Bruins know they can't take Sabres lightly

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Bruins know they can't take Sabres lightly

BUFFALO -- Claude Julien has pointed out in recent days that the Bruins need to do a better job focusing in games against teams out of the playoff race.

There is good reason for that.

The B's have 16 regulation losses on the season, and 10 of them have come against non-playoff teams. That speaks to a loss of focus against lesser teams, and difficulty keeping their level of play consistent regardless of the opponent.

Of course the Bruins are Stanley Cup champs and theyve already experienced epic clashes with the class of the league this season. Their games against the Flyers, Rangers, Penguins, Canucks and Red Wings were all days when the Black and Gold put their best foot forward.

But with teams scratching and clawing to say alive as the regular-season schedule begins to shrink in the dog days of February, points became more difficult to come by and Buffalo should be a great example of that on Wednesday night at the First Niagara Center.

Theyre playing well right now. The first two games we played against them were good games and were not expecting anything different, said Chris Kelly. They want to move up the standings just like we do. If you look there are a lot of three point games at this time of year and teams are bearing down.

If theres a chance for at least one point then you better believe both teams are going to get that point. There are no easy points in the second half and that hasnt been a secret for years.

Julien is fully aware that the Sabres have won three of their last four games, and are in the last gasps of their playoff hopes. Buffalo sits 11 points behind Ottawa for the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, but does hold some games in hand.

The Sabres also still hold quite a healthy bit of ill will for the Bruins after Milan Lucic took out Ryan Miller with an open ice collision thats seemingly set Buffalos season on a spiraling path ever since.

Every team is battling to stay in the playoffs or for a playoff spot, said Julien. We expect every team from here on in until the trade deadline, at least, to be very hard to play against; even after that there will be teams looking to be spoilers and guys fighting for jobs on teams that wont be making the playoffs.

The rest will be about fighting for position. I dont think there will be any easy games from here on in.

It sounds like it should be a fun ride for the rest of the season with the grind portion of the regular season officially entered.

Celtics engaged in talks with Pacers for Paul George

Celtics engaged in talks with Pacers for Paul George

BOSTON – Jayson Tatum was all smiles after hearing his named called by NBA commissioner Adam Silver as the number 3 pick by Boston in Thursday night’s NBA draft.

And as he made his way towards the commissioner and put on the customary Celtics hat, a bright future surely awaited him.

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But is it going to be in Boston?

CSNNE.com confirmed an earlier report by Yahoo Sports! the Vertical that the Celtics were indeed engaged in trade talks with the Indiana Pacers for Paul George.

Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is no stranger to taking chances that most GMs would not consider or take a pass on.

Trading for George, who informed the Pacers that he would not re-sign a long-term deal with them and would instead prefer to play for the Los Angeles Lakers when he hits free agency in the summer of 2018, is a huge risk.

While the particulars of the possible trade are still being discussed, Boston will likely have to include the number three pick – Jayson Tatum – in a deal for George.

Ainge appears willing to gamble that a season in Boston will be enough to convince George to re-sign a long-term deal in the summer of 2018 which would be a win-win in terms of bolstering their chances to compete with Cleveland for Eastern Conference supremacy, and keep him away from the Lakers.

Jayson Tatum: Coach K was effusive in praise of Brad Stevens

Jayson Tatum: Coach K was effusive in praise of Brad Stevens

Celtics draft pick Jayson Tatum will go from one highly regarded coach to another, and he said shortly after being drafted that Mike Krzyzewski had nothing but good things to say about Brad Stevens. 

Tatum said Coach K’s praise for Stevens came after the Celtics traded the first overall pick, thus establishing they would not be selecting Markelle Fultz. 

“He called me and talked about that Boston was wanting me to come up there for a workout. He was just ranting about how great of a person Brad Stevens is, and [that] Coach K would love the opportunity if they would pick me and he really wanted me to go up there and work out for them,” Tatum said. “I was all for it. It worked out. I had a great time up there on my visit and obviously they enjoyed me.”

Krzyzewski and Stevens coached against each other in the 2010 national championship, which Duke won by two points when Gordon Hayward’s potential game-winning half-court shot nearly went in, but hit the rim. Hayward and Stevens could be reunited this offseason given that the veteran forward will be a free agent.

Tatum spent one year at Duke, averaging 16.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.