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Celtics wrap up season of new beginnings; NBA playoffs begin Saturday

The Boston Celtics (25-57) finished their first season in the post Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett era with a home loss on Wednesday against the playoff-bound Washington Wizards. Pierce and Garnett will also be playing in the post season when their No. 6 Brooklyn Nets (44-38) play the No. 3 Toronto Raptors (48-34) in a first-round matchup.

Boston ended in fourth place in the five-team Atlantic Division, trailing Toronto, Brooklyn and New York (37-45). Each of the three division winners in the 15-team Eastern Conference, followed by the next five best teams by record, qualified for the playoffs.

The Celtics under first-year head coach Brad Stevens did not make the playoffs, but they did make progress. Point guard Rajon Rondo returned from last year's season-ending injury to finish second among all NBA players with 9.8 assists per game. Rondo had a career best 26 three-pointers (in just 30 games), besting his previous high of 17. Of concern, though, is that since playing 81 games in 2009-10, Rondo's number of games played has dropped every year from 68 to 53 to 38 to 30.

Six of Boston's players averaged double figures in scoring led by forward Jeff Green (16.9), guard Avery Bradley (14.9), forward Jared Sullinger (13.3), Rondo (11.7), forward Brandon Bass (11.1) and guard Jerryd Bayless (10.1)

Sullinger, the youngest Celtic at age 21, led the team in rebounding at 8.1 per game (30th in the league). The 6-foot, 9-inch second year player shot a solid 77.8 percent from the foul line. Sullinger, who left Ohio State after his sophomore year, was the 21st pick overall in the first round of the 2012 NBA draft.

Rookie forward Kelly Olynk was another bright spot. NBA.com's Rookie Ladder (http://www.nba.com/rookie-ladder/) rates the Canada native eighth of all first year players. Olynyk's accurate shooting (three-pointers: 35.1 percent, free throws: 81.1 percent) helped him average 8.7 points per game (sixth among rookies), and his 5.2 rebounds per game (in just 20 minutes per game) was second. The 7-foot Gonzaga product was the 13th pick of the 2013 NBA draft.

NOTE: On the baseball front, Thursday's Portland Sea Dogs game against the New Britain Rock Cats scheduled for 6:35 p.m. at New Britain Stadium was postponed due to unplayable field conditions, the team reported. The game will be made-up as a doubleheader on Friday, April 18 at 5:35 p.m., Sea Dogs reported.

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 April 2014 23:59

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Streaking Sea Dogs postponed, begin road trip Thursday night

The Portland Sea Dogs — AA affiliate of the world champion Boston Red Sox — had their game postponed at home for the second night in a row Wednesday. Their shortened, but successful 4-1 home stand left the team just a half game out of first place in the Eastern League's Eastern Division.4-17-14-spts-KL-betts

The Sea Dogs (7-4), tied with Binghamton for second place, have played one fewer game then division leading Reading (8-4), and have one fewer win. The top two clubs in each division will compete in the Eastern League post-season.

The Sea Dogs hit the road for a three-game set with New Britain beginning Thursday evening and then have four games at Binghamton before returning home on Friday, April 25.

The Sea Dogs have already seen strong play from their three Red Sox Top 10 prospects (as ranked by Baseball America): starting pitcher Henry Owens (No. 2), catcher Blake
Swihart (No. 5) and second baseman Markus (Mookie) Betts (No. 7).

Betts (age 21,the league's sixth youngest position player) is leading the Eastern League with a .450 batting average. He is also the team leader with 6 doubles and 4 stolen bases. The righty has reached base in every game this season bringing his total regular season on base streak to 40 games. Tack on last year's 6 postseason games and his steak is 46. Betts hit .314 and stole 38 bases last year in Class A and was selected as Boston's minor league offensive player of the year.

Sea Dogs upcoming schedule:
Thursday, April 17 @ New Britain 6:35 p.m.
Friday, April 18 @ New Britain 6:35 p.m.
Saturday, April 19 @ New Britain 6:35 p.m.
Sunday, April 20 Off Day
Monday, April 21 @ Binghamton 6:35 p.m.
Tuesday, April 22 @ Binghamton 6:35 p.m.
Wednesday, April 23 @ Binghamton 6:35 p.m.
Thursday, April 24 @ Binghamton 6:35 p.m.
Friday, April 25 vs. Trenton 6 p.m.

Tickets for April 25 and all 2014 Sea Dogs home games are available and can be ordered by calling the Sea Dogs ticket office at 879-9500 or order online at www.seadogs.com.

Sea Dogs games can be heard on WPEI 95.5/ 95.9 FM Portland, WEZR 1240 AM/105.5
FM Lewiston/Auburn, WKTQ 1450 AM South Paris and WTME 780 AM Rumford. Coverage
begins 20 minutes prior to the first pitch with the pre-game show.

The postponement Wednesday was the Sea Dogs' second at Hadlock Field this season.  The game on Tuesday, April 15 against Binghamton was also postponed, due to rain, and will be made-up as a single-admission doubleheader on Wednesday, May 21 at 5 p.m. Wednesday's postponement was due to unplayable field conditions.

The talented and informative Mike Antonellis, the play-by-play announcer, returns to Portland for his 10th season, (18th season overall) in Minor League Baseball. Honored as the 2009 Eastern League Broadcaster of the Year, the Ashland, Massachusetts native also serves as the host of the Saturday Morning Jab on Big Jab Radio (96.3 FM and 1440 AM).

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 April 2014 02:33

Hits: 144

Sea Dogs home opener Thursday evening

The Portland Sea Dogs (AA affiliate of the world champion Boston Red Sox) kick off their 2014 home schedule Thursday at 6 p.m. at Hadlock Field against the New Britain Rock Cats, affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. The series will continue with three additional games against New Britain on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.4-10-14-sea-dogs-file-2

The seven-game opening home stand will end with three games against the Binghamton Mets on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Tickets for Opening Day and all 2014 Sea Dogs home games are available and can be ordered by calling the Sea Dogs ticket office at 879-9500 or order online at www.seadogs.com.
After the home stand the Sea Dogs hit the road for a three-game set with New Britain and then four games at Binghamton before returning home on Friday, April 25.

The Sea Dogs roster is highlighted by three of the Red Sox Top 10 prospects as ranked by Baseball America; starting pitcher Henry Owens (No. 2), catcher Blake Swihart (No. 5) and second baseman Markus (Mookie) Betts (No. 7). Other highly rated prospects include shortstop Deven Marrero (No. 15), first baseman Travis Shaw (No. 26), and third baseman Sean Coyle (No. 30).

After five games, Betts (age 21) was leading the team with a .474 batting average including a home run and the team's only stolen base. The 5-foot, 9-inch, 156-pound righty hit .314 and stole 38 bases last year in Class A and was selected as Boston's minor league offensive player of the year.

The Sea Dogs, in their 21st season, lay claim to 40 players, three managers, and two coaches who were on the opening day 25-man roster or staff of 15 different Major League teams.

Here is the Sea Dogs schedule for their opening home stand.
Thursday, April 10 vs. New Britain 6 p.m.
Friday, April 11 vs. New Britain 6 p.m.
Saturday, April 12 vs. New Britain 1 p.m.
Sunday, April 13 vs. New Britain 1 p.m.
Monday, April 14 vs. Binghamton 6 p.m.
Tuesday, April 15 vs. Binghamton 6 p.m.
Wednesday, April 16 vs. Binghamton 6 p.m.

Sea Dogs games can be heard on WPEI 95.5/ 95.9 FM Portland, WEZR 1240 AM/105.5 FM Lewiston/Auburn, WKTQ 1450 AM South Paris and WTME 780 AM Rumford. Coverage begins 20 minutes prior to the first pitch with the pre-game show.

The talented and informative Mike Antonellis, the play-by-play announcer, returns to Portland for his 10th season (18th season overall) in Minor League Baseball. Honored as the 2009 Eastern League Broadcaster of the Year, the Ashland, Massachusetts native also serves as the host of the Saturday Morning Jab on Big Jab Radio (96.3 FM and 1440 AM).

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 April 2014 02:05

Hits: 265

No. 1 UConn women off to Final Four

The No. 1 ranked University of Connecticut women's basketball team (38-0), seeking to repeat its 2013 national title, will play a semi-final game against #2 Stanford (34-3) on Sunday at 8:30 PM at Bridgestone Arena (capacity 20,000) in Nashville, Tenn.4-4-14-spts-KL-UConn

Stanford will have their hands full with Husky "twin towers" senior center Stephanie Dolson (6-foot, 5-inch conference defensive player of the year and AP second Team All-American selection) and sophomore forward Breanna Stewart (6-foot, 4-inch unanimous AP First Team All-American selection).

Stanford is led by Chiney Ogwumike a 6-foot, 3-inch senior and unanimous AP First Team All-American selection. Ogwumike was third in the country in scoring this year (26.6 points per game) and fourth in field-goal percentage (60.8 percent).

UConn, New England's only representative in this year's Division 1 women's NCAA basketball tournament, is seeking its ninth national championship since 1995. If Notre Dame (37-0), the other remaining No. 1 seed, defeats No. 4 Maryland (28-6) earlier on Sunday evening, the undefeated Huskies and Fighting Irish will meet at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

Last Updated on Friday, 04 April 2014 03:22

Hits: 294

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