Julien: Bruins have been 'very mediocre'

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Julien: Bruins have been 'very mediocre'

SUNRISE, FL. The Bruins have been very mediocre in the words of Claude Julien, and theyre determined to get back to their brand of hockey.

Boston's struggles have been masked by its winning ways over the last few weeks, but its problems all came to a head when the Bs collapsed in the third period Saturday night against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Now the Bruins face the Panthers, a legitimate playoff team with a grudge.

Why the grudge? Hockey teams usually take it personally when they get gut bludgeoned by an 8-0 score two days before Christmas like the Bruins pounded the Panthers at TD Garden, and now Florida entertains a Boston team attempting to find their footing. The Bruins will also be without Brad Marchand (suspension) and Rich Peverley (personal matter) at the BankAtlantic Center, and could be in for a tough night if theyre not ready to play.

Were falling short in certain areas," Zdeno Chara said. "We lost more battles than in previous games, and need to pay more attention to details. We knew that Carolina wasnt our best game and we need to bounce back. We have a few games before the All-Star break and we want to go out with some wins. We know theyre really good at home. They have a very hard style. We have to be ready to do our thing, work extremely hard and not take anything fore granted.

We played really well in the last game and Florida didnt have a great night. Im sure theyre going to be way better tonight.

The Bs coach was a little more succinct about what he didnt see against the Hurricanes, and what he wants to see against the Panthers on Monday night.

We need to be sharper in all areas. Our battle level has to be better. Our passing and willingness to take pucks to the net need improvement, said Julien. Basically our whole game has slipped. Were not to the point of being a bad team, but its slipped to us being a very mediocre team right now. We need to bring it back to the level thats expected of our group.

Strong words from the Bs coach that will only get stronger if theyre not followed up by a more typical effort from the Bruins in Florida on Monday night.

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.”