Celtics

Patricia: Wilfork helps us win every week

960781.jpg

Patricia: Wilfork helps us win every week

FOXBORO -- Vince Wilfork owns some impressive accolades:
 Four-time Pro Bowler
 Four-time Second-team All-Pro
 Named in the NFL's Top 100 Players of 2011
 Named in the NFL's Top 100 Players of 2012
But there's so much the Patriots nose tackle does that doesn't win awards. Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia was asked Tuesday how Wilfork's contributions can be appropriately quantified. 
If it's even possible. 
"I think its really difficult to say," Patricia admitted. "Obviously, the biggest stat were concerned with is winning. I think you can definitely say that Vince helps us win every week. That's really what were trying to do and thats what were trying to work for as a defense: to get better. And thats the stat were looking for. So its hard; like you said, theres no real stat for it. Were just trying to win and do what we can to win. I think obviously for us hes just a key component."
Wilfork was, per usual, at the center of New England's most recent defensive effort. The Patriots were staring down the barrel of Houston -- the AFC's No. 1 team, an offense that was averaging over 29 points per game and converting almost 40-percent of third downs. 
The Texans were shut out for the first two quarters of the game. They finished with just 14 points, converting only 4 of 14 third-down opportunities. Just 2 of 13 drives reached the red zone.   
"You really have to give credit to those guys up front," said Patricia. "They did a heck of a job playing really good fundamental, disciplined football. Vince, obviously, leads the charge and is really just a tremendous player for us in the front. He obviously commands a lot of attention from the opponent, which in other cases can help free up teammates."
One of the many things Wilfork does that doesn't show up in the box score. 
"Its something we talked about earlier in the year kind of those unsung plays that present themselves where he's obviously just such a force in there. He gets those plays once in a while where he is singled up or he has a chance, the opportunity, to make a big play, which he did quite a bit last night."

Moving to power forward 'presents a different challenge' for Horford

celtics_al_horford_101617.jpg

Moving to power forward 'presents a different challenge' for Horford

PHILADELPHIA – For the third time in as many games, the Boston Celtics will field a different lineup.

It will have a domino effect on Boston’s usual starters, but no one more than Al Horford who will slide over to power forward with Aron Baynes inserted into the starting lineup where he’ll be charged with trying to defend Sixers 7-footer Joel Embiid.

Meanwhile, Horford will be assigned to defend Robert Covington who is one of Philadelphia’s better perimeter scorers.

MORE:

“I feel like one of my strengths is being able to play multiple positions,” Horford told NBC Sports Boston. “It presents a different challenge for me, which is making sure I do a good job of covering him out on the perimeter, staying between him and the basket.”

In Philadelphia’s 120-115 season-opening loss to Washington, Covington led all Sixers with 29 points which included him going 7-for-11 from 3-point range in addition to grabbing seven rebounds.

While Covington will be Horford’s first defensive assignment, he knows he will also be called upon at times to defend Embiid who ranks among the best centers in the NBA despite having played just 32 games over the course of three NBA seasons.

In the loss to the Wizards, Embiid had a double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Horford’s defense will be critical for Boston (0-2) to get its first win of the season, but the Celtics will also need him to take advantage of scoring opportunities as well.

“We have some guys down, but that creates opportunities for other guys to step up and contribute,” Horford said. “It’s going to all of us, the veterans, the young players, all of us to get that first win.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens agreed.

“I think that’s how we have to look at it,” Stevens said. “We’re going to have to make a few tweaks on how we do things, obviously. Hey, it’s gonna be something that we’re going to have to do really, really well on the fly.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE