It's one game for Rondo

744214.jpg

It's one game for Rondo

Well, Czar Stern finally ruled on the Rajon Rondo case, and in then end, merely confirmed what we assumed all along.

Tomorrow night in Atlanta, the C's will be without their starting point guard. In reality, they'll probably be without their entire starting backcourt from the beginning of the season (and the last four playoff runs), as Ray Allen continues to work towards a return but doesn't seem to have made much progress.

This leaves the Celtics with Avery Bradley, Keyon Dooling and E'Twaun Moore as the only natural guards available for tomorrow's game (again, this is assuming Ray doesn't go), with swingers Mickael Pietrus and Sasha Pavlovic available to eaten up some time at the two spot.

It's an obviously awful predicament for the C's, who had their hands full even when Rondo was active. His absence creates a huge play making void one that won't be filled by Bradley and puts more pressure on Paul Pierce to create and dictate the offense. Given Pierce's poor performance in Game 1, and his recent physical issues, is Pierce ready to carry the extra load?

The answer may determine whether the C's fly back to Boston riding high off an upset win, or crawl back in an 0-2 hole, needing a win to effectively save their season. But in the meantime, let me just say this: Thank God for Avery Bradley's emergence.

Sure, he didn't bring his "A" Game last night, and appeared affected by the atmosphere in his maiden playoff voyage. And sure, he's definitely much better as the yin to Rondo's yang, as opposed to handling the yang all on his own. But if not for his arrival as a viable NBA player, the Celtics would be lost tomorrow. In terms of depth, speed and athleticism; having another guy who can bring up the ball and run a reasonable fast break. Bradley's their only reliable option. And as far as this season goes, he really came out of no where.

With every passing day, the Celtics more thankful that he did.

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

Bruce Cassidy: Bruins 'have got to have a stronger mental capacity' in times of adversity

Bruce Cassidy: Bruins 'have got to have a stronger mental capacity' in times of adversity

BOSTON – While there were some warning signs over the last few weeks that the Bruins might be getting away from their game, it didn’t really hit home until Thursday night’s frustrating loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

The Bruins blew through three different one-goal leads in the second period in the 6-3 loss to the Bolts at TD Garden, and each time surrendered a tying goal to Tampa in less than two minutes after initially scoring. It was a clear indicator that the Bruins weren’t fully focused on the task at hand despite having already lost three games in a row, and that their ability to bounce back from adversity is going away from them again. 

That much was obvious when the bottom dropped out in the third period, and Jonathan Drouin and Nikita Kucherov turned into a two-man Lightning wrecking crew outscoring the Bruins by a 3-0 margin in the final 20 minutes. 

“I think the frustration is more in-game, where we’ve got to have a stronger mental capacity to handle those [challenging] situations in-game. Let’s face it, when you get on a bit of a losing streak, all those things creep in, whether it’s in October or whether it’s in March,” said Bruce Cassidy. “You have doubts, you start pressing, and again, it’s my job to alleviate the kind of attention in those situations.

“But, as I told you, we all have to be accountable and be responsible for ourselves, and that’s where we just need to have better focus and better discipline in those areas. It was there when it was 3-3 [on the scoreboard]. We’ve got to push back after they score, and that’s where I thought we started to come apart a little bit where we should’ve stuck together and stuck with the program. [We needed to] get ourselves slowly back into the game. We had 10 minutes to even the score, and we weren’t able to do it.”

Clearly this wasn’t just the coach alone in his pointed observations, however, as the lack of focus showed unfortunately in a rudderless second period for the Black and Gold where they couldn’t gain any separation from Tampa Bay despite scoring three goals. 

“[It’s] not being focused, not being sharp, and obviously at this time of the year it’s unacceptable, and it’s up on us to be better,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. “Those kinds of situations shouldn’t happen. So, for sure, we need to address those things and hold each other accountable.”

One thing is clear: The Bruins have a lot of work to do if they hope to avoid the same kind of late season tailspin that doomed them each of the last two seasons, and already seems to be happening over their last four losses to varying levels of hockey talent. 

Talking points: Tuukka Rask wasn't good enough vs. Lightning

ap_17083100627774.jpg

Talking points: Tuukka Rask wasn't good enough vs. Lightning

Here are the talking points from the Boston Bruins' 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.