WILMINGTON, Mass. -- While there was a hubbub of excitement over the news that Nathan Horton skated for more than 30 minutes on his own Wednesday, he was no closer to a return than he was in the two months prior to that.
The Boston Bruins officially announced on Wednesday that Horton will miss the entire Stanley Cup playoffs after suffering a what was called a "mild concussion" on Jan. 22 against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Horton missed the final 36 games of the regular season and seven weeks of action after suffering the head injury. Those close to the power forward tell CSNNE.com he was never close to a return.
Here are a couple of reasons why: Horton was still weeks away from potentially practicing with his teammates entering the playoffs and even if he didnt have a single setback wouldnt have been ready to go until the final few rounds of the playoffs.
It was unrealistic to think that a tentative, healthy Horton would be a better option than battle-hardened Bruins wingers that had already passed through the first few postseason rounds.
To put it in further perspective, in 2007-08 when Patrice Bergeron suffered his serious concussion and harbored hopes of returning for the playoffs, he had been skating hard since the beginning of March. He might have been ready for the second round but says in retrospect he was glad that he wasnt tossed into playoff action before he was ready.
Theres also this startling fact: If Horton had returned to this springs playoffs for the Bruins and suffered another concussion, it would have been his third major head injury for the 26-year-old in less than a full year.
Thats the kind of risk that can put a players entire future at risk. Its also the kind of mistake the Bruins made in rushing Marc Savard along for the postseason two years ago against the Flyers. Savard was never the same again after playing in the playoffs against Philadelphia.
The Bruins would be making the same kind of error in rushing Horton back just because hed had a few good weeks.
Hortons biggest priority is not returning for this year's postseason. It's returning to full health next season, scoring goals, and giving Boston a power forward to complement Milan Lucic and David Krejci.
TORONTO – It’s far too soon to say if the Celtics’ decision to stand pat at the trade deadline was a mistake.
But the early returns aren’t encouraging.
Their 107-97 loss Friday night to the Toronto Raptors wasn’t because of Kyle Lowry (right wrist), who didn’t even play, or DeMar DeRozan, who played out his mind while scoring a career-high 43 points.
The game will be remembered by the new guys Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker, both acquired at the trade deadline by the Raptors.
Ibaka, who was a bad fit, and on most nights a bad player, in Orlando, looked like the O-K-C Ibaka while scoring 15 points to go with seven rebounds against the Celtics – numbers that were better than his two games combined against the Celtics this season with the Magic when he scored a total of just 12 points while grabbing eight rebounds.
And then there was Tucker, who got a crash video course on Raptors playbook just hours before the game, and proceeded to show the kind of toughness at both ends of the floor that has made him one of the league’s more underrated defenders as he finished with a near double-double of nine points and 10 rebounds.
It was their first game with their new team, but you would have thought they had been with Toronto all season long with how seamless they seemed to fit in.
Ibaka draining jumpers, Tucker causing chaos defensively, while absolutely crushing the Celtics on the boards...their play was a painful reminder of what could have been for the Green team.
Both were rumored to have been in the Celtics’ crosshairs prior to the Thursday 3 p.m. trade deadline. The Celtics were lukewarm at best on Ibaka (they didn’t want what would have been a 25-game rental) and just couldn’t quite strike a deal and cross the finish line for Tucker.
It’s too soon to hit the panic button and rip Danny Ainge for not getting a minor deal done like adding Tucker or Ibaka.
Still, his players have to embrace the truth behind what transpired this trade season.
Ainge went big-game hunting, focusing most of the team's efforts on landing a major difference-maker, a la Jimmy Butler or Paul George.
When that didn’t work out, he settled for the next best thing, which was to keep this group together.
The onus is now on them to prove that trust Ainge has in them, was well-placed.
Putting too much stock in the first game after the break is a risky proposition that no one should subscribe to.
But in the loss, it revealed many of the concerns and weaknesses of this roster that tend to get magnified in defeat while glossed over when they manage to win despite those flaws.
Isaiah Thomas may be the best scorer in the fourth quarter, but he’s human.
There will be games when Mr. Fourth Quarter can’t get it done.
Friday night was that kind of game for him. He scored just four of his team-high 20 points in the fourth.
And as the Raptors blitzed him repeatedly with two and three defenders, his teammates failed to step up when the opportunity was there to make impactful, game-altering plays down the stretch.
Watching the Celtics’ defense in the second half was painful.
DeRozan got whatever he wanted, when he wanted it.
And when he missed, the Raptors controlled the boards, got all the 50/50 balls and repeatedly out-worked Boston.
It exposed Boston in a way that’s painful to see, especially when those inflicting the greatest amount of damage could have been in the Celtics huddle and not the one on the other sideline.
Greg Hardy, Chris Mannix, and Glenn Ordway discuss what the Celtics should have done before the trade deadline, and what they need to do in the offseason in order to reach the next level in playoffs.