Pierce finally finding his rhythm

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Pierce finally finding his rhythm

BOSTON Paul Pierce has to go.

He's too old, too slow, too out of shape to give the Boston Celtics what they've come to expect from him.

Go out and get Memphis' O.J. Mayo, Atlanta's Josh Smith, somebody -- anybody -- before Pierce's trade value dips any lower, some said.

The rumblings to make a major change steadily grew as the Celtics losses mounted, but coach Doc Rivers remained committed. When Pierce's health and conditioning improved, Rivers said, he would start playing like the Paul Pierce fans have come to love.

That time appears to have arrived, as the Celtics (7-9) are in the middle of their best stretch of play this season.

Monday night's 31-point beatdown of the Orlando Magic was Boston's second straight win, and third in the last four games.

And the key to that success? Paul Pierce.

In the last four games, Pierce has averaged 18.3 points, 7.5 assists and five rebounds while shooting 45 percent from the field.

But the numbers only tell part of the story about how Pierce has willed this Celtics team back into, at the very least, what looks like a playoff contender.

Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, was not surprised that Pierce struggled to start the season.

"He had zero training camp," Ainge told CSNNE.com, referring to the right heel injury that forced Pierce to miss all but one practice in training camp as well as the first three regular season games.

"And even when he came back, he wasn't 100 percent. It's a credit to Paul that he's out there playing, and he's trying to get himself in shape and trying to do what he can to help our team."

Making matters even more complicated was a report that teams were calling the C's to see about Pierce's availability.

"You can't pay attention to that," Pierce said. "That's part of the business. You just gotta do your job as a professional each and every day. That's about it."

Lately, that's exactly what the Truth has done for the Celtics who will face Orlando Thursday -- a team that they embarrassed in every way imaginable on Monday.

The Magic scored a franchise-low 56 points, the kind of performance nobody saw coming when you consider the Celtics were without their starting backcourt of Ray Allen (ankle) and Rajon Rondo (wrist), along with three key reserves.

"They came out and just absolutely dominated us with their energy and their defensive intensity," Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy said after the loss. "That's the most dominating defensive performance I have ever had against me.

Van Gundy added, "It's the first game in my career I've been through where not one guy played well. We didn't have one guy. That was an absolute beat-down, and in most senses it was much worse than the score indicated."

And while it was the C's defense that carried the day, Pierce's play was once again instrumental in Boston getting its first win of the season over a team with a winning record.

"Throughout this short season, it's funny how people expect you to start off perfect," said Boston's Kevin Garnett. "It's really a testament to Paul, who he is and what people know him to be. You have no idea how hard it is to get ready for an NBA season, to prepare, drills, sand hills, sand dunes, lines, running, weights, beach, 4:30 a.m. workouts, two-a-days it's still not an NBA game.

Garnett added, "You can do all that stuff, you can do all the conditioning and stuff and all the shooting that you want; it's still not an NBA game."

As far as Pierce's early struggles, Garnett reiterated Ainge's thoughts on Pierce playing through the right heel injury.

"People wrote him off, which was funny," Garnett said. "But it gave some clarity to how people see him. He's in a rhythm now. He's never shy of confidence. He's the Truth. It's good to see him playing good basketball. He's always been our leader since I been here, and he will always be our leader. That's what it is."

Rask missing from Bruins practice after Sunday exit

Rask missing from Bruins practice after Sunday exit

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- A day after exiting a 5-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins with complications from migraines, Tuukka Rask was missing from a full Bruins team practice at Warrior Ice Arena prior to Tuesday night’s home date against the Detroit Red Wings.

Rask pulled himself out of the game midway through the second period with his team trailing after he’d stopped 20-of-22 shots, and was motioning toward his eyes as he exited for the Bruins dressing room. The Bruins goalie confirmed to reporters following the deflating loss that he indeed was suffering from ocular issues consistent with migraines, the same issue that knocked him out of a home loss to the Rangers a couple of years ago.

The Bruins brought in an emergency goalie to practice with the team on Monday along with backup netminder Zane McIntyre, who allowed three goals in the third period on the way to the Bruins imploding in Pittsburgh.

Both Colin Miller and Kevan Miller returned to practice on Monday morning, and the Bruins coaches shook up the forward lines after they were only able to cobble together one goal on 45 shots on Sunday afternoon. Torey Krug was also missing from practice along with Rask.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings based on Monday morning’s practice that started roughly an hour late due to the team doing some video work together:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

Vatrano-Krejci-Backes

Schaller-Nash-Beleskey

Spooner-Moore-Czarnik/Hayes

Chara-Carlo

Liles-McQuaid

K. Miller-C. Miller

Morrow

McIntyre 
 

Brady makes 'The Hangover' reference, calls QB group his wolf pack

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Brady makes 'The Hangover' reference, calls QB group his wolf pack

Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett are starting to make a habit of this.

After clinching the AFC East title during the regular season, they made sure to grab a picture together that they could throw on their respective social-media pages. They did the same again on Sunday night. 

Sporting their brand new AFC Championship hats -- and Brissett, who didn't dress for the game, in a championship t-shirt -- the trio posed in front of their lockers like the three best friends that anyone could have.

When Brady posted the shot on his Instagram page Monday morning, he captioned it with a speech from the movie "The Hangover," calling Garoppolo and Brissett part of his "wolf pack."