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.

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

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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

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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.