Bruins will host Caps in playoffs

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Bruins will host Caps in playoffs

It seemed that the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators were on a collision course to meet in the first round of the playoffs, but that wont be happening.

Instead it will be Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin and, yes, even Dennis Wideman invading Boston with the Washington Capitals as the Sens dropped three in a row while dropping all the way to the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins will host the Caps in Game 1 of the series Thursday night at TD Garden, but the Bs had to wait a solid two plus hours to finally learn their fates.

Either way it didnt matter to the Black and Gold, who said it was more about themselves than whichever team they were playing. One could make the argument that Ottawa turned down the intensity over the last week to step into a better matchup for them against the top-seeded Rangers after it seemed they were on track to play the Bruins since the middle of the season.

But Claude Julien gave that theory a flying elbow off the turnbuckle that Macho Man Randy Savage would have been proud of.

Thats the feel that there should be in the dressing room. Anybody who decides who they want as an opponent, whether its, you know, saying, Oh, Id rather play this team than that team, or plays to pick their own opponentsthey dont deserve to win. Thats the way -- this is a game. This is not wrestling, its not a fake sport, said Claude Julien. You dont go out there and pretend to play and make sure you lose because you want a certain team to play against. Karmas a pretty powerful thing, and I believe in doing the things right.

If were going to win, were going to have to beat every team that comes in our way, and thats the way weve approached it.

The Capitals provide an interesting opponent considering their star power and fully healthy Nicklas Backstroms return to the Washington lineup. Its fair to say Washington is much more talented than your run-of-the-mill No. 7 seed, and theyll provide a worthy first round opponent for the Black and Gold.

They also have their weaknesses. Injuries to Tomas Vokoun and Michael Neuvirth have left them with Braden Holtby as their only healthy goaltender during their 4-1 regular season finale win over the New York Rangers.

The Bruins were 1-2-1 this season against Washington with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand as their leading scorers in the four games with five points apiece.

Blake Griffin opts out of Clippers contract, becoming free agent

Blake Griffin opts out of Clippers contract, becoming free agent

According to multiple reports, Blake Griffin has opted out of his contract with the Clippers, making him a free agent. 

Griffin is considered one of the top free agents in a class that will also include Utah’s Gordon Hayward. The Celtics have been reported as possible suitors for both players. 

The first overall pick in the 2009 draft, the 28-year-old Griffin is a five-time All-Star, though injuries have limited him over the last three seasons. 

Over 61 games, the 6-foot-10 power forward averaged 21.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game last season. Between numerous injuries and a suspension for hitting a member of the Clippers’ equipment staff, Griffin was limited to just 31 games in the 2015-16 season. 

Adrian Wojnarowski said recently that Boston’s reception for Clippers teammate Paul Pierce made a very strong impression on Griffin. Though there might not necessarily be a connection between the two, Griffin said on Barstool Sports’ “Pardon My Take” that Boston is on his Mt. Rushmore of NBA cities. 

Tatum's sick final workout seals the deal for Celtics

Tatum's sick final workout seals the deal for Celtics

BOSTON -- Jayson Tatum was excited about working out for the Boston Celtics. 

But he knew that, health-wise, he wouldn’t be at his best. 

TATUM SPEAKS

 
He could have easily pulled out like others had, or just told the Celts in advance so they could take it into account when they were deciding on who to take with the No. 3 pick. 
 
Instead, he kept it to himself until after his workout, focused on doing what the best in the NBA do on a nightly basis -- finding a way to play their best when at their worst physically. 
 
“I wasn’t feeling well, but you can’t make excuses,” Tatum said during an interview with CSN’s Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely. “There can be times in the future where there’s a game or playoff game where you’re not feeling well. Nobody is going to care. You have to produce.”
 
Did. He. Ever. 
 
The workout didn’t just go well.  It ranked among the best Danny Ainge had seen, which made the decision for Boston to select the 6-foot-9 forward from Duke with the No. 3 pick an easy call. 
 
Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, had an eye on Tatum all season and acknowledged he had high expectations for him to perform at during his workout in Boston. 
 
“He was better than I actually thought,” Ainge said during the CelticsTalk Podcast with Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely. “Which was hard to do, because we thought highly of him before.”
 
During the workout, Ainge saw a young man who had worked on improving his perimeter shooting to the point where it was actually one of his stronger qualities. 
 
 “As I watched him play earlier in his life  . . . what he lacked was his range shooting,” Ainge said. “He was a very good mid-range player and good passer off the dribble. But the range shooting, what he showed us in the workout here was very impressive. We had two workouts with him. And in both of them, he was one of the best shooters in this whole draft at any position, and one of the best shooters we’ve had in here for any draft.”
 
Making Tatum’s workout all that more impressive was it came with him far from at his best health-wise, something the Celtics didn’t learn of until afterwards. 
 
“He wanted to be here from the very beginning, even before we got the number one pick,” Ainge said. “He wanted to be here. He came in here and showed it. He came on his workout and was sick. He was on antibiotics, nose was dripping and he didn’t complain. And he still played and played well. That was impressive, how much he showed, how much he wanted to be here.”
 
Tatum said his mindset coming into his workout was simple.
 
“I knew the draft pick was on the line,” Tatum said. “I had to really perform and I think I did really well.”