Not quite all in

197883.jpg

Not quite all in

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

As the Bruins get ready for Game 7 at the Garden, theres a quiet confidence brewing in Boston.

And I mean really quiet.

Like the 18th green at Augusta. High tea at Buckingham Palace. An interview with Rajon Rondo.

But regardless of the decibel level, that confidence does exist. If you polled Bruins fans, I think a majority would still pick the Bs to win this series. Whether theyre making that decision with their heart or their head, it doesnt matter. Boston believes the Bruins can do it.

Its just that no one wants to talk about it.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column where I called the Bruins the team that time forgot. Basically, that as the lone team without a parade during Bostons stretch of success, the Bruins are still treated with our old-school mentality. Back when you always anticipated the worse, and the idea of winning was always overshadowed by the fear of losing (again).

So when it comes to games like tonights against the Lightning, it gets a little weird. Theres confidence, yes. Theres no reason to believe this team cant go out there and win.

But theres also no reason to believe they will.

They havent earned that yet. There's no Bruins Swagger amongst fans. You can never assume any kind of victory.

Instead, heading into Game 7, you cant help but consider what happens if they lose. Not only how horrendous youll feel, but: What will the team look like from here? Is Julien gone? Chiarelli? Will Seguin make The Leap? What if Thomas comes back to Earth?

Or most importantly, when will they ever be this close again? How long will it be until the Bruins are one away from the Stanley Cup Finals?

Thats hard to say. On one hand, this doesnt exactly feel like the start of the next NHL dynasty. On the other, who knows? Theyll still have talent. Anything can happen. And thats the mentality well have going into Game 7. Ready for anything.

A win, and I dont know. Its impossible to sit here today and imagine the Boston Bruins playing for the Stanley Cup. Ive lived here too long, and seen so much, that its literally impossible to fathom what it would feel like if the Bruins win tonight and move on to Vancouver. I mean, these are the Bruins!

Still, with a win, theyre only one step closer to the promise land. The toughest challenge still lies ahead.

But with a loss, the ladder snaps and the Bruins come tumbling down. The same place they started, except now the fans are in a little deeper, a little more jaded and less likely to ever believe that the Bruins will end this awful stretch.

But tonight, the belief is still there. Maybe that's the natural feeling when youve got home ice and the best goalie in the game, but when it comes to the Bruins, there's nothing natural about it.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

Tune into CSN to watch the Celtics play the Raptors in Toronto. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by McDonald's on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game Preview: C's get first look at Ibaka in Toronto

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

[SHOP: Gear up, Celtics fans!]

- Live Extra FAQ: All your questions answered

- Latest on the Celtics: All of the most recent news and notes

- Talk about the game via social media on CSN's Pulse, presented by Ford

Celtics-Raptors preview: Ibaka is 'capable of changing the game'

Celtics-Raptors preview: Ibaka is 'capable of changing the game'

TORONTO – The decision to stand pat at the trade deadline for the Boston Celtics was made in part because they felt that as their roster is constructed, they can hold their own with anybody.

We’re going to find out just how true that is tonight as they face a revamped Toronto Raptors team that added a couple of notable players via trade, chief among them being Serge Ibaka from Orlando.

“That was a really good trade for them,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “Bringing in a guy like Serge Ibaka; a defender, a four-man that can switch out on guards. A guy that can space the floor, shoot the 3.  So that was a good addition. I’m excited to see how that’s gonna work other than tomorrow.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was also impressed with the Ibaka trade.

“That’s an improvement; there’s no question about it,” Stevens said. “Now you can play a number of different ways. He’s a really good player; he’s very agile. He’s a very good shooter. You can play him or (Patrick) Patterson at the four (power forward) the entire game now. You can play them together as a small-ball four and five (center). It gives them a lot of options on offense and defense.”

While praise for Ibaka is nothing new, you have to remember there were reasons as to why the Magic decided to give up on him so quickly, something even more hard to understand considering the assets they gave up (Victor Olidipo and a 2016 first-round pick used to select Domantas Sabonis, among others) to acquire him.

The Magic decided that they would not be in the running to re-sign Ibaka when he hits the free agent market this summer; this coming after the Thunder traded him primarily because they did not plan on giving him the near-max contract he’ll be seeking. So rather than play out this season and lose him for nothing, the Magic decided to trade him while they still could get something (Terrence Ross) in return.

While in Orlando, Ibaka averaged a career-high 15.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots per game. For his career (all prior to this season spent in Oklahoma City), he’s averaging 11.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.

But he never seemed to provide the kind of impactful, difference-making play that Orlando was seeking.

And while the Celtics speak highly of Ibaka, he hasn’t been much of a problem for the Celtics this season.

In two games against Boston, Ibaka has averaged 6.0 points and 4.0 rebounds.

Jae Crowder believes the struggles Ibaka has endured against the Celtics, are not a clear reflection of what he’s capable of doing as a player.

“For sure it makes them better,” said Crowder in describing the Raptors with Ibaka. “He’s a guy that can stretch the floor and rebound at a high rate. We know what he brings to the table.”

And those struggles we saw of him with the Magic?

“I think it was him more so than us,” Crowder said. “I give him credit because he wasn’t playing with the energy and passion he usually brings. I’ve been able to line up against him a quite a few times.  He didn’t have that passion like he did when he was in O-K-C (Oklahoma City). Maybe he’ll have it now. I know exactly what he’s capable of doing; he’s capable of changing the game with his play.”