Patriots

Celtics-Timberwolves review: What we saw

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Celtics-Timberwolves review: What we saw

MINNEAPOLIS Good defense leads to great offense. You hear it all the time, but rarely does it smack you in the face the way it did on Friday as the Celtics had little trouble in defeating Minnesota, 100-79.

Boston has had good stretches of defense all season, but Friday's win was arguably their best defensive showing from the opening tip-off to the final horn sounding.

"Our defense is who we are," said C's coach Doc Rivers.

While the C's defense wasn't flawless - they gave up four, 3-pointers in the second quarter - Rivers was pleased with the steady play most of the night.

In addition to limiting Minnesota to just 34.7 percent shooting, Boston also managed to break even - 45 to 45 - with the Timberwolves on the boards.

After the game, aside from the talk about Kevin Garnett getting the better of Kevin Love, most of the chatter was about the Celtics defense which in addition to helping Boston win, has also helped catapult them into the top spot in the Atlantic Division with Friday's win and Philadelphia's loss to Washington.

"They are a good defensive team and that is why they won the championship a few years ago," said Timberwolves guard Luke Ridenour. "You can tell they are very defensive minded and they play well together as a team."

Indeed, Boston's defense was a major factor in Friday's win for the Celtics. We'll review other keys highlighted prior to the game, and see how they played out as Boston extended its winning streak to four in a row.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR As much as rebounding is an issue for the Celtics, it won't do them much good if they do a good job on the boards and don't get out and take advantage of scoring opportunities in transition. The C's average 12.2 points per game in fast break points, which ranks 19th in the NBA. But in Minnesota, they're facing one of the most "fast-break friendly" teams in the NBA. Timberwolves opponents are averaging 16.2 fast-break points per game which ranks 29th in the NBA.

WHAT WE SAW: Boston did a nice job of taking advantage of most of their opportunities to score in transition. The C's had 15 fast-break points that came on 7-for-10 shooting.

MATCHUP TO WATCH - Kevin Garnett vs. Kevin Love: The face of franchise past meets the face of franchise present in this duel. The Love-for-league-MVP chatter might have seemed a pipe dream a couple weeks ago, but it isn't that big a stretch now. He's averaging 26.3 points and 13.9 rebounds, numbers the NBA hasn't seen since Moses Malone averaged 31.1 points and 14.7 rebounds during the 1981-1982 season which, by the way, ended with Malone being named league MVP. Garnett, who has delivered strong play for the C's at both ends of the floor all season, recently talked about finding added motivation in facing superstars of the future. "Playing against younger talent that's supposed to be prolific and supposed to be above-average but I'm old though, you know?" said Garnett, who was speaking about talented, young players in general and not specifically Kevin Love. "It don't take much to motivate me."

WHAT WE SAW: You have to score this one for the ghost of franchise past. Not only did Garnett have more points than Love (24 to 22), He also went about it in a much more efficient manner in addition to holding his own on the boards (Garnett had 10 rebounds to Love's 11). All the C's recognized that Garnett, who spent his first 12 NBA seasons in Minnesota, was a little more amped up on Friday night - which is kind of scary when you consider how fired up Garnett is for most games. "I think KG took it personal tonight," said Minnesota forward Anthony Tolliver. "I'm sure he's been hearing a lot of stuff that Love is the best power forward in the league and everything else. One night doesn't change it, but he's a competitor and we knew he was going to come in here and bring it straight to Kevin (Love). He (Garnett) looked like his old self tonight."

PLAYER TO WATCH: Rajon Rondo has been quietly putting together one of the greatest seasons by a Celtics playmaker ever. He comes into tonight's game with double-digit assists in 11 straight games, a franchise record. He had a nine-game stretch last year. To put his numbers in perspective, no Celtics player prior to Rondo had ever had more than seven straight double-digit assist games.

WHAT WE SAW: Rondo's string of double-digit assist games was kept alive by halftime, which is when he tallied 12 of his game-high 17. "We got a good rhythm," Rondo said. "It starts defensively. When we get stops like that it's been a good team effort as far as guys spreading the ball around, but it starts with defense."

STAT TO TRACK: Keeping the Timberwolves off the free throw line will be huge for the Celtics tonight. Minnesota averages 25.6 free throw attempts per game which ranks sixth in the league. And when you throw in the fact that they rank in the top 10 in free throw percentage (77.9 percent, ninth in the NBA), the C's can't bank on them missing too many.

WHAT WE SAW: The Celtics didn't do as good a job as they would have liked in keeping the Timberwolves off the free throw line, as Minnesota connected on 21 of its 25 free throws compared to the C's who were 8-for-11 from the line. But with the Celtics pulling ahead by double digits in the first quarter and maintaining that edge for most of the game, the Timberwolves' advantage at the line was never a factor in the game's outcome.

Indy columnist rips Colts for Josh McDaniels hire

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Indy columnist rips Colts for Josh McDaniels hire

Gregg Doyel hates Josh McDaniels. 

That's the only takeaway one can have after reading Doyel's latest column in the Indy Star, anyway. In it, Doyel writes that McDaniels, who is expected to be hired as Colts head coach, already got his chance to prove his chops as a head coach in Denver and showed he stinks. 

Writes Doyel: 

We get a clean slate just once, same as Josh McDaniels, and his came in 2009 when he was hired to coach the Denver Broncos. And in less than two years he spray-painted so much graffiti on there that the Broncos fired him for a variety of reasons, so take your pick: his abrasive personality, his horrific judgment of talent, his team’s penchant for losing games, or those broken NFL rules.

Here in Indianapolis, where Josh McDaniels is about to be entrusted with our city’s crown jewel – he’s expected to be the next head coach of the Indianapolis Colts – are we to pretend Denver didn’t happen?

Doyel also refers to a 2013 quote from former Broncos punter Mitch Berger, who compared playing for McDaniels to playing for an "equipment manager" and called him a "punk." Then there's this from Doyel, who likes where Berger's going with the "punk" talk: 

I still can’t believe this is happening. Can’t believe McDaniels will soon be hired by the Colts, and entrusted with Andrew Luck. Can’t believe he was the hottest commodity on the coaching market this fall. McDaniels is Lane Kiffin to me, an arrogant young punk who ascended rapidly after Daddy got him a cherry first job in coaching – McDaniels’ father, Ohio high school legend Thom McDaniels, was friends with Nick Saban, who hired Josh as a grad assistant at Michigan State in 1999 – and who kept getting promoted to the point of failure.

This isn't the first time Doyel has had a take critical of the Patriots, so maybe we shouldn't be surprised. But he for sure hates Josh McDaniels. 
 

Brady in a stew over Jags-just-another-tomato-can talk

Brady in a stew over Jags-just-another-tomato-can talk

Don’t let Tom Brady hear your nonsensical takes on the Jacksonville Jaguars. This “tomato can” is packed with all the essential elements to give the Pats QB fits.

“This is the biggest challenge we've faced all year,” Brady said Tuesday during his weekly interview with Kirk and Callahan on WEEI. “We've had a good offense. They've had the best defense. And that's always a challenge when you go up against those guys. When you watch them play over the course of the whole season, you can see why. There is not a lot of time for the quarterback to throw, and I think the whole secondary knows it. The linebackers know it. And they're aggressive. They take chances. They get a lot of turnovers. They got a really good scheme, and the quarterback is just under pressure all day. Unless you get opened very quickly, there’s a lot of sacks and sacks turns into long yardage and long yardage turns into punts . . . "

Brady spent hours on Monday pouring over film to familiarize himself with a Jags team that he last saw in the preseason.

“There’s a reason why they’re in this game,” he said. “They’re the best team we’ve faced all season and if we don’t play our best, we’re not going to advance.”

That’s why Brady won’t allow himself to be distracted by all that comes with advancing to this point, or even the lingering stench of that ESPN/Seth Wickersham article. Who’s got time for that when there is so much on the line?

“This is a long time we’ve committed to each other since we came back together in April,” he said. “April, May, all those months committed to training and walkthroughs and practices and games and injuries and the emotion -- I don’t think we’re going to let anything get in the way of this week. I think the coach -- Coach [Bill] Belichick -- he does so many great things. One thing is he sets the best tone for the players because he knows what it takes to compete at this level without -- there’s more hype surrounding the game, there’s more distractions, there’s more people, there’s more people covering the game, there’s more to talk about it but we’re focused on our job . . . The hype only gets bigger from here so we just gotta stay focused on what we need to do.”

The Jags have obviously done a good job on that front as well. There is no way they’d be at this point, on this stage, without not only talent but that singular focus. Of course with some youth comes some exuberance and Jalen Ramsey’s comments to about 10,000 fans Sunday night has been a topic of conversation on sports radio and television and even in the Patriots’ locker room.

Brady doesn’t believe that’s something that would ever come out of Foxboro, but he’s not publicly shaming Ramsey either.

“What i’ve learned over a long time is it’s how you play, it’s not what you say," Brady said. "Everyone has different ways of handling things. We do what works for us.”

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