Celtics face off with potential first-round foe Sixers


Celtics face off with potential first-round foe Sixers

By A.Sherrod Blakely

BOSTON It's that time of year again when teams look at these final few games as tune-ups for the playoffs.

This could not be any truer for the Boston Celtics.

Among those teams is tonight's opponent, Philadelphia, a team that the Celtics would have to face in the first round of the playoffs if the season ended today.

These two have met three times, with the Celtics winning the first two meetings.

However, every game came down to the final minute with the total margin of victory in the three games totaling just eight points.

The last time these two met, the Sixers escaped with an 89-86 win.

Celtics guard Ray Allen recognizes that tonight's game may be a playoff preview of sorts for both teams.

But his motivation goes deeper than that.

"I'm mad that they beat us last time," said Allen, who had five points on 2-for-11 shooting in the loss on March 11. "That's got to be fresh on everybody's mind, knowing that we're at home and we have to right the ship."

Although Boston has the second-best home record (30-8) this season, they've dropped two of their last three at the TD Garden.

One of the few players who performed well for Boston in their three-point loss to the Sixers last month, was center Nenad Krstic. He had 16 points and a season-high 15 rebounds in the loss.

Krstic suffered a bone bruise to his right knee against San Antonio last week, and has missed Boston's last two games. He was able to practice with the team on Monday, and he will play tonight.

The news isn't as rosy for Shaquille O'Neal, who re-aggravated a strained right calf injury that sidelined him earlier this season. Celtics coach Doc Rivers said O'Neal might be back as early as the end of this week. On Friday, the C's host Washington.

But with only a handful of regular season games remaining, Rivers wouldn't rule out shutting down O'Neal until the start of the playoffs.

"If that's what it requires," Rivers said. "We're going to do whatever they (doctors) tell us is required. Other than that, I would love to play him a couple games."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Monday, March 27: Hall call for Habs' Markov?

Monday, March 27: Hall call for Habs' Markov?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, with crunch time coming in the NHL.

*Jack Todd says that the Hall of Fame needs to reserve a spot for Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov. Is he Hall of Fame material, or Hall of Very Good material?

*The playoff streak is coming to an end for Joe Louis Arena as the Detroit Red Wings finish out a lost season.

*Thanks to PHT writer James O’Brien for providing the kind of relaxing hockey moment that any dog lover could appreciate.

*Boston College standout Colin White has signed an amateur tryout deal with the Senators, but it remains to be seen if the entry level contract is coming.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mitch Melnick offers his hot takes about the Canadiens after a 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators.

*The US men’s hockey team may join the women’s team in boycotting the world championships if there isn’t a resolution soon.

*A group of longtime Leafs writers share some of their best stories from the press box

*In the shameless interest of self-promotion, here’s my hit with Toucher and Rich this morning talking about riding the hot hand with Anton Khudobin.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Tracey Myers wonders if a lopsided loss will snap the Blackhawks out of their malaise.

*Sidney Crosby fires back at Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk after he called the NHL star a whiner recently.

*For something completely different: getting to know new CSNPhilly.com baseball analyst John Kruk, who we all should know pretty well at this point.



Jaylen Brown steps away from social media to prepare for playoffs

Jaylen Brown steps away from social media to prepare for playoffs

BOSTON –  Like most of the NBA’s Millennials, Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown is active on social media.

But if you holla at him on Twitter or Instagram these days, don’t be surprised if you don’t hear back anytime soon.
That’s because Brown is stepping away from the social media game to better focus on his first postseason journey with the Celtics, which begins next month.
Brown said he isn’t the only player inside the Celtics locker room who has pledged to do things differently leading up to the playoffs.
More than anything, the changes Brown speaks of are symbolic to illustrate the need for everyone to make sacrifices critical for a team’s success.
“I’ve paid attention to that, how a lot of guys are making the sacrifices necessary to add to this team,” Brown said. “Some guys are only drinking water. Some guys are cutting out cursing or other aspects. Some guys have some personal stuff...Everybody is putting themselves in that mind frame to sacrifice for the betterment of the team.”
He added that taking a step back from social media was just one of a handful of changes he has made leading up to the playoffs.
“Some are personal, but some, just being a lot more focused and more locked in, eliminating distractions,” Brown told CSNNE.com. “This generation, we’re so social media dependent. So just eliminating that, filling that in with other stuff whether it’s gym time or film or just time to yourself instead of it being so predicated on the cell phone.”
Brown understands the battle Boston (48-26) is in for the top spot in the East heading into the playoffs and how important getting that would be to this team.

“It means a lot, especially being a rookie from my perspective, being on a team that’s number one seed in the East and being a contributor.” Brown said. “What more could you ask for, coming in to the league, coming into the NBA. It’s been great for me. It’s been a blessing.”
While Brown has had his share of ups and downs as a rookie, there’s no ignoring the fact that he’s progressing at a brisk rate.

“Offensively, I’m getting a little more comfortable scoring the ball; mid-range game, I’m developing,” he said. “Defensively, being in the right spot at the right time, stuff like that. I’ve come a long way and I still have a long way to go.”