Celtics hope to keep Minnesota's Love off the glass

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Celtics hope to keep Minnesota's Love off the glass

WALTHAM Kevin Love spent a good bit of time after his rookie year working on his three-point shot.

For a burly power forward with questionable leaping ability and even more questionable athleticism, this wasn't exactly seen as the best use of his time.

But the more he worked on it, the better he became -- similar to what has transpired in all facets of his play which includes becoming a dominate force around the basket.

"Kevin Love is one of the best rebounders of our era," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "I know that's saying something early on in his career, but he really is."

While working for NBC Sports during the Summer Olympics in London, Rivers had a chance to see Love play regularly for Team USA.

"Two of those games early in the Olympics were kind of close in the first half, the U.S. would have been down by 20 but Kevin Love kept getting rebounds and you stare at it and watch it, it's an art."

You can add Paul Pierce to list of those impressed with Love's game, well aware that Love and Minnesota's strength -- rebounding -- is arguably the greatest flaw within the C's roster.

"Our main objective is to try and slow him down," Pierce said. "He's shown he can dominate the game with his offensive rebounding, and defensive rebounding. That's definitely an emphasis."

Celtics center Jason Collins played with Love in Minnesota during Love's rookie season.

"He's an extremely hard worker, great second jump," Collins told CSNNE.com. "Really anticipates where a rebound is going to come off and positions himself to be there to get the rebound."

Although a freakish knuckle injury has sidelined him for most of the season thus far, he has returned to action and picked up where he left off last season to rank among the NBA's top rebounders.

Love comes into tonight's game against the Philadelaphia 76ers averaging 21.7 points and 15.3 rebounds in six games this season.

But along with scoring and rebounding, Love's ability to shoot threes makes him an even more difficult player to cover.

While he has struggled thus far in shooting threes (19.4 percent), there's no mistaking he's a threat from long range the minute he steps on to the court which poses problems for most teams defensively.

Because of his size, he can score on most bigs in the post. When you throw in his three-point shooting prowess, he becomes a matchup nightmare.

"Kevin Love is such a different kind of player," Pierce said. "He's a power forward but he can step out and shoot the three, but he's an interior player when it comes to rebounding and doing all the dirty work."

And to see him knock it down now, Collins says, speaks volumes about his work ethic.

"He was practicing it, but it wasn't good as it is now," Collins said. "He was definitely practicing it and continuing to shoot it even when some of the coaches at the time might not have been comfortable with a four-man shooting 3s. But it shows that if you put the hard work in, put the time in, people will come around. He's really developed that part of his game."

And while his emergence last season may have caught some off guard, he's not sneaking up on anyone now.

"The guys know, they get the scouting report," said Celtics assistant Armond Hill. "They know what he's doing and how good he is as far as rebounding. KG (Kevin Garnett) and everyone else is aware."

Cassidy: 'Trying to set a standard' of being one of the NHL's better teams

Cassidy: 'Trying to set a standard' of being one of the NHL's better teams

BOSTON – The Bruins have won seven of eight games under interim coach Bruce Cassidy and are fortifying their position as the third playoff team in the Atlantic Division with each passing victory.

The 4-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes at TD Garden on Tuesday night probably shouldn’t be all impressive based on the Yotes standing as the second-worst team in the NHL, but it was a classic trap game coming off a long West Coast road trip. Instead of falling for the trap the Bruins exploded for three goals in the second period, energized by a shorthanded Riley Nash strike, and continue to extend the winning stretch they need in order to punch their playoff ticket.

The postseason clincher is still a long way away from reality, but Cassidy said the B’s are starting to achieve the elevated level of play they’re aiming for while finally getting the full potential out of their team.

“I just want the guys to make sure that they play confident, solid hockey and believe in themselves. And play to a [higher] standard,” said Cassidy. “We’re trying to set a standard where we’re one of the better teams in the National Hockey League. They’ve been there before, the leadership group here. That’s where we’re striving to get through in the end.”

They haven’t exactly shied away from the competition either, twice beating the first-place San Jose Sharks and shutting out the first place Montreal Canadiens in the final straw that saw Michel Therrien axed in favor of Claude Julien.

The B’s have now opened up a three-point cushion over the Maple Leafs for their playoff spot and they’ve averaged 4.13 goals per game (33 goals in eight games) while allowing just 2.13 goals per game (17 goals in eight games) in the eight games going from Julien to Cassidy. 

The challenge now is to maintain that level of play over the final 19 games of the regular season to drive home their playoff bid and finish strong at a point where in each of the past two seasons they’ve utterly imploded.


 

Wednesday, March 1: Bruins okay with not dealing

Wednesday, March 1: Bruins okay with not dealing

Here are all the links from around the hockey world as NHL trade deadline day is upon us with no promise of fireworks in Boston.

*As referenced above, there’s a good chance the Bruins won’t be doing much today and they’re perfectly okay with that.

*Craig Custance grades every move made ahead of the trade deadline with plenty of action out of the way early.

*The Vancouver Canucks will not be trading Ryan Miller, which is smart given the normal market for No. 1 goaltenders.

*The New York Rangers lost out on the Kevin Shattenkirk rental sweepstakes at the deadline, so they’ve opted for Brendan Smith instead.

*The Florida Panthers may make a move at the deadline (which they did in acquiring Thomas Vanek) but they will not make or break their team with deadline deals.

*Doug Armstrong says that Shattenkirk was frustrated by his role with the St. Louis Blues, and that played into his trade to the Capitals.

*For something completely different: It’s a national holiday in Canada as Jay and Dan will be returning to their natural habitat.