Haggerty: Five thoughts from Bruins-Senators


Haggerty: Five thoughts from Bruins-Senators

OTTAWA Here are five thoughts from the first period with the Bruins leading the Senators by a 1-0 score after the first 20 minutes of action at Scotiabank Place.

1) The Bs third line takes advantage of Filip Kuba caught deep in the neutral zone, and turns it into a 2-on-1 with Erik Karlsson fruitlessly waving at the puck. Thats exactly how the Bruins are going to attack Ottawa in a playoff series. Simply hammer away at that defensive pairing and make them pay for the risks they take in the offensive zone. Its the reason the Bruins have so much success against the Senators.

2) A 17-save first period for Anton Khudobin, who has looked very good against the Senators. Ottawa had some pretty good chances, but Khudobin has looked versatile while making every save in the book. His quiet stop on an Erik Karlsson blast from the high slot through traffic and his stuff of Daniel Alfredsson on an inside-the-post try sit as his best in the first 20 minutes.

3) Benoit Pouliot with 16 goals on the season after his first period strike and it appears that the gifted winger is playing his best hockey of the season when it matters most. Hes also just one goal scored away from matching his career-high. The 1.1 million contract Peter Chiarelli signed him to has worked out very well for the Black and Gold.

4) Its Who-dobin for those that havent been paying attention to the Kazakhstan pronunciation experts among us. The potential for great headlines with his last name is off the charts.

5) A relatively calm first period between the two teams. Looks like they might be taking it easy on each other with a rugged seven-game series potentially around the corner.

Celtics miss an opportunity in first half with LeBron in foul trouble

Celtics miss an opportunity in first half with LeBron in foul trouble

CLEVELAND – There are 240 minutes of play in an NBA game, but Boston’s 112-99 Game 4 loss to Cleveland came down to seven (six minutes and 46 seconds to be precise).

That would be the amount of time left in the second quarter that LeBron James spent on the bench with four personal fouls (a first for him in the first half of an NBA playoff game ever) and Boston ahead by 10 points.

Boston could not have asked for a better scenario than that, especially considering how well they had played up to that point in the game and again, knowing that James wasn’t about to set foot back on the court until the third quarter.

But here’s the problem.

Boston’s 10-point lead when James left with four fouls.

Halftime rolled around and Boston’s lead was still at just 10 points.

Celtics players agreed that not finding a way to increase their lead with James out was among the more pivotal stretches of play in Game 4.

“They did a really good job of not letting it (the 10-point lead) get out of control while he was on the bench,” Boston’s Marcus Smart told CSNNE.com. “Every time we scored, they came back and scored.  They answered back with everything we answered.”

While many will point to that stretch as a time when the Celtics failed to make the necessary adjustments to increase their chances of winning, it wasn’t as if the Cavs are a one-man team.

“They still have two All-Stars out on the court,” said Boston’s head coach Brad Stevens, referring to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. “With the best player in the world they go to unreal, but they’re still a pretty darned good team when those guys are out there.”

Irving had a playoff career-high 42 points which included him scoring 12 of Cleveland’s 14 points in the final 6:46 of the second with James on the bench.

“He’s one of the best point guards in the NBA, and you know, you can tell he puts in a lot of work in his game, a lot of respect from myself, my teammates,” said Avery Bradley. “We have to do a better job at defending him as a unit, trying to make everything hard on him. He definitely got a great rhythm going tonight, and I felt like we had a chance to make it harder on him.”

James still finished with a strong stat line for the night – 34 points, six assists, five rebounds and a blocked shot.

As good as he was on the court, the Celtics have to be kicking themselves for not doing more with the time James on the bench in the second quarter which in hindsight, was among the bigger factors in them now returning home facing elimination as opposed to being tied at two games apiece in this series.

“What are you going to do?” said Cleveland’s Kevin Love. “You have to continue to fight through it. At halftime, we were down 10. We made some adjustments on the defensive end and we just fought; we needed to. They got everything out of us tonight in that second half, but we played more inspired basketball as well.”