still out, C's coach Doc Rivers will likely turn to Pavlovic more often to spell Paul Pierce at the small forward position.

"We all have to be ready from the bench, every game," Pavlovic said. "It's a tough season; a lot of back-to-backs. Guys are going to need rest. We have to be ready."

And Pavlovic was indeed prepared to contribute not only as a scorer, but also with his defense on Danny Granger who had 20 points on 6-for-15 shooting.

"I just get out there and play as hard as I can," Pavlovic said. "That's all I'm thinking about."

And while it was his offense that caught the attention of many, he's quick to add that it is his play defensively that usually gets his offensive game on track.

"That's how I prepare myself," he said. "I play as hard as I can defensively. The offense is going to come."

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.