B's Subban struggles, gets pulled in loss to U.S.

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B's Subban struggles, gets pulled in loss to U.S.

Its been a rocky road with peaks and valleys for Bruins first round pick Malcolm Subban during his World Junior experience, and he endured a serious drop in a 5-1 loss to Team USA on Thursday afternoon. Subban was pulled after allowing four goals on 16 shots in the first two periods, and replaced with backup backstop Jordan Binnington, who allowed only a single goal the rest of the way.

Boston College forward Johnny Gaudreau had a pair of goals for Team USA in the victory that puts them in the Gold Medal game, and is making the Calgary Flames look very smart for nabbing him with a fourth round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft.

While it wasnt all Subbans fault, of course, it makes for a disappointing bookend to the Belleville goaltenders shaky start to the World Junior season. Heading into Canadas final game on Saturday Subban has a 4-1 record with a .908 save percentage and 2.64 goals against average, and has been outplayed by his counterparts in Russia, the United States and Sweden.

Fellow Bruins first round pick Dougie Hamilton was on the ice for the first goal allowed to Team USA, and it was a defensive mess in front of Subbans net. The 6-foot-5 blueliner ticketed to Boston when the lockout finally does come to an end certainly didnt fare much better than Subban in a World Junior tourney that he should have dominated.

Heading into the final game against Russia, Hamilton has two points and a modest nine shots on net in five tournament games.

Above and beyond all of that Team Canada had the best player in the entire tourney, Edmonton Oilers stud Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but none of that seemed to matter for a team that simply didnt have it in a crucial semi-final game.

Subban struggled out of the gate during exhibition play for Team Canada, and there was some question whether hed even make the squad out of training camp.

But Subban rebounded and had been playing solidly for his country until his club met a Team USA that came out flying in their match in Ufa, Russia. So now Subbans Team Canada will face off against host Team Russia on Saturday for the Bronze Medal while Team USA and Sweden will battle for the Gold.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

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Celtics-Raptors preview: Ibaka is 'capable of changing the game'

Celtics-Raptors preview: Ibaka is 'capable of changing the game'

TORONTO – The decision to stand pat at the trade deadline for the Boston Celtics was made in part because they felt that as their roster is constructed, they can hold their own with anybody.

We’re going to find out just how true that is tonight as they face a revamped Toronto Raptors team that added a couple of notable players via trade, chief among them being Serge Ibaka from Orlando.

“That was a really good trade for them,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “Bringing in a guy like Serge Ibaka; a defender, a four-man that can switch out on guards. A guy that can space the floor, shoot the 3.  So that was a good addition. I’m excited to see how that’s gonna work other than tomorrow.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was also impressed with the Ibaka trade.

“That’s an improvement; there’s no question about it,” Stevens said. “Now you can play a number of different ways. He’s a really good player; he’s very agile. He’s a very good shooter. You can play him or (Patrick) Patterson at the four (power forward) the entire game now. You can play them together as a small-ball four and five (center). It gives them a lot of options on offense and defense.”

While praise for Ibaka is nothing new, you have to remember there were reasons as to why the Magic decided to give up on him so quickly, something even more hard to understand considering the assets they gave up (Victor Olidipo and a 2016 first-round pick used to select Domantas Sabonis, among others) to acquire him.

The Magic decided that they would not be in the running to re-sign Ibaka when he hits the free agent market this summer; this coming after the Thunder traded him primarily because they did not plan on giving him the near-max contract he’ll be seeking. So rather than play out this season and lose him for nothing, the Magic decided to trade him while they still could get something (Terrence Ross) in return.

While in Orlando, Ibaka averaged a career-high 15.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots per game. For his career (all prior to this season spent in Oklahoma City), he’s averaging 11.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.

But he never seemed to provide the kind of impactful, difference-making play that Orlando was seeking.

And while the Celtics speak highly of Ibaka, he hasn’t been much of a problem for the Celtics this season.

In two games against Boston, Ibaka has averaged 6.0 points and 4.0 rebounds.

Jae Crowder believes the struggles Ibaka has endured against the Celtics, are not a clear reflection of what he’s capable of doing as a player.

“For sure it makes them better,” said Crowder in describing the Raptors with Ibaka. “He’s a guy that can stretch the floor and rebound at a high rate. We know what he brings to the table.”

And those struggles we saw of him with the Magic?

“I think it was him more so than us,” Crowder said. “I give him credit because he wasn’t playing with the energy and passion he usually brings. I’ve been able to line up against him a quite a few times.  He didn’t have that passion like he did when he was in O-K-C (Oklahoma City). Maybe he’ll have it now. I know exactly what he’s capable of doing; he’s capable of changing the game with his play.”