Thibodeau: Celtics playing at 'high level'


Thibodeau: Celtics playing at 'high level'

BOSTON -- Tom Thibodeau has seen the Boston Celtics play championship-caliber basketball. He has also watched them struggle at times on the court.

After a slow start at the beginning of this season, the former Celtics assistant coach and current Chicago Bulls head coach believes the Cs are back on track.

Theyre very experienced and I think theyre playing at a very high level, Thibodeau said following the Celtics 95-91 win over the Bulls on Sunday. Even in the Lakers game (an 88-87 Celtics overtime loss), I thought they played very well and could have won that. Of course they won the nine out of ten -- Ill throw out the Toronto game (an 86-74 loss) because to me that was a scheduling game. Back-to-back, late start here, and then travel to Toronto, that was a tough game for them.

Theyre playing at a high level. When you have (Paul) Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin (Garnett), and (Rajon) Rondo running the team, their bench I think is playing very well, theyre getting a lot of contributions from a number of different people. So theyre going to be a dangerous team.

During the Bulls previous visit to Boston, in which they won 88-79, Thibodeau emphasized the impact Pierce has on the Celtics. Pierce was coming off a foot injury at the time and was still working to find his rhythm back on the court. Now that he has established it (he was recently named Eastern Conference Player of the Week), Thibodeau points to the Celtics captain as a major factor in their success.

He also noticed the improvements in the Celtics bench. Rookie JaJuan Johnson scored a career-high 12 points on Sunday and Chris Wilcox, moved to the starting lineup in place of an injured Jermaine ONeal, contributed 11 points and nine rebounds.

I think Paul is healthy, so thats the big thing, he said. Rondos healthy, Kevins been at a high level all year, and Rays had a spectacular year. But I think the big thing is their bench has had time now to get acclimated to their system and comfortable playing with each other. I think when you have a shortened camp like everybody did, if you have new players its going take time. But I think the big thing is Pauls health.

The Celtics (15-12) will face the Bulls (23-7) again on Thursday in Chicago.

Bruins' skid continues in 6-3 loss to Lightning

Bruins' skid continues in 6-3 loss to Lightning

BOSTON – The Bruins are doing it again. 

With a team that was badly in need of a win, the Bruins couldn’t get any separation from the Tampa Bay Lightning before ultimately sagging in the third period on the way to a deflating 6-3 loss at TD Garden on Thursday night. 

It marks four losses in a row for the Black and Gold with Thursday night as the worst among them, and doesn’t extinguish any of the concerns that Boston is in another late-season tailspin. 

Jonathan Drouin beat Tuukka Rask with a shot from the face-off circle that dipped underneath his glove hand for the game-winner, and Nikita Kucherov added the final two goals to give him a hat trick for a Bolts team that snapped their own three-game losing streak. 

This game had all the warning signs after a nondescript first period with the Bruins giving up goals immediately after they scored three times in the second period. The first was a David Pastrnak power play strike for his 32ndof the season, and the Lightning struck 44 seconds later with a Brayden Point rebound score after a big breakdown by Boston’s best players on the ice. 

Zdeno Chara again gave the Bruins a short-lived lead on a shorthanded goal in the second period, but Tampa Bay responded with a blistering Nikita Kucherov one-timer just 24 seconds later with the Bolts still on the power play. Boston scored again on a Riley Nash wraparound bid that he threw off the diving Victor Hedman in the crease, and Boston had a brief one-goal lead once again. 

It was 1:35 later that Anton Stralman beat Rask high to the glove side on an odd-man rush and that set up a third period where Tampa Bay scored three unanswered goals and sent the Bruins to their fourth straight loss. 

Report: Steelers' offer for Dont'a Hightower was bigger than Patriots'

Report: Steelers' offer for Dont'a Hightower was bigger than Patriots'

Dont'a Hightower left money on the table in New York and in Pittsburgh, and instead took a smaller deal to return the New England Patriots, according to CBSSports' Jason La Canfora.

The Jets' offer was previously reported to be $12 million per year, including incentives. La Canfora reiterated that report. But he also detailed Pittsburgh's offer, as the Steelers also outbid the Patriots with over $9 million per year.

Instead, Hightower settled for $8.7 million per season with New England, and will play under Bill Belichick in a Patriots jersey for the sixth season in 2017.

Hightower traveled a great deal during free agency, and ended up garnering interest from the Steelers, Jets, Tennessee Titans and Miami Dolphins.

The 27-year-old linebacker finished the 2016 season with 65 tackles tackles, 2.5 sacks, two pass deflections and one forced fumble. He also had a game-changing strip sack on Matt Ryan in Super Bowl LI that shifted the momentum of game.