Celtics

ALCS MVP finds a new team

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ALCS MVP finds a new team

From Comcast SportsNetPHILADELPHIA (AP) -- In just a few months, Delmon Young went from MVP of the American League championship series to a guy hoping for an opportunity.Young got that chance Tuesday, signing a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies for 750,000.The 27-year-old outfielder batted .267 with 27 doubles, 18 homers and 74 RBIs for Detroit last season. He hit .313 with three homers and a team-high nine RBIs during 13 playoff games and was MVP against of the ALCS against the New York Yankees. The Tigers were swept by San Francisco in the World Series.Young made 6.75 million last year, but off-field issues cost him a lucrative, multiyear deal. He was suspended without pay for seven days by Major League Baseball after an incident outside a New York City hotel last spring. Young later pleaded guilty to aggravated harassment for shouting an anti-Semitic slur and tackling a man to the ground.The Phillies are counting on Young to stay out of trouble and provide balance in a lineup that's filled with left-handed hitters. The team has sought a right-handed corner outfielder with power throughout the offseason. He could fit into the lineup in the No. 5 spot behind Chase Utley and cleanup hitter Ryan Howard."Delmon is an experienced major league bat who will add some depth to our relatively inexperienced outfield and another layer of competition for playing time there as well," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement.Less than a month before the start of spring training, the Phillies were sure of just one starting outfielder. They acquired Ben Revere from Minnesota to be the regular center fielder. Amaro talked about possible platoons for the two other spots.Now he expects Young to be the regular right fielder, a position he hasn't played since 2007. Young revealed he had ankle surgery in November, so there's a chance he may have to start the season on the disabled list.Darin Ruf, who hit 38 homers at Double-A Reading last year, is competing for playing time in left field. Former top prospect Domonic Brown had been in the mix in right field. Laynce Nix and John Mayberry Jr. were mentioned in a leftright platoon.But if Young ends up starting every day, Ruf and Brown could platoon in left while Nix and Mayberry come off the bench.Young started 29 games in left field last season and primarily served as Detroit's designated hitter. He has 156 career starts in right field, including 127 for Tampa Bay in 2007.Outfield had been a strength for the Phillies during their string of five-straight NL East titles from 2007-11. They had five All-Star outfielders in that span, including Aaron Rowand, Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez, Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino. They also had slugger Pat Burrell, who never made an All-Star team but averaged 32 homers and 92 RBIs in 2007-08.Pence and Victorino were traded away last July 31, opening up two holes. Revere and Young could end up filling both spots at significantly less salary. Pence will earn 13.8 million with San Francisco this year. Victorino signed a 39 million, three-year deal with Boston.Young was Tampa Bay's first overall pick in the 2003 amateur draft. He has batted .284 with 89 homers and 482 RBIs with Tampa Bay (2006-07), Minnesota (2008-11) and Detroit.Young's best season was in 2010 with the Twins. He hit .298 with 21 homers and 112 RBIs and finished 10th in AL MVP voting.Young's deal includes performances bonuses.

Celtics-Hawks preview: C' defense looks to keep up historic pace

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Celtics-Hawks preview: C' defense looks to keep up historic pace

As the wins continue to pile up for the Boston Celtics, so does the praise and adulation from others throughout the league. 

It’s a double-edged sword if you think about it. 

Acknowledging how good the Celtics are, is indeed a sign of respect. 

But it also means Boston plays every game with a large target on its back unlike any of Brad Stevens’ previous Celtics teams. 

And that means every game they play, even those like tonight’s matchup at Atlanta where they will be heavily favored, are dangerous matchups.

Because for some teams, the next best thing to competing against the champ (Golden State) is facing the team with the best record who just knocked off the champ. 

That will be one of the dynamics at work tonight when the Celtics (14-2) kick off a three-game road trip against a trio of sub-.500 teams beginning with the Hawks (3-12).

Boston has shown tremendous focus and attention to detail during their 14-game winning streak. But in that span, the Celtics have never had a trio of teams right behind each other that struggled as much as the Hawks, the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks have this season. 

Not including games played on Friday, Boston’s next three opponents are a combined 11-33. 

All three of those teams would love to be the one to knock off the Celtics, the kind of victory that could significantly shift the direction of their respective franchises from their current downward spin. 

Meanwhile, the Celtics will look to continue to play with the kind of defensive temperament that has catapulted them to the top of the NBA’s defensive standings in several categories. 

“The way they’re beating teams it ain’t pretty,” a league executive texted NBC Sports Boston. “But they win. Last I checked, that’s what matters most.”

And that success has to a large degree, put a bigger bullseye on the Celtics than ever. 

“Now that we have a reputation, I think everyone is coming for us,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “Now we have to come play even harder, and I think we can do that. I think we are more than capable.”

Especially if they continue to defend at a level we haven’t seen in years. 

Boston has a league-best defensive rating of 95.4. A key component in Boston’s strong play defensively has been their ability to win the battle of the boards. They come into tonight’s game with a .530 rebounding percentage which is second in the league to Portland (.539).

And that defense, while praised for how it functions collectively, it also consists of some pretty good individual defenders as well. 

Among guards averaging at least 20 minutes per game, Boston has four players ranked among the top 10 in defensive rating (Marcus Smart, 93.5 defensive rating, 2nd); Jaylen Brown (93.6, 3rd); Terry Rozier (95.0, 5th) and Kyrie Irving (96.4, 8th). 

When you look at forwards, Brown headlines a trio of forwards that includes himself, Al Horford (94.2, 3rd) and Jayson Tatum (96.1, 7th). 

Aron Baynes has the best defensive rating (90.6) among centers, followed by Horford (94.2).

“Our guys are locked in and really trying and again we can really play some pretty ugly basketball at times,” Stevens said. “But I do think that we are competing which is really good.”