Seguin, Marchand erase early miscues

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Seguin, Marchand erase early miscues

UNIONDALE, NY Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand had stat lines as bare as the hair on their shaved heads entering the third period of Saturday afternoons tilt against the New York Islanders.

It was one of those one out of 82 kind of games between a team destined for good things in the playoffs, and a team full of players getting their golf attire ready for mid-April. Seguin had missed very high and incredibly wide open an open net at the end of the first period on a one-timer, and Marchand had been turned away by Al Montoya on a breakaway chance in a tight game.

Other than that both players had been eerily quiet against an Islanders bunch not known for their defense or goaltending prowess. But Seguin and Marchand showed theyre sharpening their mental toughness and raising their level of determination by detonating the Islanders with a four-goal barrage in the third period that led to a 6-3 victory at Nassau Coliseum.

Our guys did a great job in the third, said Claude Julien. They didnt sit there in the third period and kept going right at them to build up that lead.

It gave the proper ending for a Bruins-friendly crowd at Nassau Coliseum that audibly yelled Woo! at the end of every Bs score, and it also showed that Boston might just be ready to install Marchand, Seguin and Bergeron together as one of their forward lines when the playoffs get started.

Claude Julien liked the resolve that he saw out on the ice after Seguin had feebly registered one shot, two giveaways and one missed open net at the end of 40 minutes.

Thats what we need. Sometimes guys will hang on to those missed opportunities and it just drags them down, said Julien. But these guys today were determined and committed. When they missed the first chance to score, they came right back and they scored on the second and third chances.

With the Bruins and Islanders locked into a 2-2 tie entering the third period, it seemed that somebody finally found the power button on both Seguin and Marchand. The 20-year-old forward zipped through the Islanders defense while rushing down the right wing, and then found Marchand crashing the slot area. Marchand faked one defender and then lifted a shot over Montoya for his team-leading 27th goal of the season.

Seguin wasnt okay with Marchand leading the team in goals scored all by himself, so he notched his 27th goal of the year on a wrist shot from the outside of the left face-off circle that flat beat Montoya.

The Islanders got one back in the third period, but Marchand and Seguin were at it again while creating a goal for Patrice Bergeron this time as he crashed down on a loose puck in the slot area. When the ice chips had settled Seguin and Marchand both had three points in the third period, and the trio wasnt on ice for a single goal allowed to the Islanders.

Seguin freely admitted he wasnt overjoyed with his recent play and it seemed he was slipping into some bad habits in the corners and around the front of the net recently but he reversed that while finding his own personal turbo button in the third period.

I thought our line played a really solid period in the third. It was nice for us to finish strong in the third, said Seguin. I thought I played okay. In the last few games I felt like I hadnt been playing badly, but I felt like I hadnt been playing spectacularly either. This is the time of year when you want to get a little hot going into the playoffs, and as a team you want to get that consistency. Thats what were all striving for.

Seguin and Marchand have to hope it wont arrive in 20 minute bursts when playoff time arrives, but they have to know the Bruins will be counting heavily on those offensive outbursts once they hit the postseason. Both have an outside chance at 30 goals scored with four games left in the season, and theyll need to play like consistent 30-goal scorers once the real season begins in just a few short weeks.

Ainge: Tatum was always the Celtics' top choice

Ainge: Tatum was always the Celtics' top choice

BOSTON --  For the past couple of years, Jayson Tatum has been a big-time talent.
 
As a high schooler, he was among the nation’s best. In his lone season at Duke, the 29-year-old established himself as one of college basketball’s top players.
 
And just like that, he’s off to the latest and greatest basketball challenge of them all -- the NBA, after the Boston Celtics selected him with the third overall pick in Thursday night’s NBA draft.
 
The Celtics had the top overall pick, but traded it to Philadelphia for the No. 3 selection and a future first-round pick.
 
Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, made it clear that had they not struck a deal to move down a couple spots, they would have selected Tatum with the number one overall pick.

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“It was a great compliment,” Tatum said via conference call after the draft. “I’m excited Danny Ainge thinks that highly of me.”
 
Said Ainge: “We like his size, length, shooting, intelligence, character. There’s a lot to like about Jayson. He’s going to be a terrific player.”
 
Coach Brad Stevens echoed similar sentiments.
 
“He’s a really skilled player, really talented scorer,” Stevens said. “Great kid, great work ethic. We’re excited to have him aboard.”
 
And Tatum comes in having been told lots of positives about Brad Stevens from his college coach, Mike Krzyzewski.
 
“He had nothing but great things to say about [Stevens],” Tatum said. “I got that impression when I met him for the first time.”
 
During his visit with the Celtics, Tatum said he watched film of Boston’s offense with Stevens in addition to some film of when he played at Duke.
 
Tatum understands there will be a learning curve of sorts when it comes into the NBA.
 
But his growth must also come about physically, too.
 
He arrived at Duke weighing less than 200 pounds, but the 6-foot-8 wing player has gained about 10 pounds since then.
 
Aware that he needs to add additional weight, Tatum isn’t overly concerned about that right now.
 
“I’m just 19,” he said. “So I’m pretty sure my body’s going to continue to fill out and see where I get; a comfortable playing weight.”
 
He has identified three areas of his game that need to be strengthened at the next level: Consistency on defense, getting stronger and consistency shooting the ball.
 
And as a Celtic, Tatum has quickly picked up on one of the seldom-talked about but vital aspects of being a Celtic: A disdain for the Los Angeles Lakers.
 
That might be a little tricky at first for Tatum, who grew up a Kobe Bryant fan.
 
“It makes it easier that Kobe doesn’t play anymore,” Tatum said. “Kobe was always my favorite player. I guess I just rooted for them because he was on there.

"But I’m a Celtics fan now.”

Bulls trade Butler to Timberwolves in blockbuster draft-night deal

Bulls trade Butler to Timberwolves in blockbuster draft-night deal

MINNEAPOLIS -- Ever since Tom Thibodeau took over in Minnesota last summer, a reunion with Chicago Bulls All-Star Jimmy Butler seemed destined to happen.

For the coach that desperately wanted a defensive-minded veteran to set the tone for a talented young roster, and for the player who only truly realized what he had in that hard-driving leader after he was gone.

"It's been something that over a prolonged period of time there have been different moments where he's had to consider it and think about it," Butler's agent, Bernie Lee, told The Associated Press. "In some ways it feels like it was spoken into reality."

In the blockbuster move of draft night, the Bulls traded Butler and the 16th overall pick Thursday night to the Timberwolves for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the No. 7 overall pick as the Wolves try to finally put an end to a 13-year playoff drought.

The trade brings together Butler and Wolves coach and president Thibodeau, who coached the Bulls for five seasons before being fired in 2015. Thibodeau helped Butler become an All-NBA performer and earn a $95 million contract and Butler helped Thibodeau instill the brass-knuckle mentality into those Bulls teams.

"The longer you are with somebody, the more deposits you have with each other, the trust is there," Thibodeau said. "You're not afraid to tell them the truth. So I think I know him well. I know the things that are important to him. I know he wants to win. And he wants to win big."

Now they're together again, trying to lead a franchise that has not made the playoffs since 2004.

"It's one of those moments where the excitement of tonight has to carry forward to the work that has to come," Lee said. "And if it does, it will really be a beautiful thing to see."

The Wolves paid a big price: Besides surrendering the lottery pick, they gave up a rising star in LaVine, who is coming off of a torn ACL and Dunn, last year's No. 5 overall pick. They were among the youngest teams in the league last season, cast as a team that could be a force once all of their pups grew up.

After a disappointing first season overseeing the operation, Thibodeau grabbed a fully grown pit bull to toughen the team up.

Butler played for Thibodeau for four seasons in Chicago, developing from an unheralded, late-first round draft pick into a perennial All-Star. The two strong-willed workaholics clashed on occasion during their time together and Butler said during the Olympics in Rio last summer that it was "love-hate" relationship.

But he also acknowledged that his appreciation for Thibodeau's hard-driving style increased as time went on, especially when the Bulls struggled in their first season under the more player-friendly Fred Hoiberg.

"They've come by their relationship honestly," Lee said. "They worked through a period to where they really came to learn what the other is about. ... They have a basis to work from, but things have changed and they've changed and adapted. They will take the starting point that they have, but they have to build on it."

The Wolves drafted Arizona sharpshooter Lauri Markkanen for the Bulls at No. 7 and the Bulls took Creighton forward Justin Patton at No. 16 for the Wolves. Patton is a 6-foot-11 forward who was the Big East freshman of the year after averaging 12.9 points and 6.1 rebounds last season.

When Thibodeau was hired as team president and coach last summer, he quickly set his sights on bringing Butler to Minnesota. The two sides engaged on serious discussions on draft night last year, but couldn't close it.

LaVine was having a breakout third season in the league when he tore the ACL in his left knee in February. His rehabilitation has gone well, but the injury certainly complicated the Wolves' re-engaging Chicago on Butler. Adding to the difficulty was Dunn's underwhelming first year in Minnesota, which diminished his trade value.

With all that in play, the Wolves were forced to also offer up the No. 7 pick this season to push the deal over the top. But they did receive Chicago's first-round pick in return. The move, and the package they assembled to make it, signal an organization that is desperate to start winning.

Butler averaged career highs in points (23.9), rebounds (6.2) and assists (5.5) in his sixth season. He is also one of the league's top defenders, an absolute necessity for a young team that finished 26th in the league in defensive efficiency last season. He will turn 28 in September, right in the middle of his prime for a team in need of veteran leadership.

"The most important thing to me are the things he does every day, the way he practices, the things that he does in meetings, the way he prepares before a game, the things that he does for recovery," Thibodeau said. "He'll show our players a lot of the things that he's learned along the way."

The move also represents the first significant steps toward an overhaul for the Bulls. Despite a spirited effort, the Bulls were eliminated by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Wade opted in for the final year of his contract, but that isn't stopping Chicago from pivoting to a new, younger nucleus that includes LaVine, Dunn, Markkanen and Denzel Valentine.

Now that Butler is gone, the 35-year-old Wade could become a buyout candidate as the Bulls go into rebuilding mode.