Celtics hoping to make most of extra time off

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Celtics hoping to make most of extra time off

WALTHAM The Celtics will have a few days off before they take to the floor again. Good thing for a veteran team, right?

Not exactly.

The benefits for players like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry -- all were given the day off from practice on Monday by Doc Rivers -- goes without saying. But when it comes to winning games, that's a different story.

Boston doesn't play again until Wednesday when it hosts the Minnesota Timberwolves, the fifth time this season in which the Celtics will have two or more days off before playing.

In the previous four games, the C's are just 1-3.

And that lone victory came over the Washington Wizards on Nov. 7, a team that did not win its first game of the season until Nov. 28 against Portland.

Still, the potential upside of having more practice time still outweighs the struggles the C's have had in the past with a longer-than-usual layoff.

"It's always nice when you're over 30 to get rest," said veteran Jason Collins. "But we're still continuing to work hard each and every day."

Added Courtney Lee: "It's definitely good to have days off. We can get in here and work on some things."

Among the areas in need of improvement is the Celtics' pick-and-roll defense which was among the areas covered in practice on Monday which was run by C's assistant Armond Hill.

"We're getting better," Hill said. "You can see guys are reacting more, reacting quicker to what their responsibilities are."

Hill said Rivers has expressed many times how the "four (power forward) and five (center) are together, and the smalls have to be in the help position to give the stunt, to get back and play one-on-one."

The Celtics' loss at Milwaukee was indicative of the kind of progress that the C's are making.

They're improving, but clearly not as much as they need or want to.

With that said, having a few more days to work on things and better prepare for their next opponent is a situation the C's have embraced as they look to get on track after a lackluster 9-8 start this season.

"We know it's a long season, and we have a long way to go," Lee said. "We're getting better as a team and we know we'll turn that around and you'll see us going on eight-game winning streaks. So we're definitely not focused on the record. Our main focus is just getting better and continue to work on things that Doc puts in."

Pedroia returns to lineup as Sox look to extend winning streak to six

Pedroia returns to lineup as Sox look to extend winning streak to six


After leaving Thursday night's game in the fifth inning and missing Friday night's game, Dustin Pedroia is back in the Red Sox lineup Saturday as they look to extend their winning streak to six in a 4:05 game against the Seattle Mariners.

Pedroia felt pain his left knee Thursday night and was taken out of the game by manager John Farrell as a precaution. The rainy conditions and wet field were also factors in keeping the second baseman out Thursday and Friday. 

Pedroia (.288, two homers, 21 RBI) had surgery on the knee in October. It's the same leg that was hurt when Manny Machado slid into Pedroia at second base in April, the slide that sparked various confrontations between the Orioles and Red Sox.

Left-hander Brian Johnson (1-0, 7.20 ERA) was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket to make his second start of the season for Boston and right-handed reliever Ben Taylor was optioned to the PawSox. Right-hander Rob Whalen, 23,  comes up from Triple-A Tacoma to make his first start of the season for the Mariners. 

The lineups:

MARINERS
Jean Segura SS
Danny Valencia 1B
Robinson Canó 2B
Nelson Cruz DH
Kyle Seager 3B
Taylor Motter LF
Guillermo Heredia RF
Mike Zunino C
Jarrod Dyson CF
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Rob Whalen RHP

RED SOX
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Andrew Benintendi LF
Hanley Ramirez DH
Mitch Moreland 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Sandy Leon C
Deven Marrero 3B
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Brian Johnson LHP