Celtics-Bucks review: Jennings leads the way

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Celtics-Bucks review: Jennings leads the way

BOSTON No one expected the Boston Celtics to run the tables and win all its home games.

But to lose the opener to the Milwaukee Bucks, a team the C's have dominated?

Few saw this coming.

The breakdowns were clear on so many fronts for Boston.

Defensively, they couldn't keep Brandon Jennings in front of them. When he broke them down, he either scored or racked up an assist on the way.

And offensively, the C's never played with any kind of continuity or flow which resulted in them facing an uphill battle almost the entire game.

Of course, all the changes made during the offseason is certainly a factor in the team's lack of cohesive play.

And while the talent level of the Celtics has certainly increased significantly since last season, that in itself doesn't guarantee a victory - home or on the road.

"At times I think we thought we would show up, because we have a lot of players on the team, and that would mean we would win," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "Our guys have to understand you have to invest, invest into the team to become a team. And I don't think we've done that yet. I think we will."

Here are some of the keys identified prior to the game, and how they actually played out.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The Bucks have one of the most explosive backcourts in the NBA with Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. Rajon Rondo and Courtney Lee will have their hands full keeping these guys in check.

WHAT WE SAW: Brandon Jennings wasn't just the best point guard - he was the best player - on the floor Friday night in tallying 21 points and 13 assists. Ellis wasn't nearly as effective in finishing with 14 points on 6-for-20 shooting.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Jeff Green vs. Mike Dunleavy: Both of these guys will come off the bench even though they have the skills to be starters for a lot of NBA teams. After an underwhelming performance against Miami, Green will look to be more assertive and aggressive Saturday night.

WHAT WE SAW: This matchup of sixth man standouts didn't have a significant impact on the game for either team. Dunleavy only had seven points, but he did a nice job rebounding with six boards. Although Green had 11 points, seven came during the third quarter when the C's gave up 30 points - something that should not happen to a team that's supposed to be all about defense.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Brandon Bass had 15 points and 11 rebounds against Miami. No one expects him to necessarily put up similar numbers against the Bucks, but he does need to continue making his presence felt on the boards. It's the best way to keep himself in the game and Jarred Sullinger on the bench.

WHAT WE SAW: Bass didn't have a huge night (10 points, six rebounds), but he continues to be a solid producer for the C's with the starting group. However, the Celtics may consider replacing him with Sullinger if the second unit continues to struggle generating points.

STAT TO TRACK: With the additions made by Boston, bench scoring should not be an issue. And yet despite having what most believe is one of the deepest teams in the NBA, Boston still managed to be outscored 32-29 by the Miami Heat in the season opener. You can bet Jason Terry and the rest of the second unit will be on a mission to make sure that what happened in South Beach, stays in South Beach.

WHAT WE SAW: For the second straight game, Boston's bench came up short in terms of scoring (37-31) and impact on the game.

Talking points: Patrice Bergeron is best player on ice in Bruins' win

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Talking points: Patrice Bergeron is best player on ice in Bruins' win

Here are the talking points from the Boston Bruins' 6-3 win over the Dallas Stars where Patrice Bergeron scored two goals.

Red Sox can't rally against Rays after Chris Archer's start

Red Sox can't rally against Rays after Chris Archer's start

The appearance of Tampa Bay Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough almost got the Boston Red Sox back in their spring training exhibition game. The Sox managed to score all three of their runs against the 25-year-old in their 7-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida on Sunday.

But the Rays, who scored runs in five different innings, managed to widen their lead in the eighth inning by beating up on Sox lefty Luis Isla, a 24-year-old who spent last season with Portland and Pawtucket. In the eighth, Rays' Joe McCarthy homered and Luke Maile managed an RBI single, which cappped off the scoring in the contest. Sox starter Hector Velazquez allowed three hits and an earned run in his two innnings. The 28-year-old, who spent 2016 in the Mexican League, still managed to amass four strikeouts.

"I was a little nervous at the start, being in the United States for the first time and playing for a big league club for the first time," Velazquez told RedSox.com through an interpreter. "But once I got the first out, all the nerves went away, and I was able to bear down."

Despite allowing two homers, Boston pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts.

With the exception of the Sox' inning against Yarbrough, Boston's veterans and prospects struggled mighltily against the Rays pitching staff. Chris Archer started for Tampa, and set the tone in the first two innings, where he threw two strikeouts, one walk and allowed one hit and no runs. Andrew Benintendi (0-for-3), Sam Travis (0-for-2) and Bryce Brentz (0-for-3) went hitless on the day. Travis, however, reached base on balls.

"I felt good. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish," Archer said, via the Red Sox' team website. "Just out there having fun, it was really fun to be out there in the spectrum with the umpire, the fans, the batter. It was fun."

Marco Hernandez's triple got the Sox' eighth-inning off to a strong start, and singles from Matt Dominguez, Deven Marrero, Rusney Castillo and Cole Sturgeon followed. The Sox' eighth inning scoring ended after Castillo got thrown out by left fielder McCarthy at third. Six Red Sox finished with one-hit outings, including Brock Holt and Blake Swihart.

The Sox will next host the St. Louis Cardinals in Fort Myers on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET.