Celtics gearing up for Spurs, Thunder

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Celtics gearing up for Spurs, Thunder

BOSTON Even the Celtics find themselves from time to time taking a verbal dip into the "take things one game at a time" mantra that far too many coaches and players adopt as a primary talking point.

But with a potent 1-2 punch from out West (San Antonio followed by Oklahoma City) invading the TD Garden this week, it's hard to imagine Boston's focus will totally shift on one and not both of their next opponents.

Moments after Boston's 103-83 loss at Detroit on Sunday, this became abundantly clear in the Celtics' post-game comments.

"This is one of those games you just throw away; don't even look back at it," said Boston's Paul Pierce. "And just move on from it. We got a couple day's rest. We got two great teams coming into our building, so hopefully we can get back on track and get some good wins at home."

And while Boston clearly recognizes the quality of opponents that will be coming into town this week, their focus for the next two games isn't any different than it would be for any other regular season matchups.

"We're going to take (today) off and do very little on Tuesday," Rivers said. "That's why I always tell you guys, you want to win every game. But you can't. You can learn a little from all these games. But it's not like this is a playoff game coming up on Wednesday and we would be practicing hard, you know what I mean?"

Considering the Celtics just completed what will arguably be the most physically and mentally challenging portion of their schedule -- seven games in 10 days -- Rivers plans to give his team as much rest as possible heading into this two-game set of talented teams coming to town.

"When you come off this kind of stretch, and you go into these two games with fatigue, you just have to be very careful," Rivers said. "We're going to do something Tuesday, but it's not going to be a lot of work."

In addition to preparing to do battle against two of the NBA's top teams, the C's are also battling the fatigue that comes with having so many games so close behind one another.

"Our guys, half of them . . . are sick, half of them are tired," Rivers said.

Rivers got a call on Sunday morning from team trainer Ed Lacerte who informed Rivers that, the C's had "six guys with head colds and not feeling good."

Rivers added: "That's probably because of the stretch, in and out of weather and all that."

The schedule will indeed soften up in terms of travel this week.

But the caliber of opponents? Major upgrade.

And it doesn't matter which team is on the docket first. Because for this week, taking things "one game at a time" is not an option, not with a talented San Antonio team serving as the opening act for the NBA Finals runner-up Oklahoma City Thunder less than 48 hours later.

Don't roll your eyes at the NBA's emoji tweets -- they're the best

Don't roll your eyes at the NBA's emoji tweets -- they're the best

On Wednesday, 👀aiah Thomas was up to his old tricks, sending out a cryptic tweet containing only the hourglass emoji. 

This followed Thomas’ infamous Monday night tweet of the eyes emoji, the same tweet he had sent just prior to the Celtics signing Al Horford in free agency.

Like Monday’s tweet, the internet dug into what the hourglass could mean, with a leading theory pointing out that the logo on Paul George’s new sneakers resembles a sideways hour glass. Or Thomas could completely be messing with us. 

Side-note, by the way: Basketball Twitter has it all over the other sports' Twitters. Football and baseball Twitter are generally lame because of years spent by the respective leagues with sharing video. Hockey Twitter is great but can be insufferable. Basketball Twitter rocks, though. The jokes are the best, the memes are the best, the people are the best. Plus Woj is there. Love that guy. 

Anyway, the point is that, yes, reading into what emojis grown men are sending out is a waste of time, but we’re talking about Twitter, which essentially has three purposes: reporting, freaking out about Trump and wasting time. 

Most people on Twitter are not reporters. Not all of them freak out about Trump. Wasting time is allowed by all, so really what’s the difference between tweeting emoji theories and sports fans giving you their takes on how teams to whom they have no connections will think? It’s all garbage. At least the emojis are cute. 
 

Haggerty: No move may be the best move for Bruins at deadline

Haggerty: No move may be the best move for Bruins at deadline

The NHL trade deadline is now less than a week away, with plenty of movement expected despite the perpetual lack of sellers, and an expansion draft perhaps preventing some teams from taking on players they will then need to protect. 

The Bruins shouldn’t be much of a seller as long as they can continue their current good stretch for three more games before the March 1 deadline. The expansion draft shouldn’t be much of a scare either based on the players {Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Malcolm Subban) they might be in danger of losing to the Vegas Golden Knights this summer.

With the Bruins currently outside of a playoff spot by virtue of the one game in hand held by the Florida Panthers (both teams have 66 points vying for the final wild-card spot), it would be no surprise if GM Don Sweeney wanted to be a buyer at the deadline for a Boston roster that could use a big top-six winger with finishing ability, a top-four defenseman that can move the puck and a backup goaltender should Anton Khudobin have any more struggles this season.

The Bruins and Avalanche had been talking steadily in recent weeks about a possible deal for 24-year-old left wing Gabriel Landeskog, but those discussions have hit a standstill with Sweeney refusing to part with either Brandon Carlo or Charlie McAvoy in the trade package. That's the 100 percent right move for a Bruins team that shouldn't start trading away blue chip D-man prospects. 

Landeskog has made sense for the Black and Gold because he’s signed long term with a reasonable $5.7 million cap hit, and because he’d theoretically be a good, power forward fit alongside David Krejci.

It’s that type of trade Sweeney and the Bruins are looking to make for a young player with term that will be part of the long-term solution in Boston. They aren’t looking for a repeat of last season where they shipped off good future assets in exchange for pedestrian rental players Lee Stempniak and John-Michael Liles and missed the playoffs anyway after dipping into the trade market.

In other words, Sweeney doesn’t sound all that keen in dipping heavily into the rental market, for a Patrick Eaves or a Dmitry Kulikov for instance, as he did a year ago.  

“Do I think we have an opportunity to make the playoffs? Absolutely, there’s no question this group has a chance to get in. Whether or not I can find a player between now and the deadline that sort of fills all those gaps, that does remain to be seen,” said Sweeney at the time of the Claude Julien firing, prior to the current four-game winning streak. 

“But I think it dovetails with the fact that I’m not going to be short-sighted. I’m going to stick to the longer term view as to what I have put in place with the intention of being able to bridge and bringing in players like David Backes and surround our guys that we get a chance to win now and be competitive now.

“I’d prefer to err on the side of a player that will integrate into us on the longer-term. Last year, we gave up draft picks. I wasn’t prepared to move players that I felt in the same regard that teams had asked for in order to get a higher-level rental or a different kind of rental. I’m not going to deviate from what I said. Are there players and we have a surplus? That’s what I want to try and evaluate and find out whether or not we can deal from a position of strength.”

Some of that may change after a current four-game winning streak with a Bruins team that looks much more playoff-worthy than the aimless group that struggled through the first 55 games. But it would have to be the perfect rental at the right price for it to make sense for the Bruins this time around and chances are that might not materialize for a team just looking to hang in there until McAvoy, Anders Bjork, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson and Zach Senyshyn are ready to contribute a couple of years down the road.

So, would people be okay if Sweeney and the Bruins stand pat at the trade deadline if they can’t swing a big hockey deal for a young player like Landeskog who would be part of the long-term plan? Is it acceptable to just let it ride with the current group that has suddenly shown a different gear under interim head coach Bruce Cassidy, and bet on the core group rising to the occasion like they didn’t the last couple of years under Julien?

The answer from this humble hockey writer is that Sweeney should pass on anything less than a home run deal for the Black and Gold. The worst thing the Bruins GM could do is get in the way of the momentum that’s naturally starting to roll with his team, or make another severe misstep with his NHL talent evaluation. Right now, draft and development seem to be his strengths, and he should lean into those and away from being a wheeler dealer with wiser, more experienced managers around the NHL looking to once again rob the Black and Gold blind.

So, there’s a chance the Bruins do very little at the deadline and, after thinking about it, the fickle fans should be perfectly okay with that as they watch a newly transformed hockey club.