Celtics-Warriors review: What we saw...

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Celtics-Warriors review: What we saw...

OAKLAND, Calif. For most of Wednesday's game, the Boston Celtics' usually stingy defense was nowhere to be found as Golden State seemingly got whatever it wanted to offensively.

But down the stretch, when the game mattered most, the C's got the necessary stops and much-needed shots to fall as they escaped with a 105-103 win.

It was a 21-foot jumper by Kevin Garnett that provided the game-winning margin of points.

But before that play came about, it was a series of key stops that ultimately led the C's to a hard-earned victory.

"We didn't play a lick of defense tonight," said Boston's Paul Pierce. "But we played defense when it mattered. So that was the most important thing."

Clutch plays by Garnett down the stretch and some solid team defense were among the keys to the Celtics (23-19) moving four games above-.500 for just the second time this season.

Here's a review of the keys highlighted prior to the game, and how they actually played out during the game.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Without Monta Ellis, who will pick up the 21.9 points and 19 shot attempts he had, per game? Stephen Curry is a logical choice, but with his never-ending ankle issues, Warriors coach Mark Jackson doesn't have a true feel for how much he can get on a nightly basis from Curry. Prior to the game, Warriors GM Larry Riley said Curry, who did not play on Wednesday, is out indefinitely. If Curry doesn't get the bulk of those shots, keep an eye on rookie Klay Thompson whose development was among the reasons the Warriors were willing to trade Ellis. He's averaging 8.2 points per game this season, but has reached double figures in Golden State's last five games -- his longest double figure scoring stretch this season.

WHAT WE SAW: Thompson proved why the Warriors are so high on his play with a career-best 26 points. He showed the kind of mid-range game and long-range shooting touch that seemed to have caught the Celtics off-guard.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Brandon Bass vs. David Lee: Bass' mid-range game has been strong all year, but lately he's starting to get it done defensively as well. Lee will be a good test for him. The two have comparable size and can be physical. But you have to like Bass' chances when he steps away from the basket and shoots. Not only is it a situation that plays to his strengths, but it also keeps Lee further away from the basket which for the C's, is a good thing.

WHAT WE SAW: Although Bass is a couple inches shorter than Lee, he certainly held his own on Wednesday. Both players had 22 points, with Bass having the slight edge in rebounds with nine compared to eight for Lee. Rebounding was indeed something that was on Bass' mind coming into the game.

"I go out with more of a mindset of rebounding," Bass said prior to the game.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Avery Bradley's improved play offensively has been one of the reasons the Celtics have been a better team since returning from the all-star break. He's showing that, in addition to being a strong defender, he can also make teams pay by leaving him alone on the perimeter or losing track of him cutting to the basket. With Bass now a starter, Boston will need someone to step up and become more of a scorer off the bench. Bradley appears to be up for the challenge.

"Whatever they need me to do, that's what I want to do," Bradley said. "Of course defense is always going to be my priority. But there times when my teammates will need me to score, too. I'm just trying to stay ready, be ready for whatever Doc and the coaching staff needs me to do."

WHAT WE SAW: Bradley did not play major minutes. But as he has done more and more of lately, the Celtics got great value out of his time on the floor. The 6-foot-2 guard played more than 13 minutes and scored four points on 2-for-3 shooting, in addition to dishing out three assists. Maybe just as telling was the C's were plus-nine with him on the floor. Only one other Celtic player (Keyon Dooling, who was plus-11) had a better plusminus ratio.

STAT TO TRACK: This will be one of the few nights where the Celtics, the worst rebounding team in the NBA, might actually win the battle on the boards. As bad as Boston is, the Warriors aren't that much better. In fact, they rank 26th in rebounding compared to the dead-last Celtics, at No. 30. Forget about Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass and Paul Pierce when it comes to the team's rebounding numbers. Boston has to get more from guys like Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Avery Bradley.

"It has to be more of a team effort on the boards," Bradley admitted. "I know myself, all the guards really, have to do a better job of that, than what we're doing now."

WHAT WE SAW: Boston did more than just hold its own on the boards they won the boards. It was only by four rebounds, but hey, considering most games they're out-rebounded by double figures, a four-rebound edge was huge. The strong job on the boards came on the same day the C's found out that Chris Wilcox would be out for the season due to a heart condition that will require surgery. Celtics officials said he would have surgery in Cleveland March 29. In addition to Wilcox, the C's are awaiting word on whether Jermaine O'Neal (wrist) will have season-ending surgery. But C's head coach Doc Rivers has already said the team plans to continue on without O'Neal, adding that his return would be a "bonus."

"With those guys, it still would have been tough (rebounding the ball)," said Bass. "Without them, it's going to be tougher. But that just means guys off the bench have to step up and be ready."

Friday, Feb. 24: 'Slap Shot' turns 40

Friday, Feb. 24: 'Slap Shot' turns 40

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while always holding a special place in my heart for Dickie Dunn as my favorite "Slap Shot" character. If Dickie Dunn wrote it, then it must be true.

*The ESPN hockey crew puts together some of their best scenes and favorite lines from "Slap Shot" as the movie hits 40 years old. I was first introduced to Slap Shot in my high school years and I liked it for the Hanson Brothers as much as for anything else, but that is a movie that just gets better and better every time I watch it. And I’ve watched it dozens and dozens of times. God bless Paul Newman for agreeing to lend his Hollywood star power to such a crazy, hilarious and raucous love letter to hockey.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Brian Wilde is recognizing the limitations of the Canadiens even under new coach Claude Julien.

*Bryan Bickell is stepping even closer to a return to the Carolina Hurricanes as he battles through his MS diagnosis.

*Kevin Shattenkirk apparently turned down a sign-and-trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning this season, and also turned down a chance to get dealt to the Edmonton Oilers last summer as well. I think the Blues D-man has a short list of teams he wants to sign with as a free agent, and neither one of those teams is on the list.

*Darren Dreger weighs in on Shattenkirk as well, and the price tag of a top prospect, first-round pick and NHL player for the puck-moving rental D-man seems very excessive.

*Things are coming to a head with Evander Kane and the Buffalo Sabres as he takes his play to a high level in Buff over the last few months.

*Interesting piece on Ed Snider’s daughter becoming an advocate for medicinal marijuana after his father’s health battles.

*For something completely different: Looks like a new season of "The Voice" coming our way.


 

'Why would the girls be treated any differently than the boys?'

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'Why would the girls be treated any differently than the boys?'

I grew up playing sports. For the most part I played soccer, but I also ran cross-country and track, I skied, snowboarded, and, at one point, I tried gymnastics. (It wasn't pretty.) My two younger sisters did the same. Our parents ran themselves ragged driving us to practices and tournaments, arranging carpools and fundraisers.

It never crossed our minds that we were girls playing sports. It's just what we did. And we loved it!

I didn't realize how lucky I was until visiting my grandparents in rural Ohio one summer. I found an old photo of their high school graduating class. I asked my grandmother what sports she played in school and I'll never forget her answer: "Oh, there were no sports for girls back then. We could cheer for the boys basketball team, but that was it."

I was shocked. I thought that was ridiculous. Why would the girls be treated any differently than the boys? I couldn't comprehend it.

Looking back, I'm so thankful I grew up in a time and environment where that wasn't the case. I can't imagine my life without sports. Not only because it's what I do for a living, but because playing sports throughout my childhood is a big part of what made me the person I am today.

Sports taught me the value of hard work. Being part of a team, I learned how to communicate and work with people to accomplish a common goal . . . and discovered just how gratifying the process can be. I became a teammate and leader who earned respect and empowered others. I made lasting friendships while stuffed like a sardine in a travel van singing Ace of Base at the top of my lungs. I wouldn't trade those experiences for anything. And I certainly wouldn't be in the position I'm in without them.

Don't get me wrong; it hasn't all been positive. Now that I'm a woman working in sports, I've had other kinds of eye-opening moments. During an interview for my first on-air job I was asked, in so many words, if this is really a career for me or if I had other plans after I found a husband. Once I did land a job, I covered many college football games by myself. There was one small school in particular whose players relentlessly catcalled me on the sidelines. I won't repeat the foul things they said, but I can tell you I went home feeling very dirty (and it wasn't because I  was pouring sweat after lugging a camera that weighed half as much as I did from end zone to end zone in the middle of an Alabama summer). Even now, every so often, social media has a special way of reminding me how some people still view women in sports. Surprise -- it's not good.

But if that's the worst I have to go through, I know I can't complain. My only focus is doing my job to the very best of my abilities and working as hard as I possibly can to continue to grow and get better. We've come a long way. I'm so grateful for those who blazed the trail and made it possible for me to do what I do. And, thanks to my grandmother, I will never take my opportunities for granted. My hope is that when my daughter grows up, she will be just as surprised and appalled by some of my bad experiences as I was talking to my grandmother that day.