Ference has flu; Peverly gets maintenance day

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Ference has flu; Peverly gets maintenance day

WILMINGTON -- The Bruins will play one more game before the NHL's holiday break, before heading to Phoenix for a game next Wednesday.

That leaves four days off in between that Friday's game at home against the Panthers. The B's enter Friday while having three days off since their last game -- a 3-2 win against Montreal at the TD Garden.

So with the Bruins having plenty of time to rest between now and the end of the holiday break, coach Claude Julien is taking extra-advantage of that rest with at least one player.

Forward Rich Peverley -- who has two goals and five assists in the last four games, was one of two Bruins players not on the ice for the team's 40-minute practice on Wednesday at Ristuccia Arena.

The other missing player was defenseman Andrew Ference, who, according to Julien, is "battling the famous flu bug."

Peverley's absence was a maintenance day.

"Peverley is maintenance," said Julien after practice. "And you know, again, it's the same thing, where we're having a good look at our schedule and what that may do for him. So we're going to keep him off there for the next couple of days. And tomorrow is certainly another one of those days, and we'll decide whether he's in on Friday. And if not, then that will give him at least a good week. So we're going to be making a decision on him, regarding his situation."

It seems as if Julien is planning Peverley's maintenance days around the upcoming holiday break, a break in which he knows will be much more pleasant if they enter it with a win.

"It's like that every year," said Julien. "You'd like to finish on a positive note, so that we can head into Christmas and probably enjoy it a little bit more. Every team, I'm sure, thinks the same way. So, on our end of it, we have no excuse. We've had some time off here from playing. Hopefully we'll be the fresher team of the two when that game comes around."

Julien described Wednesday's practice as "short, but intense." He stressed that while the team is winning, it makes for a time in which they must focus even more on the little mistakes, rather than just move along as if everything is perfect.

"That's when you've got to be a little tougher on yourselves," said Julien. "When things are going well, you want to nitpick at that. When things aren't going as well, it's mostly about getting the confidence and everything going again. Right now, we've been nitpicking at certain parts of our game. We've talked about the neutral zone and giving up 40-plus shots for a few games. And that wasn't because of Zdeno more than it was because of our whole team not being very good in the neutral zone.

"So we nitpicked at the D-zone, and today we kept doing some drills which might have looked more like a fun day, but it was more about being stronger on the puck, puck protection, and being able to battle. We wanted to get better at that, so it's another area where we're trying to improve.

"We just want to get through here the next few days, and finish off on a high note," later added Julien. "And then get those two, three days at Christmas, which should give them the rest that they need."

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Wizards shoot ridiculous 65 percent from field

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Wizards shoot ridiculous 65 percent from field

After Boston’s last game against Portland – a loss – Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said he was encouraged by some of the things his team did defensively.

It’s safe to say Stevens won’t be singing that tone if the Celtics continue along the path they’re on defensively right now as the Washington Wizards went into the half with a 66-59 lead.

Washington, donning all-black clothes when they arrived at the Verizon Center, were very much looking as though they were digging a basketball grave for the Boston Celtics who allowed the Wizards to shoot a ridiculous 65 percent from the field in the first half and 61.5 percent (8-for-13) from 3-point range.

The Wizards scored the first four points of the game and spent all of the first half playing with a lead.

But the Celtics showed some fight late in the second quarter, going on a 14-6 run to cut Washington’s lead to 55-52 with 3:39 to play in the quarter.

Boston would later have a chance to tie the game, but Marcus Smart’s 3-pointer was off the mark.

And the Wizards, as they had done all game, made the Celtics pay as Bradley Beal drained a jumper that made it a two-possession game.

Here’s a look at the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half.

 

STARS

Bradley Beal

It was his idea to go with the all-Black look, and he backed up his talk with a strong first half of play. He has a team-high 14 points at the half along with five assists.

Isaiah Thomas

Thomas delivered yet another all-star caliber scoring performance in the first half for Boston. He led all scorers with 17 points on 5-for-9 shooting along with a game-high eight assists.  

John Wall

After scoring just nine points when these two met on Jan. 11, Wall has 13 points at the half on 6-for-9 shooting to go with five rebounds and three assists.

 

STUDS

Al Horford

It was an extremely efficient game offensively in the first half for Horford. He had 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting with three assists.

Markieff Morris

He’s one of four double-digit scorers in the first half for the Wizards. In addition to his 10 points, he also has five rebounds and three assists.

 

DUDS

Celtics defense

At this end of the floor, the Celtics were absolutely atrocious in the first half. The Wizards shot a ridiculously high 65 percent from the field, and were just as lethal (8-for-13, 61.5 percent) from 3-point land. They have no shot at competing let alone winning tonight’s game, if they don’t turn things around and do so soon!

Beyond the numbers: 'Game is slowing down' for Isaiah Thomas

Beyond the numbers: 'Game is slowing down' for Isaiah Thomas

Just about every part of Isaiah Thomas’ game offensively has seen tremendous growth this season.

But what has really separated him from earlier versions of himself, has been his 3-point shooting.

He comes into tonight’s game against the Washington Wizards shooting a career best 38.4 percent from 3-point range.

When asked about how he has elevated his game this season, the answer isn’t that simple.

“I don’t know” he told reporters prior to tonight’s game. “The game is slowing down for me. My teammates put me in position, my coach does … and I’m just knocking down shots.”

Because of his shot-making, Thomas has made it difficult for defenses to give him a steady diet of any style of play in trying to limit him.

And because they have to change things up with regularity, that has created more scoring opportunities.

“Sometimes they forget what they want to do (defensively) and leave me open for a three,” Thomas said. “Those are the the types of shots I need to knock down and I’m being aggressive.

He added, “I need to get to the free throw line, trying to make plays for my teammates. It’s one of those things where I’m in a really good zone now; a really good rhythm.”

A good rhythm?

According to NBA statistics guru Dick Lipe, Thomas is the first Celtic ever to make at least four 3-pointers in five straight games. Taking it a step further, he has made at least three 3-pointers in seven straight games which equaled Antoine Walker’s streak in 2001.

Thomas has also attempted 11 three-pointers in five straight games which is a franchise record. There have only been three longer streaks in NBA history - Golden State’s Stephen Curry (7 straight games, 2016); Washington’s Gilbert Arenas (7 straight games, 2005) and Dallas’ George McCloud (6 straight games, 2006).

He’s also averaging 3.1 made 3’s per game which would be a franchise record that’s currently held by Antoine Walker who averaged 2.7 during the 2001-2002 season.

And all those 3’s have added up to Thomas scoring at least 27 points in seven straight games, something that hasn’t been done by a Celtic since Larry Bird had eight such games in March 1988 as well as the 1987-1988 season.