Thibodeau: Team effort required to contain Pierce, Garnett


Thibodeau: Team effort required to contain Pierce, Garnett

BOSTON -- Tom Thibodeau watched from the sidelines as Paul Pierce struggled.

The Boston Celtics captain shot 5-for-17 from the field against the Chicago Bulls, including 2-for-9 in the first half alone. Yet the Bulls head coach and former Celtics assistant coach saw something different than a tough shooting night. He saw the player who was named the 2008 NBA Finals MVP, one of the toughest competitors in the league, and a shooter who could not be left alone.

"A guy like Pierce, hes such a great scorer, he scores so many different ways, youve got to guard him with your team," Thibodeau said following the Bulls 100-99 overtime win. "He missed some shots he normally makes, but you have to make him play in a crowd and challenge his shots as much as you can. He still has the ability to make it even if you defend it well. He was off a little bit so that was our good fortune, but Pauls a great player. Hes been a great player for a long time.

"Every time he shoots the ball, I think its going in and he plays you at a great speed. You know hes always under control, he has great strength. People dont realize what a great athlete he is. So you guard him with your team."

Then there was Kevin Garnett, who shot 1-for-10 through three quarters and scored 13 points between the fourth quarter and overtime.

"Garnett just works the game," said Thibodeau. "The first half, nothings really going and then in the end, making big shots, big plays, he impacts the game in so many different ways. As does (Rajon) Rondo. Theyre so disruptive."

Pierce, Garnett, and Rondo are the only remaining members of the 2008 championship team. Thibodeau has experienced their talent firsthand and believes they have enough to drive the Celtics.

What he saw on the court Friday night isn't a reflection of how good he thinks they can be.

"The Celtics are a great team," he said. "I think (Avery) Bradley being out made it a little different for them, hes been playing well. But they have a lot of new players, who as you can see are getting more comfortable. And once they get some games together, this team is going to be very, very dangerous.

Video: Chara hits practice goalie in groin

Video: Chara hits practice goalie in groin

BRIGHTON, Mass -- Life as an emergency practice goalie can be pretty rough.

Take, for instance, Mass State Trooper Keith Segee, who has suited up a couple of times for the Boston Bruins this season during times of need, and did exactly that during Wednesday’s optional practice for the Black and Gold.

Segee got caught with a Zdeno Chara cranked slap shot right in the family jewels, and then had to walk…er, crawl it off like any normal human being would after getting bombed by a guy that can shoot it 108-mph.

“He’s got the hardest shot of anybody I’ve ever seen,” said Segee, with a smile. “I had to take two or three laps around the rink after that one and skate it off.”

Give Chara credit for moving right over to Segee and giving him a tap on the backside for skating it off, and risking life, limb and perhaps a lot more to stop a few pucks for the Black and Gold.

Segee played at Revere High and Salem State College before joining the Mass State Police, and got the emergency gig through Bruins goalie coach Bob Essensa when Boston needed a practice goalie at the end of last week in Tuukka Rask’s absence.

Let’s hope Segee is okay at this point, or the Bruins captain could be looking at a few more moving violations in his future. 

Wednesday, March 29: Oilers back in the playoffs

Wednesday, March 29: Oilers back in the playoffs

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while gearing up for the last couple of weeks.

*The Edmonton Oilers will return to the Stanley Cup playoffs this season as it looks like Canada will be well-represented once again after last year’s absence.

*Let’s meet the man behind the push to bring the NHL to China, and introduce the game to billions of people.

*Eric Staal is enjoying his second act with the Minnesota Wild, and even better he’s totally flourishing there as well.

*Let’s hear it for the US Women’s team that stuck to their guns and got an unprecedented deal with USA Hockey that will allow them to focus on winning for the next four years.

*PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough has Steve Stamkos “really close” to a return for the Tampa Bay Lightning, in a concerning development for the Boston Bruins’ playoff hopes.

*Apparently things are getting a little heightened with the Los Angeles Kings as some of their prominent players skipped a media session in Calgary.

*For something completely different: Let’s hear it for the best news of the day, the Cash Cab is coming back.