Celtics

Brady: It was just a sloppy game by us

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Brady: It was just a sloppy game by us

There are all kinds of words that could describe New England's 41-34 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night: wild, unpredictable, exciting. But Tom Brady chose another word when he joined WEEI's Dennis and Callahan Show Monday morning.

"It was a sloppy game by us," Brady said. "It was a sloppy game by both teams, in some respects. It was just, they weren't quite as sloppy as we were."

The Patriots are usually anything but sloppy. They led the league in turnover differential headed into last night's game at plus-24. Led by Brady, they took care of the ball as well or better than any team in the NFL.

But in the middle of a rainstorm, Brady threw two interceptions and the Patriots lost two fumbles (one lost by running back Stevan Ridley, the other by Shane Vereen) to help San Francisco head home with a win.

San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick threw a pick and the Niners offense fumbled six times, but the Patriots recovered just one.

"It was sloppy on both ends," Brady added. "I think they fumbled three or four times and got them all back. We fumbled and didn't get them back. The interceptions, those were costly mistakes. Sometimes you get them, sometimes you don't. I think the important thing is when you're playing in weather conditions like that, we've got to be more cognizant of taking care of the football. It's always our No. 1 goal every week. We talk about all the things we need to do to win the game, and we just don't do them. I'm sure that's what we're going to talk about today."

Despite New England's mistakes, and despite the fact that the Patriots got down 31-3 in the third quarter, Brady said he never gave up hope that his team still could win the game.

"When we were down 31-3 that was my thought," Brady noted. "I didn't think anything different. I thought we were going to come back and win the game. A lot of our problems on offense were self-inflicted."

"When you dig yourself a hole, you've got to dig yourself out of it," Brady continued. "We almost did, we just didn't do quite enough. There's really no mystery to not scoring points or scoring points for us as an offense. It's not like there's different plays we're calling. We're just doing a better job with the ones that are called when we're scoring points. I would say I'm really proud of the fact that our guys never blinked an eye down 28 points to probably the best defense in the league. We had confidence the whole way and we fought back to get to an even score and we just couldn't get over the hump."

And so they're left with a loss and decidedly bitter taste in their mouths.

"You can't play, whatever, 25 minutes of good football against a good team," he said. "You can't do it."

Here are a few more highlights from Brady's interview:

On playoff seeding
"We don't get too far beyond the next week's opponent. We haven't thought about bye, playoffs -- that's not really in our thought. It was about playing a very good team on Sunday Night Football and the things we needed to do to get that done. Now it's Jacksonville. Our season is not over by any means. We lost to a good team playing very average football. We're whatever, 10-4, and it's certainly not a great record. But it's where we deserve to be. We've got to be able to move on with mental toughness this week and put this loss behind us and go down to Jacksonville and try to win a football game."

On his busy night -- 65 pass attempts
"That's a lot of throws. I don't think that's what we were anticipating, especially in a rainstorm. That's not the kind of game you want to play. But that's the game we ended up playing. We kind of forced ourselves into that by being down 28 points. It just wasn't very good."

On Michael Hoomanawanui's 41-yard catch that helped spark the comeback
"That wasn't the way we drew it up in practice, I'll tell you that. Some of the plays got strung out a little longer than we anticipated yesterday. He did a great job running, making the catch, almost getting to the end zone. That was a big play in the game. There was a lot of excitement on our sideline, being able to find our way back and find our way after being down as many points as we were. It's just equally as frustrating when you go to the locker room after the game and you're not able to pull it out."

On Patriots running backs and their playing time
"That's not my decision to decide who plays. I have a lot of confidence in all those backs, whether it's Shane Vereen or Stevan or Brandon Bolden or Woody Danny Woodhead. They're all very good backs, they've done great things for us over the course of the season, and we're going to need all of them. We all have bad plays in a game. We all have plays that contribute to us winning and losing games. That's part of team football. I think the great part about our team is nobody points fingers. Everyone evaluates what they need to do better. There's not one player that's responsible for this. It's all of us as players that have to do a better job."

WATCH: Celtics vs. Mavericks

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Mavericks

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Mavericks in Dallas. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

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Celtics-Mavericks preview: C's need to play Smart vs. Dallas

Celtics-Mavericks preview: C's need to play Smart vs. Dallas

Get it done. No excuses.
 
That has been how the Boston Celtics have played most of this season.
 
And if there’s one Celtics player who embodies that on this team, it’s Marcus Smart.
 
The fourth-year guard has struggled all season with his shot-making, but when the game is on the line in the fourth quarter you can count on Smart to be on the floor.

THE WINNING STREAK

He has been among the many reasons Boston has won 15 in a row, which is the fifth-longest winning streak in franchise history.
 
And Smart will be among the Celtics looking to keep it going tonight against the Dallas Mavericks.
 
Most likely, Smart will make an impact with his defense, which is among the best in the NBA.

How good?
 
Smart has a defensive rating of 93.4 (points allowed per 100 possessions) which is tops among all guards in the NBA, and ranks third among all players who have played in at least 10 games this season.
 
But in the 110-99 win over the Hawks, Smart knocked down a couple of 3-pointers which was a big deal considering how mightily he has struggled shooting the ball this season.
 
Smart is shooting 27.3 percent from the field as well as from 3-point range – both career lows.
 
However, he’s also averaging career highs in assists (4.5) and rebounds (5.1) this season.
 
And while he certainly doesn’t appear to be affected by the shooting struggles, he acknowledges that it is something that he can’t help but think about from time to time.
 
“It does affect you, especially if you’ve been working (on shooting) all summer,” Smart said. “At the same time, I don’t take as many shots. But like I said, we got other guys who are playing well. My job is to get them the ball and do whatever I can, go back down the floor, play defense and get the ball again.”

In Boston’s win over Atlanta, Smart spent a good amount of time defending Marco Belinelli who had four points on 2-for-10 shooting compared to 19 points on 6-for-10 shooting when these two teams met earlier this month.
 
Coach Brad Stevens pointed to the job Smart did on Belinelli, in addition to the clutch offensive rebound he was able to snag and quickly put back up and in that gave Boston a 103-95 game with about two minutes to play.
 
“He was really good,” Stevens said.
 
The same could be said for most of the Celtics of late.
 
Kyrie Irving is coming off his most efficient game of the season, tallying 30 points on 10-for-12 shooting from the field. Jayson Tatum had a rough start, but he came on strong as well with 14 points – all coming in the second half.
 
But the backbone of Boston’s success lies in what they’re able to get done defensively.
 
So far, Boston’s defense has been as strong as we’ve seen this early, in quite some time.
 
Boston, which has a league-best defensive rating of 95.9, has length, savvy and an overall total buy-in by the players on what Brad Stevens is looking for, from them.
 
Meanwhile, the Mavericks (3-14) are coming off their most impressive victory this season, a 111-79 win over Milwaukee.  Dennis Smith Jr. has been among the more talented rookies this season. He’s averaging 14.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. Dallas is indeed in a transition period where longtime superstar Dirk Nowitzki (10.3 points, 5.5 rebounds per game) is gradually passing the torch to his younger teammates like Harrison Barnes (18.7 points, 7.1 rebounds) and Smith Jr.
 
Much like the Hawks game, the Celtics must approach this game with a focus on the opponent and not their record.
 
Because the Celtics are no longer just a good team on the schedule. They are a measuring stick for most to see how they stack up against the league’s best.
 
And the Celtics understand how their success has changed how teams see them.
 
“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.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE