Celtics already honing their playoff rotation


Celtics already honing their playoff rotation

MIAMI The playoffs are just a couple of weeks away for the Boston Celtics. And if you're wondering what their playoff rotation is going to look like, no need to worry about that.

The C's have been going with essentially a playoff-like rotation the past few games, which isn't that unusual this time of year.

Boston is basically going eight players deep with one big man (Greg Stiemsma), a wing player (Sasha Pavlovic) and a guard (Ray Allen).

Those were the only non-starters to play in Boston's 86-72 win at Indiana on Saturday. The Celtics went 11-deep in Sunday's 103-79 win over Philadelphia, but that had more to do with the lopsided nature of the game.

Marquis Daniels has been on both sides of the playoff rotation equation.

"The big thing is you always have to stay ready," said Daniels who is currently out of the regular rotation. "You never know when you're going to get your number called. That's why you see me sometimes staying late, working on my game, so that whenever Doc (Rivers) needs me, I'll be ready to play."

Although he's only a rookie, Stiemsma has adopted a similar mindset.

It helped him get through those long stretches earlier this season when he wasn't playing. And it allows him to have a greater appreciation for where he's at now.

"Whether you're playing or not, you have to come into every game expecting to play," Stiemsma said. "That's one of the great things about being on this team, with a bunch of great guys, great veterans; their preparation. They come ready to play, every night. So when you get out there, you better be ready to play because you don't want to let your teammates down or anything."

While the Celtics are prepared to go into the postseason with this eight-man rotation, you can count on it being expanded when Mickael Pietrus (concussion) returns.

Rivers told reporters prior to Sunday's win over Philadelphia that Pietrus had already passed one of the required tests in order to be allowed back on the floor.

Shortly after Pietrus' concussion, which occurred in Philadelphia on March 23, Rivers was hopeful to have him back in the fold for the playoffs. But if Pietrus continues to progress at this rate, there is a possibility that he could be back in the lineup before the regular season is over.

And that would give the C's even more depth, something no team will refuse as it heads into the playoffs.

Royer's late goal rallies Red Bulls past Revolution, 2-1


Royer's late goal rallies Red Bulls past Revolution, 2-1

HARRISON, N.J. - Daniel Royer finished a nice sequence in the 74th minute, Luis Robles made a diving save in the closing minutes and the New York Red Bulls rallied to beat the New England Revolution 2-1 on Saturday night.

Felipe sent the ball left to Kemar Lawrence alongside the box and he put a cross to Royer on the back post for an easy finish on his fourth goal.

Robles, who only allowed Lee Nguyen's penalty kick in the ninth minute, preserved the win with his fourth save, diving to his left to block Diego Fagundez's shot from outside the box.

Bradley Wright-Phillips tied it for New York (6-6-2), which was winless in its last four matches, when he pounced on a loose ball and backheeled it into the net. New England goalkeeper Cody Cropper had pounced on a cross by Kemar Lawance, but Cropper could hold on and Wright-Phillips was there to clean up for his sixth goal.

Damien Perrinelle fouled Fagundez in the penalty area after a great pass from Kei Kamara, allowing Nguyen to step up for his sixth goal. New England (4-5-4) had won two straight and lost just one of its previous six. It is 0-5-2 on the road.

Brian Johnson: 'Awesome feeling' after five-hitter vs. Mariners


Brian Johnson: 'Awesome feeling' after five-hitter vs. Mariners

BOSTON - Brian Johnson had quite a turnaround in his second time on Fenway Park's mound.

Johnson pitched a five-hitter in his first big league appearance at Fenway, and the Boston Red Sox stretched their winning streak to a season-high six games with a 6-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.

The 26-year-old left-hander became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw a shutout in his first Fenway start since Pedro Martinez on April 11, 1998. In Johnson's first start in Fenway - his fourth as a professional - he sustained a season-ending facial fracture when he hit by a line drive while pitching for Class A Lowell in 2012.

"The last time I walked off the mound here was 2012 and I made two pitches," Johnson said. "Today I went nine innings. Today was pretty cool."

Johnson left Triple-A for a little over a month last season to get treatment for an anxiety issue.

"Obviously with some stuff that I've been gone through in my career, it's an awesome feeling" he said.

But despite the stellar outing, Johnson was optioned back to Triple-A after the game.

"That's the reality of the game," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "We had a chance to congratulate him and yet option him back to Pawtucket, with David Price coming here Monday."

Brought up from the minors for the start, Johnson (2-0) gave up five singles, struck out eight and walked none. His only previous big league starts were at Houston on July 21, 2015, and at Toronto on April 18 this year.

Johnson was helped by a semi-leaping catch by center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. at the wall in the sixth, Bradley's diving grab of Nelson Cruz's sinking liner in the ninth and Bradley's game-ending running catch of Kyle Seager's drive.

Xander Bogaerts' RBI single triggered a three-run first inning and Bradley hit a two-run homer in the sixth

Shut out for the second straight day, Seattle has lost seven of eight.

"Their guy threw the ball over the plate. He threw strikes," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "I won't take anything away from what he did, but we're not swinging the bat very well."

Rob Whalen (0-1) gave up five runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings in his Mariners' debut, his first big league start since Aug. 23 for Atlanta. He is Seattle's 12th starting pitcher, the most in the major leagues.

Andrew Benintendi and Sandy Leon also had RBI singles in the first, when the Red Sox had two batters hit by pitches, two walks and two runners thrown out on the bases - Dustin Pedroia at third for the first out and Hanley Ramirez at the plate for the last.