Celtics

Game info: Patriots vs. 49ers

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Game info: Patriots vs. 49ers

GAME TIME: 8:20 p.m. EST

TV NETWORK: NBC

TV ANNOUNCERS: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya

RADIO NETWORK: Anchored by WBZ-FM (98.5 The Sports Hub)

RADIO ANNOUNCERS: Gil Santos and Scott Zolak

ALL-TIME SERIES BETWEEN THE TEAMS: 49ers lead, 7-4

LAST MEETING: Patriots 30, 49ers 21 at Candlestick Park on Oct. 5, 2008

This weeks game will be a battle between the team of the 2000s and the team of the 1990s. The Patriots 126 wins in the 2000s is the all-time best mark for a decade in NFL history. In the 1990s, the 49ers had 122 wins, which is the third-best record for a decade in NFL history.

The are 18-15 all-time on Sunday Night Football, including 9-9 under coach Bill Belichick. The Patriots are 11-5 in home Sunday Night Football games and 7-10 on the road.

The Patriots have won 13 consecutive regular-season December games, a streak that began with a win over the Panthers on Dec. 13, 2009, and is tied with the 1968-72 Cowboys for second-highest number of consecutive December wins. The Chargers hold the record, posting 18 consecutive regular-season wins in December from 2006-09. The Patriots also had 12 straight December wins from 2006-08.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR
With one touchdown pass against the 49ers, Tom Brady will extend his streak to 46 straight games with at least one touchdown pass and continue his third-longest streak all time, behind Drew Brees (54) and Johnny Unitas (47).

Brady has 52 career 300-yard games in the regular season. He needs one more to break a tie with Kurt Warner for fifth place all time.

Brady (3,833) needs 167 passing yards to reach 4,000 yards for the fifth time and join Dan Marino (6), Drew Brees (6), Brett Favre (6) and Peyton Manning (11) as the only players to have at least five seasons with 4,000 passing yards.

Stephen Gostkowski (7-of-10 from 50 or more yards) needs one more 50-yard field goal to tie Adam Vinatieri (8-of-17) for most 50-yard field goals in Patriots history. Gostkowski has two 50-yarders so far in 2012 and can become the first Patriots player with three 50-yard field goals in a single season.

Rob Ninkovich has a team-leading five forced fumbles, tying Mike Vrabel (2007) for the most forced fumbles for a Patriots player within the last 20 years.

Wes Welker (17) needs one more 10-plus catch game to break a tie with Jerry Rice for the most 10-catch games in NFL history.

Welker (95) needs 5 receptions to become the first playerin NFL history with five 100-catch seasons.

The Patriots defense has forced a turnover in 24 straight games, dating back to 2011 and including the first 13 games of 2012. The last NFL team to have at least one takeaway in all 16 regular season games was the 2010 Atlanta Falcons.

Marcus Smart upgrade to questionable for Game 5

Marcus Smart upgrade to questionable for Game 5

BOSTON –  Once considered a long shot to return by Game 7 of Boston’s first-round series with the Milwaukee Bucks, Marcus Smart may be on the floor as soon as Tuesday night's Game 5 matchup.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said there was no update on Smart following the team’s practice on Monday, but the team has since upgraded Smart's status to “questionable” for Game 5 – the first time he has been listed as anything other than “out” since he had his right thumb surgically repaired last month.

In the past couple of weeks, Smart has increased his workload and made it clear that he was inching closer to getting back on the floor possibly ahead of schedule. 

Prior to Boston’s Game 4 loss, Smart discussed his potential return. 

“I feel ready, I feel strong enough to get back out there,” Smart said at the time. “I’m just waiting for the OK.”

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It appears his most recent visit to the doctor went as planned with Smart now likely cleared to practice – and with that clearance, available to play. 

The return of Smart would be a huge plus for a Celtics team that has struggled mightily in this first-round series against Milwaukee from a defensive standpoint. 

During the regular season, Boston had a league-best defensive rating of 101.5. But against the Bucks, Boston’s defense has slipped to second-to-last among playoff teams which has heavily factored into the series now being tied at two games apiece. 

You can count Boston's Jaylen Brown among the Celtics eager to get Smart back into the fold. 

“When he gets in there he changes the whole game on defense,” Brown said. “He’s definitely missed so when he comes back that’ll make a lot of our jobs a whole lot easier.”

Stevens had similar sentiments about Smart. 

“Marcus is one of our most reliable players for the last four years,” Stevens said. “No question Marcus as been a huge part of us.”

Smart has appeared in 54 games for the Celtics this season, averaging 10.2 points, 4.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds while playing 29.9 minutes per game.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Jaylen Brown's crucial flub in Game 4 was actually officiating error

Jaylen Brown's crucial flub in Game 4 was actually officiating error

BOSTON -- The NBA’s two-minute report on Boston’s Game 4 loss at Milwaukee revealed a trio of incorrect non-calls in the closing moments of play, two of which went against the Celtics in their 104-102 loss. 

With Boston ahead 100-99 with less than a minute to play, Jaylen Brown lost the ball on a driving lay-up attempt. 

No call was made on the play, one that Brown thought he was fouled on. 

The two-minute report confirmed “that (Khris) Middleton makes contact to Brown's arm that affects his driving shot attempt.”

Had the call been made, Brown would have gone to the free throw line with 43.5 seconds to play with the Celtics already ahead by one point. 

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But on the ensuing Milwaukee possession following the non-call, Malcolm Brogdon drained a 3-pointer that put the Bucks ahead 102-100.

With 47.9 seconds to play, the two-minute report also indicated that an offensive foul should have been called against Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo. The two-minute report indicated that, “Antetokounmpo extends his arm and wards off (Semi) Ojeleye's arm, affecting his ability to contest the shot attempt.”

And with 1:14 to play, Antetokounmpo was fouled by Jayson Tatum although no call was made. On the play, the two-minute report says that, “Tatum clamps Antetokounmpo's arm and pushes him, affecting his (freedom of movement) and ability to receive the pass.

On the ensuing possession following the non-call, Tatum hit a jumper that put the Celtics ahead 100-99 with 52.4 seconds to play. 

Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been asked about officiating quite a bit in the last few days. And his response in each instance remains relatively the same.

"I'm not going to ever say anything bad about referees because they have a really tough job," Stevens said. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE