Celtics

The Saints' penalty needs to exceed New England's

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The Saints' penalty needs to exceed New England's

The sideline videotaping the Patriots were apprehended for in 2007 was stupid and deceitful and arrogant.

The pay-for-prey operation the Saints were found guilty of Friday is stupid and deceitful and arrogant and dangerous.

The Patriots betrayed the integrity of the game. The Saints betrayed the sanctity of the NFL's brotherhood.

I don't feel like debating which deed was "worse." But I do believe the Saints deserve harsher punishment than New England received.

The reason? The whole dog-and-pony show the league went through at the owner's meetings in March of 2008 in the wake of Spygate has been treated by the Saints like a farce.

The Patriots peed on a memo from the league? The Saints peed on a code of moral conduct the league hatched after Spygate.

You remember that at those meetings, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft both stood up in front of the league's 31 teams and asked forgiveness.

That act was applauded because, by then, the Patriots had been hammered and re-hammered for in the court of public opinion and been fined significantly.

"I'm happy they did it," Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said at the time. "I don't know they had to do it. But it was good to hear from them. We're all trying to move on from this thing. What was said will stay in the room, but it was good."

"From a working stiff's point of view, (Robert Kraft) certainly doesn't need to apologize for anything. The New England Patriots have been a bellweather for this league as long as the Kraft family has owned them. As far as being good citizens of the NFL, they're at the top.''

Also during those meetings which were long on efforts to ensure integrity all 32 owners agreed to a policy proposed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell entitled "Integrity of the Game and Fair Competition."

The policy requires all club owners, executives and head coaches to certify annually that they have complied with league rules and policies and have reported any violations they know.

That was in early April 2008. Meanwhile, you have a defensive coordinator running a hit operation on NFL employees months later.

Again, both infractions are beyond stupid. But when it comes to meting out penalties, the fact that the entire league was on notice and had agreed in writing to be good citizens while this was going on should be a greater affront to the NFL Commissioner's office and the 31 other teams than a lackey with a videocam.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Heat in Miami. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview: Will Celtics be drained by emotional comeback win Monday in Dallas?

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

[SHOP: Gear up, Celtics fans!]

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Celtics-Heat preview: Will Celts be drained by emotional win in Dallas?

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Celtics-Heat preview: Will Celts be drained by emotional win in Dallas?

The Boston Celtics remain a team whose collective talents are far more valuable than their individual abilities.

But there are going to be nights when someone has to shoulder a larger burden of the team in order to win. More often than not, that “one” will likely be No. 11, Kyrie Irving. 

We saw in Dallas what can happen when Irving feels he has little choice but to put the team on his back and carry them to victory. 

The Celtics were desperate for a spark against the Mavericks and found it in Irving, who scored 47 points in leading the Celtics to a come-from-behind 110-102 overtime win. 

It remains to be seen if the Celtics will require a similar Herculean effort tonight when they take the Miami Heat with a chance to extend their winning streak to 17 straight. 

This team isn’t one to dwell on success in the past, even if the past was just 24 hours ago. But there’s no getting around how what happened on Monday night might impact what we see against the Heat. 

Boston expended a tremendous amount of energy in rallying from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter at Dallas, the kind of effort that may be difficult to replicate against a Miami team that you can count on to play hard from the opening tip to the final horn. 

Irving’s performance was one of the rare instances this season when Boston clearly could not have won without their top scorer having a big game. 

“When we needed it most, he made big shot after big shot,” said Al Horford. “He had such good rhythm, I was thinking, ‘just let him keep it going.’ He just kept being aggressive, taking really good shots. He recognized he needed to be extra aggressive, especially at the end and score the ball for us.”

Scoring could potentially be at a premium against Miami which allows 102.5 points per game which ranks ninth in the league in fewest points allowed. Also, the Heat will test Boston’s perimeter defenders. Miami comes into tonight’s game averaging 11.1 made 3-pointers per game which ranks ninth in the NBA. 

The Heat are led by Goran Dragic who is averaging team highs in scoring (18.3 points) and assists (4.7) this season. 

These two squared off earlier this season in Miami with the Celtics coming away with a 96-90 win as Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum led the way with 24 and 20 points, respectively. In that game, the Heat were without starting center Hassan Whiteside, who will be in the lineup tonight as the Heat try to bounce back after losing three of its last four games.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE