Boston Red Sox

Celtics-Hawks review: Bradley's effort sparks Celtics

974663.jpg

Celtics-Hawks review: Bradley's effort sparks Celtics

ATLANTA Avery Bradley like most of his Boston Celtics teammates, didn't come out playing well to start the game.

"That first half, I didn't have any energy," he told CSNNE.com. "But I came at halftime and told myself, I have to find that energy somewhere and that's what I did; I played as hard as I could."

And Bradley's effort is indeed becoming contagious with his Celtics teammates stepping up their play defensively as well in the second half as Boston rallied for an 89-81 win over Atlanta.

Bradley had six points and four rebounds, but numbers do little justice when it comes to explaining the impact he has made on the C's in just his second game back.

His ability to pick up ball-handlers the full length of the court has a tendency to wear down opponents, evident by Atlanta's guards turning the ball over six times in the second half after not committing a single turnover in the first half.

"I just wanted to give everything I could give. That's what I did," Bradley said.

For all that went right for the C's in the second half, Celtics coach Doc Rivers pointed out that the play of his perimeter players defensively was instrumental.

"We pressured the ball with our two guards (Bradley and Rajon Rondo) and that made a huge difference," Rivers said.

Here are some other keys highlighted prior to the game, and how they actually played out as the Celtics (16-17) string together back-to-back wins for the first time in nearly a month (Dec. 8 and Dec. 12).

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: A big part of Boston's success against the Pacers on Friday was their ability to hold their own on the boards. In fact, Boston was plus-2 on the boards which is a major coup for them. They will look to be just as good or better tonight.

WHAT WE SAW: The Celtics pulled off a rare feat in out-rebounding an opponent two games in a row. Boston was plus-8 (44-36) on the boards against the Hawks who have also had their struggles on the board. Like Boston, the league's worst rebounding team, Atlanta is also ranked in the bottom 10 (No. 24) with 49 rebounds per game.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett vs Al Horford: Both have the ability to score around the basket as well as facing the basket. But Horford's experience and youthfulness give him a slight edge over the future Hall of Famer.

WHAT WE SAW: Garnett was an efficient scorer (14 points, 7-for-12 shooting) who did a much better job on the boards than his five rebounds would indicated. Meanwhile, Horford's impact was never felt offensively (6 points, 2-for-8 shooting) and his nine rebounds didn't do much to help the Hawks' efforts, either.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Jason Terry could use a stretch of consistent play which isn't coming anytime soon for the Celtics. Against the Pacers, he missed six of his eight shots from the field and finished with six points.

WHAT WE SAW: Terry had another less-than-stellar night shooting the ball, scoring four points on 2-for-8 shooting despite the Celtics making an effort to free him up for shots. Still, he was part of a perimeter defensive unit that stymied the Atlanta guards in the second half.

STAT TO TRACK: Boston should capitalize on an Atlanta team that sends opposing teams to the free throw line - a lot. Hawks opponents are averaging 14.5 free throws made and 18.4 free throw attempts - both league highs.

WHAT WE SAW: Free throw shooting was never a factor in tonight's outcome, although the Celtics know they have to do better than 8-for-12 from the line.

Sale gets strikeout No. 300 as Red Sox shut out O's, 9-0

sale_092017_red_sox.jpg

Sale gets strikeout No. 300 as Red Sox shut out O's, 9-0

BALTIMORE - Chris Sale struck out 13 to become the first AL pitcher in 18 years to reach the 300 mark, and the Boston Red Sox moved to the brink of clinching a playoff berth by beating the Baltimore Orioles 9-0 on Wednesday night.

Sale (17-7) reached the milestone on his last pitch, a called third strike against Ryan Flaherty to end the eighth inning. The last AL pitcher to fan 300 batters in a season was Boston's Pedro Martinez in 1999, when he set a club record with 313.

Mookie Betts and Deven Marrero homered for the Red Sox, who reduced their magic number for reaching the postseason to one. If the Angels lost to Cleveland later Wednesday night, Boston would be assured no worse than a wild-card spot in the AL playoffs.

The Red Sox, of course, would prefer to enter as AL East champions. They hold a three-game lead over the second-place Yankees with 10 games left.

After winning two straight 11-inning games over the skidding Orioles, Boston jumped to a 6-0 lead in the fifth and coasted to its 11th win in 14 games.

Sale notches his 300th strikeout of the season

sale_red_sox_092017.jpg

Sale notches his 300th strikeout of the season

BALTIMORE — One of the greatest seasons for a pitcher in Red Sox history saw a milestone toppled Wednesday night. 

In a dominant start vs. the Orioles at Camden Yards, Chris Sale became the first American League pitcher this century to strike out 300 batters in a season. He also put himself in striking distance of the Red Sox single-season record for Ks, 313.

Sale is the 14th different pitcher since 1920 to reach the 300 mark. The only other pitcher to do so in a Red Sox uniform was Pedro Martinez, who set the club record of 313 in 1999.

Sale was at 12 strikeouts and 99 pitches through seven innings Wednesday night with the Sox ahead 6-0. The offense added two more runs in the top of the inning, prompting Sox manager John Farrell to warm up righty Austin Maddox.

But Sale nonetheless took the mound. The first two batters of the inning grounded out. On a 2-2 pitch to the left-handed hitting Ryan Flaherty, Sale threw a front-door slider that caught Flaherty looking. It was his 111th pitch of the night.

Sale has two more scheduled starts, although he may only make one more. 

His final appearance of the regular season projects to be Game No. 162 against the Astros. If the Sox have the American League East wrapped up, Sale could well be held out of that game. 

The Sox and Astros meet for four games to end the regular season at Fenway Park, and may be first-round opponents if the Indians maintain the best record in the AL and therefore home field advantage.

The last time a pitcher in either league struck out 300 was 2015, when Clayton Kershaw did so for the Dodgers.

Sale was in line for his 17th win Wednesday, tying his career high.