Thibodeau: Celtics playing at 'high level'

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Thibodeau: Celtics playing at 'high level'

BOSTON -- Tom Thibodeau has seen the Boston Celtics play championship-caliber basketball. He has also watched them struggle at times on the court.

After a slow start at the beginning of this season, the former Celtics assistant coach and current Chicago Bulls head coach believes the Cs are back on track.

Theyre very experienced and I think theyre playing at a very high level, Thibodeau said following the Celtics 95-91 win over the Bulls on Sunday. Even in the Lakers game (an 88-87 Celtics overtime loss), I thought they played very well and could have won that. Of course they won the nine out of ten -- Ill throw out the Toronto game (an 86-74 loss) because to me that was a scheduling game. Back-to-back, late start here, and then travel to Toronto, that was a tough game for them.

Theyre playing at a high level. When you have (Paul) Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin (Garnett), and (Rajon) Rondo running the team, their bench I think is playing very well, theyre getting a lot of contributions from a number of different people. So theyre going to be a dangerous team.

During the Bulls previous visit to Boston, in which they won 88-79, Thibodeau emphasized the impact Pierce has on the Celtics. Pierce was coming off a foot injury at the time and was still working to find his rhythm back on the court. Now that he has established it (he was recently named Eastern Conference Player of the Week), Thibodeau points to the Celtics captain as a major factor in their success.

He also noticed the improvements in the Celtics bench. Rookie JaJuan Johnson scored a career-high 12 points on Sunday and Chris Wilcox, moved to the starting lineup in place of an injured Jermaine ONeal, contributed 11 points and nine rebounds.

I think Paul is healthy, so thats the big thing, he said. Rondos healthy, Kevins been at a high level all year, and Rays had a spectacular year. But I think the big thing is their bench has had time now to get acclimated to their system and comfortable playing with each other. I think when you have a shortened camp like everybody did, if you have new players its going take time. But I think the big thing is Pauls health.

The Celtics (15-12) will face the Bulls (23-7) again on Thursday in Chicago.

Bruins lose preseason opener to Blue Jackets in shootout, 3-2

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Bruins lose preseason opener to Blue Jackets in shootout, 3-2

BOSTON – The Bruins ice a young lineup for their preseason opener against the Blue Jackets, and they got some solid results from the next generation of skaters ready to wear the Black and Gold. It wasn’t enough for the win, however, as Sam Gagner won the game in the shootout for the Blue Jackets by a 3-2 score after both Riley Nash and Jake DeBrusk dinged the left post with their first two shootout attempts.

DeBrusk, Danton Heinen, Brandon Carlo, Jakub Zboril and Austin Czarnik all had very strong games as young players vying for NHL roster spots with a couple of jobs potentially open at the NHL level.

DeBrusk set up Jimmy Hayes for Boston’s first goal, and Heinen redirected a Carlo point shot past Curtis McElhinney in the third period to tie things up.

Sonny Milano opened up the game’s scoring by beating Anton Khudobin to the short side on a play where the B’s backup goaltender was a little bit sloppy with his technique. Hayes scored to tie things up for the Black and Gold on a nifty transition play up the ice that embodied the “play fast” philosophy that Claude Julien is espousing.

Daniel Zaar added a goal for the Blue Jackets midway through the second period that again gave Columbus the slim one goal lead, but that evaporated in the final 20 minutes when Heinen redirected a Carlo point shot from the slot area past the Blue Jackets netminder.

The Bruins will get back at it with another home preseason game at TD Garden against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night. 

Former Celtics teammates praise Garnett's passion and intensity

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Former Celtics teammates praise Garnett's passion and intensity

WALTHAM, Mass. – Like so many players who have spent part of their NBA journey having Kevin Garnett barking in their ear words of encouragement or just telling them to get the hell out his (bleepin’) way, you can count Avery Bradley among those who will miss the man affectionately known as ‘Big Ticket.’

Garnett recently announced his retirement after 21 NBA seasons, leaving behind a legacy that includes an NBA title won with the Boston Celtics in 2008.

Among the current Celtics, Bradley is the only current member of the team who played with Garnett in Boston.

When Bradley got the news about Garnett’s retirement, he said he sat down and wrote Garnett a letter.

“To let him know how much I appreciate him, how special he is to me,” said Bradley who added that his relationship with Garnett was impactful both on and off the court. “Kevin’s just an amazing person.”

Leon Powe, a member of the Celtics’ championship team in 2008 with Garnett, echoed similar praise about his former teammate.

“As a teammate, as a player, KG meant the world to me,” Powe told CSNNE.com. “Intensity … he brought everything you would want to the game, to the practice field, he was just non-stop energy.”

And when you saw it time after time after time with him, pretty soon it became contagious.

“The intensity just motivated every guy on the team, including me,” Powe said. “It made you want to go out and lay it out on the line for him and the team. You see how passionate he is. You see he’s one of the greats. And when you see one of the greats of the NBA going hard like that all the time, you’re like ‘Man, why can’t I do that? It trickled down to me and every young guy on the team.

Powe added, “He brought that every single day, night, morning, it didn’t matter. He brought that intensity. That’s all you could ask for.”

And Garnett’s impact was about more than changing a franchise’s fortunes in terms of wins and losses.

He also proved to be instrumental in helping re-shape the culture into one in which success was once again defined by winning at the highest levels.

“KG has had as big an impact as anybody I’ve been around in an organization,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “The thing that stands out the most to me about KG is his team-first mentality. He never wanted it to be about KG, individual success to trump team success. He lived that in his day-to-day practice. That’s something I’ll remember about him.”