Bruins

Celtics get defensive

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Celtics get defensive

Earlier this season, the Celtics held 29 straight opponents under 100 points. This was the longest streak in the NBA in more than five years, and the longest shot clock era streak in franchise history.

Currently, thanks to yesterday's big win over Miami, the Celtics have held nine straight opponents under the 100-point mark, which ties them with Philly for the long active streak in the league.

So, what I'm trying to say is: These Celtics can play defense.

That shouldn't come as any big surprise, since Kevin Garnett's Celtics were always known for their defense. They were synonymous with defense. But for some reason, over the last year or so, that reputation as one of the league's preeminent defensive teams has started to fade. Perhaps that's because the Celtics haven't been as efficient offensively (we much prefer to obsess over what's wrong than appreciate what's right). Maybe it's because they haven't won a title in four years. Maybe it's because Tom Thibodeau took some of that defensive identity to Chicago. Maybe it's because we all just ran out of things to say. How many different ways can you say it?

Anyway, here's just a little reminder: The Celtics can still play D!

So far this season, they're holding opponents to 89.8 points a game, which ranks third in the NBA behind Philadelphia and Chicago. But even more interesting than that?

At their current pace, the Celtics will registered their lowest opponent points per game average since 1954.

Of course, that's a little skewed, because thanks to leftover rustiness from the lockout the league scoring average is down. For instance, in 2008, the Celtics held opponents to 90.3 points a game, but the league was averaging 99.9 points a night. This year, scoring's down to 96, so holding an opponent under 90 isn't quite what it used to be.

Still, records are records and this defense is on its way to setting themselves a nice one.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Morning Skate: You lose. Grab your shovel, rookie

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Morning Skate: You lose. Grab your shovel, rookie

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while enjoying the most wonderful season of the year.

*Here’s a fun moment with David Backes and Charlie McAvoy as the B’s rookie D-man had to clean out the dog poop in Backes’ backyard to pay off a bet after BU took a beating.

*JT  Brown is done raising his fist to raise awareness for social injustice and is going to get even more involved in the community than he already is in Tampa.

*Riggins talks about his hockey memories from playing in the celebrity game at the NHL All-Star game while promoting a new movie.

*The experienced, still-dangerous Henrik Zetterberg isn’t slowing down for the Detroit Red Wings, according to the Hockey News.

*A former chef for the Bruins is one of the finalists for the Ultimate Men’s Health Guy in Men’s Health Magazine.

*Connor Hellebuyck may be able to buy some time for the Winnipeg Jets, but they have a serious between-the-pipes problem.

*For s

Patriots-Falcons practice report: Gilmore (concussion/ankle) still out with Falcons, Jones on deck

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Patriots-Falcons practice report: Gilmore (concussion/ankle) still out with Falcons, Jones on deck

FOXBORO -- The Patriots are looking thin in the secondary as they head into their third and final day of practice before Sunday's matchup with the Falcons. 

Both Stephon Gilmore (concussion/ankle) and Eric Rowe (groin) sat out the session, as did linebacker Elandon Roberts (ankle). Undrafted rookie defensive end Harvey Langi was also a non-participant as he recovers from injuries sustained in a car crash last week. 

Asked if Friday's practice was a possibility, Gilmore said, "We'll see." He did not give any indications that his symptoms had improved or that he had been cleared for practice as he works through the league's concussion protocol. 

Rowe was spotted in the locker room on Thursday, but he has not practiced since aggravating his groin injury in Week 4. He was injured initially during a Week 2 win over the Saints. 

Roberts suffered an ankle injury when teammate Alan Branch landed on his lower leg during a loss to the Panthers in Week 4. However, he was healthy enough to play in Weeks 5 and 6. It's unclear as to whether or not his current ailment is related to what knocked him from that Week 4 loss to Carolina. 

Here is Thursday's practice participation/injury report for Sunday's game between the Patriots and Falcons:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
CB Stephon Gilmore (concussion/ankle)
LB Harvey Langi (back)
LB Elandon Roberts (ankle)
CB Eric Rowe (groin)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
RB Rex Burkhead (ribs)
WR Chris Hogan (ribs)
G Shaq Mason (shoulder)

ATLANTA FALCONS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
LB Jordan Tripp

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
OLB Vic Beasley Jr. (hamstring)
K Matt Bryant (back)
LB Jermaine Grace (hamstring)
LB Deion Jones (quadricep)
DE Takk McKinley (shoulder)
LB Duke Riley (knee)
WR Mohamed Sanu (hamstring)
DL Courtney Upshaw (ankle/knee)