Celtics

No Huddle: Patriots-Broncos postgame sound

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No Huddle: Patriots-Broncos postgame sound

FOXBORO -- Do you realize it took New England five weeks to get over .500?
Well, it did, and it happened at the expense of Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
Tale of the tape from this 31-21 win is yet another balanced offensive effort by the Patriots offense coupled with complimentary support from the 'D.'
You can imagine who the happy and not-so-happy parties were in the postgame.
Quarterback Tom Brady on the team's second consecutive game with 200-plus rushing yards:"Were getting a lot of nickel defense. When they put little guys out there, we have to take advantage of it. I think were playing definitely a more physical style and controlling the tempo of the game by running the football. We have to keep doing it. Its only been five games; we still have a lot of football games left. We have to be at our best."
The Patriots ran for 251 yards against Denver on Sunday and for 247 yards last week in Buffalo. Stevan Ridley did heavy damage against the Bills (106 yards on 22 carries), but outdid himself this time -- a career-high 151 rushing yards on 28 carries. That's 5.4 average yards per carry. The total effort is his third 100-plus yard game out of five played this season.
Brady said something about "little guys" last week as well. One has to wonder if future opponents are listening.
Ridley onif Denver was looking to strip the ball more aggressively toward the end of the game:
Absolutely. It was late in the game, youve got to close it out, youve got to run the football and I told myself before the play that I had to hold on to the football. Like I said, theyre getting paid to play, too. You cant make any excuses, I messed up. Im sure coach is going to have something to say about it, but like I said theres always another day tomorrow. So Ill be back to work and working ball security high and tight. And thats all I can do.
There will certainly be another day, Ridley just has to hope there isn't another fumble. His football sin came with less than six minutes to play in the game. New England's lead had just been cut to 31-21 after a Broncos touchdown. On his third carry of a three play drive, Ridley was fighting for more yards after Von Miller made contact. He spun, started to fall backward, and the ball squirted out of his grasp.
Rookie Brandon Bolden got the rest of the running back snaps after that.
Receiver Wes Welker on the timing he and Brady have, including the play where a ball came right at Welker's face (but was caught):"Its very important. That one was a little bit too close for comfort, but I knew the ball was coming quick and I knew I had to press it a little deeper than I wanted to, but I knew it was coming quick and I was ready for it and luckily able to make the play."
Welker finished with 13 catches on 15 targets for 104 yards and a touchdown. This week is the third straight for the receiver to haul in 100-plus yards.
Remember all that "phase out" talk that dominated the first two weeks of the season? Go ahead and pretend you don't. Brandon Lloyd may have been leading all receivers in targets early, but Welker is now back at the top with 52 to Lloyd's 43.
Head coach Bill Belichick, given his respect for NFL history, on what comes to mind when seeing Peyton Manning and Brady mind in the bigger picture?"Two great players, obviously. Two great, great players. Theyre both great. Theres nobody Id rather have than Tom Brady, but Manning is a great player."
Manning actually had the better night, according to the box score. The Broncos quarterback went 31-for-44 for 345 yards and three touchdowns (116.2 rating). Brady finished 23-for-31 for 223 yards and one passing touchdown (104.6 rating).
But as you'll see below, those numbers don't matter....
Broncos center Dan Koppen on coming back to Foxboro:
"We lost and all that matters is wins and losses. It was different, but in the end it was just a game. We lost. They ran their offense and they did it well."
Which is why Brady probably won't care about losing the passer battle to Manning.
Anyway. Dan Koppen was a Patriots draft pick out of Boston College in 2003. He played nine seasons in New England before being released in August. Yes, players come and go all over the NFL all the time, but you don't often see such long-tenured guys go elsewhere and then play his former team in his former home stadium less than two months later.
Koppen did well to stiff-arm any drama in the post game.
Head coach John Fox on if he feels his team was more competitive compared to the last time Denver played in New England:"Well, I think if you go by score, I think that is a fair assessment. But you know, still, being on the short end, you dont come in trying to cover or any of those types of things; you just try to win."
More on that whole "wins and losses" thing. Interesting to me, one reporter acknowledged the pointlessness of that other "moral victories" thing before asking Fox if there's any good to come from Denver's three close losses out of five games.
The coach responded with, "You know, it just is what it is." Classic.
Broncos free safety Rahim Moore on trying to cover Wes Welker:
"He is a bad dude."
Okay, there's more to the quote. I just thought Moore's response was funny and so singled it out. Here's the rest:
"They made good plays and we made our plays. We have to get better as a team and start off faster and once we do that we will be fine. As defensive players we have to play better because, if they don't score, they don't win."
He's not wrong. Denver's defense is No. 14 in the league for points surrendered per game at 22.8. But there's an outlier: a measly 6-point output by Oakland in Week 4. Take out that game and the Broncos 'D' allows 27 points on average.
Nose tackle Vince Wilfork on the Patriots defense forcing several turnovers in recent weeks:"We practice very hard at that: we practice ball drills, interception drills, fumble drills. We put a lot of time and work into it, into going out and being able to force turnovers, getting our offense the ball back. We know as a defense, if we can continue to give our offense the ball, theyre going to move the ball and theyre going to give us some points.
"At the end of the day, thats what its all about: scoring points and stopping guys from scoring points. I think we have a pretty good defense and I think we have a hell of a good offense. If we can continue to play together, this football team will be special."
The Patriots currently lead the AFC, and are second in the NFL, in giveawaytakeaway differential at plus-8. Their 11 takeaways (six interceptions and five fumbles) also lead the conference.
If the offense keeps scoring at a good clip, the defense should be okay. New England is a little better than middle of the pack for total points surrendered (113) and is crushing the competition for points scored (388).
Not that "bend don't break" is an ideal philosophy. Right?
Anybody? Bueller?

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.”