the mismatches

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chen jian

: 02.07.2018
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: 08, 2018 1:53 am     : the mismatches

Bruins forward Brad Marchand has used the past few days since his team was eliminated in the second round in five games by the Tampa Bay Lightning to reflect on his role in the loss.

Marchand drew national attention and a reprimand from the NHL after he was caught licking the face of Lightning forward Ryan Callahan during a confrontation in the Lightnings 4-3 overtime Game 4 win that pushed the Bruins to the brink of elimination.

For Marchand , who scored 34 goals during the regular season and represented the Bruins at the All-Star Game, the licking incident added to his list of infractions. He has been suspended by the NHL six times and fined three.

Now Marchand is thinking about cleaning up his act.

After having a couple days kind of looking back on the year and seeing whats happened the last few days I guess, with all the media and everything, I think the biggest thing for me now is to really take a pretty hard look in the mirror and realize the actions, some of the things that Im doing, have much bigger consequences, Marchand said during the Bruins breakup day at the Warrior Ice Arena on Wednesday.

Especially the last thing I ever want to do is kind of bring the embarrassment on my teammates and the organization that it did. I have to be a lot better. I know Ive said that in the past, but I think that thats got to be the thing that I really work on the most.

I think Ive gotten my game into a pretty decent spot, but I got some character things and things that Ive done that clearly need some fixing.

The Bruins may not have to change much despite coming up short in their quest for their first Stanley Cup since 2011. They won 50 games for the 10th time in franchise history and finished second in the Eastern Conference, one point behind Tampa Bay.

They went 14-0-4 from Dec. 16 to Jan. 25, which was their longest point streak since they went 18 games (13 wins, five ties) without a loss from Dec. 28 Giants Saquon Barkley Jersey , 1968 to Feb. 5, 1969 and tied for the second-longest point streak in team history.

One year after losing in the first round of the playoffs to the Ottawa Senators, the Bruins defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games in the first round and advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

They accomplished this while losing 304 regular-season man games to injury and integrating five rookies to the lineup.

We started with some injuries as you saw. But then we got most of our guys back and we started playing with a full lineup and it showed on the ice. We were slowly and surely climbing the standings, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said.

We faced some challenges about three-fourths into season again with some injuries, still we had guys filling the gaps and the roles and we kept finding ways to win games. So thats very positive about this team and resiliency and never-give-up attitude.

Many Bruins players were still coming to terms with being eliminated.

Several others, including Patrice Bergeron (groin), David Backes (concussion), Torey Krug (fractured ankle) and Marchand (groin), were dealing with injuries as often happens with Cup contending teams this far into the playoffs.

But to a man they were confident that there are better things ahead for the Bruins, who have seven unrestricted free agents among the 26 players that finished the season on their roster.

I think the thing that were excited about next year is we have a lot of the team returning, which is huge. It was a big learning experience for the young guys that came in, Marchand said.

A lot of highs and lows so it should be a learning experience for them , and same with us (the veterans), we can always draw a lot from each and every year. So hopefully we can all bring the benefits from this season into next year and be even better.

More NHL hockey: The odds are longer than a Stephen Curry 3-pointer, Kevin Durants wingspan or Draymond Greens catalog of technical fouls.

LeBron James and the Cavaliers are being given little or no chance of winning their fourth straight NBA Finals matchup against the Golden State Warriors, who have been installed by Las Vegas bookmakers as the heaviest favorites in the past 16 years.

Wanna bet?

The Warriors are 12-point favorites to win Thursdays Game 1, the largest spread in a Finals game since 1991, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue isnt blinking.

Were all focused on winning a championship, Lue said Tuesday before the team flew to California. We played our best basketball going into the playoffs. Weve gotten better and better throughout the course of the playoffs. Our main focus and our main objective is to win a championship, so we cant worry about what the outside guys are saying and whos being picked. We know what we have here and what were trying to do.

Cavs vs. Warriors, Part IV: an expected conclusion to an unpredictable season.

Lue said All-Star forward Kevin Love remains in concussion protocol and his status for the series opener is in question. Love sat out Clevelands Game 7 win at Boston on Sunday after suffering a head injury when he and Celtics rookie forward Jayson Tatum accidentally banged heads during the opening minutes of Game 6.

Love was replaced in the starting lineup by veteran Jeff Green, who stepped up and scored 19 points as the Cavs completed their comeback after trailing 2-0 and 3-2 in the series.

Love is expected back for the Finals, and Lue needs his experience against the Warriors, who like the Cavs rallied to win the Western Conference finals by taking Game 7 on the road.

There was a moment when it looked as if both Cleveland and Golden State could miss the Finals.

It disappeared quickly ,

Theyve been tested. Weve been tested, Lue said. Theyve been to Game 7s. Weve been to Game 7s. Weve won championships and theyve won championships, so they understand what it takes and they knew what it took.

Since the playoffs opened, Cleveland has embraced the Whatever It Takes mantra that began as a catchy organizational slogan and morphed into a way of survival.

The Cavs have twice been pushed to seven games, overcome injuries and gotten much-needed contributions to ease the burden on James from role players Green, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr.

However, in this series when every possession will be magnified, Lue will count on four players who have been around since the Cavs first met the Warriors in the 2015 Finals.

And because they won a championship in 2016 together, the core four of James, Love, J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson share something special.

Just having these guys here who have been through it, been through the tough times , been through the great times as well, this is a bond that cant be broken, Lue said. Just reminds me a lot of guys I played with back in the day when you see Horace Grant, Robert Horry, Derek Fisher, just something about winning a championship with those guys that you will never forget, and its a bond that cant be broken.

While Love has been solid, Smith and Thompson havent always come through this season for Cleveland.

One of the streakiest shooters in the league, Smith has had prolonged slumps. Thompson, who missed time with a severe calf injury, wasnt a factor until Lue started him in Game 7 of the Indiana series.

Lue never lost faith in either player. Its a trust that cant be measured.

Im always going to stick behind my guys, Lue said. Even when theyre struggling Jason McCourty Color Rush Jersey , I just have confidence and a belief that when we need those guys, and we call on those guys, theyll be ready and theyll produce. Youve seen that throughout the course of the playoffs this year and youve seen it the last three years, that those guys are up for the challenge. They rise to the occasion. And just because a guy is not playing well, you cant give up on a guy.

You gotta give those guys a chance, especially when youve been there before with them and you know who they are.

Unlike the past three Finals, Lue wont have Kyrie Irving, traded to Boston last summer.

The All-Star point guard was Clevelands not-so-secret weapon, the one the Cavs turned to in order to spell James and keep the Warriors off-balance.

He allowed us to go one on one against the mismatches and cant nobody stop him one on one, Lue said. Were gonna miss that, but were just going to have to play a different style of basketball without him being here.

Now thats a safe bet.

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