Celtics

Spikes looks to improve upon 'worst game' vs. Ravens

913357.jpg

Spikes looks to improve upon 'worst game' vs. Ravens

FOXBORO - Brandon Spikes tried to own up to his self-proclaimed poor performance against the Ravens in Week 3.

But it was hard to speak over his fellow linebacker Jerod Mayo, who was doing his best to get Spikes to crack on camera.

"Honestly, me personally, I felt like I had played my worst game of the season, and I definitely want to come out-"

"True!" Mayo yelled from his locker, as the corner of the room erupted in laughter, Spikes included.

"-I definitely want to come out and do a lot better than I did in Week 3," Spikes finished saying.

The light moment was a representation of the overall feel of New England's locker room on Thursday. There was a kind of easiness to it, a comfortableness that you might not expect from a team on the verge of either going to the Super Bowl, or going home.

Deion Branch joked with Aaron Hernandez. Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty were getting into it as usual with teammates who walked by their lockers over on the secondary's side of the room.

And it appeared that just about every player left the facility with a brand new pair of Beats by Dre headphones and portable speakers.

Must be nice.

"Last year really don't matter," Spikes said. "It's a whole new year, whole new team, different chemistry and stuff like that. We just want to come out and play to our strengths. Whatever the Ravens have, I'm pretty sure we'll be prepared all the way around."

That type of confidence - not cockiness - seems to ooze out of the Patriots this week as they look to return to the Super Bowl for the sixth time since 2002.

"Honestly I feel like we're a whole different defense than Week 3," Spikes said.

But that certainly isn't to say that Spikes and the Patriots aren't taking Baltimore seriously. Like anybody else who's watched the Ravens over the last two weeks, and really, throughout many games over the regular season, Spikes sees what they're doing well on offense.

"From just watching film they look pretty good," he said. "They definitely demand the physical presence up front, and I just think that they get off on that front five. If they're firing off the ball and Ray Rice is doing what he does, we'll have a big problem if we don't come out do our job just all the way around the board, everybody has got to be hitting on all cylinders."

With the Ravens' deep ball on display against the Broncos, it appears as though Ray Rice, the team's biggest offensive threat, has gone through the radar somewhat. Spikes is the team's best run stuffer, and will play a big role in limiting Rice, who ranks second in the NFL this postseason in rush yards at 199.

"I think he's just an all-around player," Spikes said of Rice. "He can catch it in the backfield, make plays - explosive plays - and we got to do whatever we can to contain a guy like that. And I have the utmost respect for a guy like that. He's been in the league doing it, playing at a high level, very productive, and we got to just key him and try to do what we can to contain him."

Rice rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown, and caught five balls for 49 yards in Week 3. Spikes had just four tackles on the day.

"I just don't think I wasn't prepared and I just made mistakes that I normally don't make, and stuff like that," he said of his Week 3 performance. "I watched the game, and it wasn't the Brandon Spikes that I know. I definitely want to come out and capitalize off of a game like that and do whatever I can and get whatever edge I can get to try to better myself."

WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

stream-celtics-heat.jpg

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?

usatsi_10375870.jpg

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