Celtics

Pats must pack their poise Saturday

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Pats must pack their poise Saturday

FOXBORO -- By halftime last January 16th, Tom Brady had been sacked three times by the New York Jets, he'd thrown an inexplicable pick, Patrick Chung had called for a fake punt that failed and that gaffe led to a Jets touchdown with 33 seconds left in the first half. The 14-3 deficit at the break? Too much to overcome. The year before, the Baltimore Ravens allowed late-arriving traffic on Route 1 to U-turn and head home as they built a 24-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. In neither of those games could the Patriots' starts be called "poised."
So with the feature game of this weekend's playoff slate Saturday night, the Patriots are in a position once again where they must bring composure. Can they? Will they be able to the poise missing the last two playoff games? "Once that ball's kicked off, it's a game," said Tom Brady. "And it's the same game we've been playing all season. There's definitely a heightened sense of intensity because it's one game. There's no next week. It's a one-game season. Trying to control your emotions to a point where it doesn't interfere with your level of execution is important. But sometimes you can't control that. We'll see."That Brady candidly revealed his emotions are beyond control in big games is noteworthy. The fact they have gotten that way later in his career when, for the first 10 playoff games of his career (all wins), he was as cool as any quarterback had ever been in the cauldron of pressure. Urgency is important. But there's a line between urgency and desperation and for Brady, the desire to return to the summit -- especially after doing the Icarus thing back in 2007 -- seems almost desperate. "Every play is so important this time of year that you feel like you need to execute the best," said Brady. "When you play the best teams, the margin for error is less. They're gonna be playing well, they're gonna be ready to go. We have to match that. ...We got to go out there and try to play a good. Emotions will be running high, I'm sure the stadium will be very loud, playing on a Saturday night. It's special, man, it's the playoffs. That's why we work so hard to get to this point." Working somewhat in the Patriots' favor is the fact that a deficit is a common occurrence in 2011. Not just in the past two games where the Patriots were down 17-0 and 21-0 and still won, for a slew of games prior to that New England overcame opponents' leads. "Over the course of this whole year, this team has done a great job of keeping its poise," explained Vince Wilfork. "Through good times and bad times. I think we all kept a level head and it starts with the top first. It starts with Bill (Belichick). And Bill's probably one of the best at it. Don't get too high, don't get too low."We've seen the video of Bill O'Brien's meltdown at Washington when he butted into a Tom Brady-Tiquan Underwood discussion. But, Wilfork says, that's been an exception."Even when things went wrong and we lost, you never hear no fuss," Wilfork began. "Well, every now and then," he added. "But we coulda been arguing on the sideline and fussin' all the time a bunch but we didn't. Poise is everything and I think this team has a lot of it and that's what it's gonna take. We're going to have to be able to fight through some tough situtations, some tough calls some tough things you might not agree with or statements made at the time of the battle. Your job is to fight through those and perform well and I think for the most part we've done that."Playoff experience, Brady was asked. What's it mean?"It's a different team than played in '01, '03," Brady corrected. "How these teams are gonna attack us, we'll see. We'll see on Saturday night. ...I think that's why we're gonna show up and play. Nobody knows the answer to do those things. Experience is great when you win, then when you lose it means nothing."

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

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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.

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“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.”

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