Good News For Celtics

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Good News For Celtics

After taking in the last practice of the season this afternoon in Waltham, the Celtics have the night off, before getting dirty with the Southwest-leading Spurs tomorrow at the Garden.

It's a huge game for the Celtics, as they'll try to pick up their sixth win in a row, and perhaps more importantly, their second straight against the NBA's elite. And with two days off since drubbing the Heat on Sunday, they should be ready to go. Ray Allen will be ready too, and should be in the starting line-up. Whether or not that's in the best interest of the Celtics remains to be seen, but either way, it will be nice to see Ray back on the court.

But that's not the only good news surrounding the Spurs arrival. That's because not only will the Celtics be rested, but the Spurs who've won seven straight and 10 of 11 games will be on the second leg of a back-to-back. They play the Cavs tonight in Cleveland.

In San Antonio's defense, they've been pretty solid on the tail end of back-to-backs. They're 9-5 on zero days rest that's a .642 winning percentage which is better than most teams can hope for after a week break. Still, it's a step down from the .750 clip they've won at with one or more days off, so the Celtics will take it.

Then again, knowing Gregg Poppovich he'll probably tell Tim Duncan and Tony Parker to stay at the hotel tonight and play Patrick Mills and Tiago Splitter 48 minutes a piece.

One thing working against the C's tomorrow? The Spurs are 12-1 on Wednesdays!

The Celtics? They're only 6-5.

I'd say more, but that stat's completely meaningless.

Anyway, that's all for now. The blog is dark tomorrow. See you all on Thursday

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Rask out of Bruins' must-win game vs. Islanders with 'lower body injury'

Rask out of Bruins' must-win game vs. Islanders with 'lower body injury'

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – In another body blow to the playoff chances for the Bruins, Tuukka Rask will be out tonight with what the B’s are calling a “lower body injury”  for their must-win game against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center.

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said that Rask came to the Bruins practice facility on Friday and got treatment on his lower body, but determined “he wouldn’t able to go” in Boston’s biggest game so far this season. Instead, backup Anton Khudobin will get the nod against the Isles. His last start was 10 days ago against the Calgary Flames, but he's a goalie who's also riding a four-game winning streak headed into a mega-important game for the Black and Gold, who have lost four in a row to damage their playoff hopes.

“He came in [on Friday] with some discomfort in the lower body, so he had some work done and didn’t feel like he’d be ready to go today,” said Cassidy of Rask after the Saturday morning skate in Brooklyn. “We had talked about getting Anton [Khudobin] in any way, and that was part of it. Those plans are always subject to change.

“So there’s no real surprise in that area, but we’re monitoring it really closely. We expect that he’ll be able to practice on Monday.”

There was no sign of injury for Rask in the 6-3 loss to Tampa Bay on Thurday night, in which he gave up five goals and looked shaky in the second and third period. Cassidy confirmed that Rask's equipment issue with his skate in the Lightning game had nothing to do with the injury. Rask was soft-voiced and trailed off in a couple of his answers while taking his share of responsibility following the Tampa loss and certainly seemed uncharacteristically downcast after that particular defeat.  

Rask’s surprise absence has a lot of parallels and a bit of the same feeling to the Bruins goaltender also being unable to play in last year’s regular season do-or-die finale where the Bruins dropped a brutal, pathetic 6-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators to knock them out of the playoff race.

One always wants to give a player the benefit of the doubt when an injury is involved, but one can’t escape the feeling that Boston’s No. 1 goalie should be able to play on Saturday in a must-win game, with so much on the line, if he’s expected to be healthy enough to practice a couple of days from now.

The Islanders and Bruins each have 82 points but the Bruins sit out of the playoff picture, in the ninth spot in the NHL's Eastern Conference, heading into tonight's showdown. 

Rookie Zane McIntyre has been called up on emergency recall to serve as Khudobin's backup vs. the Islanders. 


 

Knicks' Noah suspended 20 games by NBA for drug policy violation

Knicks' Noah suspended 20 games by NBA for drug policy violation

NEW YORK - Joakim Noah of the New York Knicks has been suspended 20 games without pay for violating the league’s anti-drug policy.

The NBA announced the suspension Saturday, saying Noah tested positive for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator LGD-4033 – something that can be found in over-the-counter supplements.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports first reported the suspension.

Noah has not played since Feb. 4 and was likely to miss the Knicks’ final 10 games this season because of a knee injury. The NBA said Noah’s suspension will begin with the ”first NBA regular season or playoff game for which he is eligible and physically able to play.”

Noah is in the first year of a four-year, $72 million contract. He and the Knicks (27-45) have been a disappointment this season. He averaged 5.0 points and 8.7 rebounds in 46 games this season, and has been limited to 75 games over the past two seasons.