Haggerty: Might be time for Corvo to hit the pine

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Haggerty: Might be time for Corvo to hit the pine

BOSTON -- Its time for the Bruins to do whats best for the team and admit that things arent working out with Joe Corvo right now.

Perhaps Corvo will play a big role in a playoff series or win his spot back after a few days of stepping away from the pressure cooker, but the Bruins defenseman was a liability for the Bruins in their 4-3 overtime win over the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden.

Corvo finished with 17:18 of ice time with 23 shifts in the overtime game, but he didnt play the first six minutes of the third period. That was because Claude Julien had shortened his bench and gone with a five-man defensemen rotation leaving Corvo on the outside looking in.

Its easy to see why given the three-zone breakdowns Corvo suffered in the middle period. It started with Corvo turning a puck over in the neutral zone on a backhanded attempt, who committed the D-man task of failing to know who was where on the ice and his puck mismanagement led to Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise leading a successful odd-man rush in the other direction.

Unfortunately, it also appeared that Corvo wasn't exactly busting it to get back into the play after his neutral zone brain fart, and he was nowhere to be found around the net when Parise finally scored with Dennis Seidenberg hung out to dry.

Julien finally pulled the trigger on a move he had to have been mulling for a few weeks, and pulled Corvo out of the defensemen pairing with the German blueliner. That lasted for five minutes, and then Corvo and Seidenberg again got stung on a Patrick Elias rebound score at the side of the net after Andrew Ference went down with a lower body injury.

Corvo was once again nowhere to be found around the net hes supposed to be guarding, and Julien referred to soft goals surrendered in the second period. So it went from soft goals to the bench to start the third period for Corvo, and Julien wasnt shying away from it after the Bs overtime win.

I dont throw my players under the bus, but obviously Corvo had a bit of a tough outing, said Julien. But well use him again. Its not the easiest night for Joe, but at the end we needed him, so he came back out there.

Unfortunately for Corvo, there isnt enough offense to offset the defensive indifference. He had one shot on net and a pair of giveaways to New Jersey and his play leaves the Bruins in a true dilemma. There isnt anybody else on the Bs roster that can recreate Corvos skating and puck skills from the defenseman position, and quality point positions on the power play are an underrated asset.

But none of that matters if Corvo isnt playing effectively enough to generate offense. Instead, his defensive foibles allowed New Jersey back into the game in another atrocious second period performance for the Bruins, and forced Boston into an overtime victory dictated by David Krejci.

With the goaltending and overall team defense for the Bruins rounding into shape the Bruins are doing their best to augment their weak spots on the ice. Corvo is a walking bulls-eye for playoff-bound teams looking to exploit the Bruins prior to the playoffs, and it doesnt have to be that way.

The Bruins have options with newly acquired Greg Zanon, who looked tremendously comfortable in his Bs debut, Johnny Boychuk on the fast road to recovery from a mild concussion and Mike Mottau all adding to the teams defensemen depth. The Corvo experiment has lasted 60 games, but his season is most closely remembered for costly breakdowns consistently leaving Seidenberg to clean up his mess in the defensive zone.

Its high time to remove a weakness from the Bs lineup and tell Corvo to hang in there while others get a chance to show what they could potentially do during the postseason. After all its not a death sentence that hell never get back into the lineup, but the Bruins cant afford any more soft performance in the defensive zone like the one authored by Corvo Thursday night.

Maybe Corvo will get the call Saturday against the Islanders, or maybe hell be the healthy scratch in favor of Boychuk or Zanon after another rough effort against the Devils. Time will tell, but a strong case is being made that the Bruins are much, much better off with Corvo sitting out a few plays while Boston figures things out.

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.