Lucic, Bruins get into a spirited skate following disappointing scrimmage

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Lucic, Bruins get into a spirited skate following disappointing scrimmage

The less-than-stellar results from Tuesday nights Black and Gold scrimmage added more than a little emphasis and spirit to a Wednesday training camp session at Ristuccia Arena.
Bruins coach Claude Julien ran the 27 camp skaters through a fast-paced session that included full-length two-on-two drills and three-on-three battle drills down low around the net.
The losing members of the three-on-three drills then had to take a punitive end-to-end skate before waiting for their next turn in the drill, and that brought out the pride and emotion in some of the Bs skaters. Milan Lucic got so worked up after one round of three-on-three was over that he twice slammed his stick against the plexi-glass boards and then fired his twig into the bench in a fit of pique.
Today was good. We did a lot of battle drills. We tried to create a screen and get those forward vs. defense drills where theyre trying to box us out when were trying to get to the net, said Lucic. Theres the famous three-on-three drill, which is good because its very competitive when the pride kicks in.
I think the only thing we can control right now is the effort and how hard we can work, and hopefully all of that is there. I think this group has had a lot of pride over the last two or three years and were going to need that going into Saturday.
For Julien, the scrimmage gave him an idea of where each individual player sits with the regular season set to begin on Saturday night. It also gives the coaching staff the proper hammer and cudgel needed to start seriously working the Bruins skaters for the next few days.
They wont get another chance to push the Bruins players until the month of February as they embark on seven scheduled games in the 13 days of January on the schedule. The Black and Gold start February by playing two scheduled games in the first eight days before things pick up a little bit, and there wont be much room for practice at all in the busy, busy months of March and April.
So Julien has to weigh all of that with hoping to avoid the groin and hamstring injuries that are already cropping up in training camps all across the NHL. Thats no easy feat for the Bruins coaching staff, but its a balance theyre keenly aware of.
When you get to this stage of camp it is pretty delicate, but there is risk and there is reward, said Julien. There is no 100 percent here, I guess, so you need to do what you think is right for the team. It may mean a couple of injuries, but you hope it doesnt.
But youve got to look at the big picture rather than the small picture. We have six days of camp to get ready for the league game and we need to put as much together as we can. Weve taken the precaution of not having lengthy practices, but weve ramped up the intensity to make the most of the time that were on the ice. With the intensity and battle level in practice, I dont mind having these kinds of numbers of players because you get quality and you get the rest thats needed.
There was some thought that the Bruins might make a round of camp cuts following Tuesday nights scrimmage against Providence, but Julien indicated that no determinations have been made about Jamie Tardif, Ryan Spooner, Lane MacDermid, Matt Bartkowski and David Warsofsky or veteran camp invite Jay Pandolfo.
There seems to be no rush as long as Julien can continue dialing up the intensity for the few next few days before players are expected to look much more like themselves Saturday night against the New York Rangers.  

Horford admits he was 'very emotional' after 'special' win

Horford admits he was 'very emotional' after 'special' win

CLEVELAND – For about 30 or so seconds following Boston’s 111-108 Game 3 win over Cleveland, Al Horford was not Al Horford.

He’s a passionate player, but seldom is it on display in as outwardly a fashion as it was following their Game 3 victory.

In an interview with CSN’s Abby Chin after the game, Horford tried to put into words what the victory meant.

But the aggressive high-fives to teammates passing him by, the intense way he looked into the camera … that spoke volumes about what this game meant to the veteran big man.

“It’s big, it’s big!” Horford said in between high-fives with Jonas Jerebko and other Celtics who came past him.

“A lot of people doubting us out there!” Horford said, staring intently into the camera as if he was saying, ‘yeah, I’m talking about you!’”

Less than 24 hours after the game, Horford’s emotions had cooled down considerably.

“It was an emotional game,” he told CSN following a short practice at the Q Arena on Monday. “Just, having to hear … since the blowout, everybody counting us out. Everybody really believing that it was over.”

The Celtics came into Game 3 having lost both Games 1 and 2 at home by a combined 57 points which includes the worst playoff loss (Game 2, 130-86) in franchise history.

So with that as the backdrop, knowing full well that no one outside of their locker room gave them an ice cube in hell’s chance at winning Game 3, the victory brought about a level of satisfaction that Celtics players had seldom experienced before if at all.

“The emotions at that time were high for our group,” Horford admitted. “And it shows what we’ve been talking about all year, a resilient group that has a lot of fight in them. We were hit with some adversity with Isaiah being down but our group responded.”

Thomas re-aggravated a right hip injury in Game 2, and was later ruled out for the rest of the playoffs. 

After falling behind 77-56 in the third quarter, the Celtics closed out the third with a 26-10 run to come within 87-82 going into the fourth quarter. During the run, Marcus Smart had 11 points which turned out to be equal to LeBron James’ scoring output … for the entire game.

This is Horford's 10th NBA season, all of which have included a trip to the postseason.

That, combined with having won a pair of national championships when he played at the University of Florida, serves as a reminder that the 30-year-old has been on the winning ledger of big games before.

But even he acknowledged Sunday’s Game 3 win was … different.

“I have had plenty of moments like this,” Horford said. “But this was definitely emotional. This was very emotional, exciting, on the road, no one really giving us any chance. To be able to come through like that, it just felt great. I’ve been part of emotional wins, but this one was a special one.”

That was evident in Horford’s energy-charged, post-game comments.

“Heart! Heart! This team got heart!” he yelled. “We got beat bad (in Game 2), but it’s all about how you rebound!”

And we get that message, loud and clear!

'Ecstatic' Thomas was with Celtics teammates via FaceTime after Game 3 win

'Ecstatic' Thomas was with Celtics teammates via FaceTime after Game 3 win

CLEVELAND – Gone but definitely not forgotten.

Isaiah Thomas, out for the rest of the playoffs with a right hip injury, wasn’t in the Q Arena physically, but his presence – and his face via FaceTime – were inside the locker room in the initial moments following their 111-108 Game 3 win over Cleveland.

“We called him right after the game,” said Boston’s Avery Bradley. “He got to celebrate with us a little bit. It’s sad that he’s not here. We wish he was here with us. We just want him to get better.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens added, “I didn’t even realize that had happened until later on. one of my first text messages was from Isaiah.  He’s hurting not being out there but he’s completely invested, for sure.”

He initially suffered the injury on March 15 at Minnesota, but re-aggravated it in the first half of Boston’s Game 2 loss to the Cavs. Less than 24 hours later, Thomas was deemed out for the remainder of the playoffs.

Instead of Thomas being the rock of sorts that the Celtics lean on with his play, he has become their rallying cry for the remainder of the playoffs.

“All we can do is play hard for him,” Bradley said. “He was excited with the way we played. We’re a family. Other guys got an opportunity to step up for us. Marcus (Smart) had a big game for us. It could be somebody else next game.”

Smart led the Celtics with a career-high 27 points which included a career-best seven 3’s going down.

And most important, the Celtics avoided going down 3-0 which would have all but sealed their fate in this series considering no team in league history has ever come back for a 3-0 series deficit.

Doing so without Thomas, the Celtics’ leading scorer and the top regular season scorer in the Eastern Conference, made the win all that more impressive for Boston.

“It meant a lot,” Horford said. “We know, Isaiah gives us so much and gave us so much this year. For him, we definitely wanted to come out and fight for him and our season and our team. It felt good to keep believing despite being down big. Just felt good to win the game and bring life back to our locker room. Because going down 3-0, that’s a death sentence pretty much. This was big.”

Not only to the Celtics players but also to Thomas who also texted head coach Brad Stevens full of excitement following Boston’s surprising win.

“He was excited,” Horford recalled. “He was ecstatic. I know he wishes he was here being part of it. We just need to keep doing it for him and our group and doing the best we can.”