Celtics

Trades highlight wild first round of NFL draft

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Trades highlight wild first round of NFL draft

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Once the NFL draft got past quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, it was like a day on Wall Street -- everybody wanted to make a trade. The wheeling and dealing started even before the Indianapolis Colts opened the proceedings as expected Thursday by taking Luck with the first pick and the Washington Redskins followed by selecting the young man known as RG3. Behind closed doors, general managers around the league were jockeying to position their teams to land the most coveted player on their draft board. When it was over, there were eight trades involving 12 of the league's 32 teams. It all started when Minnesota swapped its No. 3 choice for Cleveland's No. 4 pick. The Browns, who also gave up a fourth, fifth and seventh-rounder, desperately wanted Alabama running back Trent Richardson. The Vikings still got the guy they sought in Southern California tackle Matt Kalil. "Unfortunately, we had to make a little trade to secure the pick," said Browns coach Pat Shurmur, who later added quarterback Brandon Weeden with the No. 22 selection. "We knew as we went through the process that he was our guy and so we did what we had to do to secure it. "We had pretty good knowledge that there were teams behind that wanted him as well, so we gave up a couple of picks to make sure we got him. We're thrilled a bunch about Trent." The move allowed the Vikings to deal for another first-round pick, gaining the No. 29 spot in a trade with Baltimore and choosing Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith. "That trade with Cleveland kind of set the tone for this draft, and us being able to do some things," Vikings GM Rick Spielman said. "That was a huge, huge thing to get done right before the draft started. The Jaguars, Cowboys and Eagles also traded up, and the Patriots did it twice to select players they wanted. Credit the rookie wage scale for so much buying and selling, with GMs making last-minute moves knowing that extravagant salaries for top picks have been replaced by a compensation plan. There were no such concerns for Indianapolis and Washington. Stanford's Luck heads for Indianapolis and the burden of replacing Peyton Manning, who won four MVP awards and a Super Bowl. Baylor's RGIII answers the call in Washington, where he will try to soothe a devout but highly critical fan base. "You don't really replace a guy like that," Luck said. "You can't. You just try to do the best you can. He was my hero growing up." His selection as the top pick was hardly a stunner. The Colts informed Luck last week that Commissioner Roger Goodell would announce his name first. "I realize you could go crazy trying to measure yourself to Peyton Manning every day. That would be an insane way to live," Luck said. "I know his legendary status, really. Huge shoes to try and fill if you're trying to do that. ... If one day I can be mentioned alongside Peyton as one of the football greats, that would be a football dream come true." To get Griffin, Washington had dealt a second-round pick this year and its first-rounders in 2013 and 14 to St. Louis to move up four spots. They wound up with the QB that beat Luck for the Heisman Trophy for college football's best player. RG3 sang the team's fight song during a conference call: "Hail to the Redskins! Hail vic-tor-y!" Griffin said. "That's how I felt. It felt that good." After Minnesota took Kalil, Jacksonville jumped up two spots to No. 5, trading with Florida neighbor Tampa Bay to get Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon, the top receiver in this crop.

Streak reveals depth even Celtics didn't know they had

Streak reveals depth even Celtics didn't know they had

Coaches in all sports will tell you that winning is not easy.
 
Making the Celtics’ 16-game winning streak even more impressive is that a number of the victories have involved Boston turning to some unlikely sources of production.

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And that has provided a glimpse into a franchise that’s getting the best of both worlds: quality play from its core group while developing reserves who have contributed to the team reeling off 16 straight wins in a variety of ways.
 
Because coach Brad Stevens has gone deeper into his bench this season than past years, it has created a roster with minutes more evenly distributed and with that, less wear and tear on the bodies of key players.
 
And while this team is led by Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, there has been at least one other Celtic to emerge as a top-three performer every night...and often it’s not the same player.
 
“Much more unpredictable now,” a league executive texted to NBC Sports Boston. “That number three guy, is it [Jaylen] Brown? [Jayson] Tatum? Sometimes it’s Marcus [Smart]. You don’t know who it’s going to be because a lot of times, I don’t think they [Celtics] know who it will be. It’s why they’re so good, man.”
 
Here are five under-the-radar storylines heading into tonight’s game in Miami with the Celtics trying to push their winning streak to 17:

KYRIE FOR MVP
It’s one thing for the home crowd to get into the ‘M-V-P’ chants when you’re at the free-throw line. But it’s a completely different matter when those same cheers are being heard on the road. That’s where Irving was following the 110-102 overtime win at Dallas, a game in which Irving dropped 47 points, 10 in overtime. It’ll be interesting to see if another strong game by Irving will lead to another serenading of ‘M-V-P’ chants for the most dominant player on the team with the league’s best record.


 
TURNING DOWN THE HEAT
The streak is the talk of the NBA right now, but streaking was going to be part of the conversation leading up to tonight’s game regardless. The Celtics come into tonight’s game having won eight in a row over the Heat, their longest current winning streak over any team. Boston has dominated this matchup for years, posting a 70-44 record all-time against Miami in the regular season.
 

DUKE CONNECTION
College basketball just kicked off and Duke is once again among the game’s top teams, a school that consistently produces NBA talent at a relatively high level. That’ll be very apparent tonight when you consider this Boston-Miami matchup features three players (Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum for Boston, Justise Winslow for Miami) from Duke who will all be in the starting lineup and a fourth (Boston’s Semi Ojeleye) who attended Duke but later transferred to SMU.


 
JUSTISE WINSLOW
Every front-office executive has that one player they tried – and failed – to acquire that, in hindsight, not getting him was a really good thing. Winslow is that guy for the Celtics. While he hasn’t been necessarily a bust, his impact at this level hasn’t been enough to have warranted all the assets Boston was willing to part with on draft night in order to move up and select him. Still, he’s healthy now and starting to play better which is evident by his numbers in most offensive categories on the rise, while his defense has been relatively solid.
 

THREE-POINTERS
The Heat have made the 3-point shot a much bigger part of their offense this season, evident by Miami ranking seventh in the league in 3-point makes (11.2) this season. In Boston, one of the keys to their top-ranked defense has been their length, which has come in real handy defending the 3-pointer. In fact, Boston has limited opponents to just 32.1 percent shooting on 3’s this season, which ranks third in the league.

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Gostkowski named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week

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Gostkowski named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week

FOXBORO -- Stephen Gostkowski is almost 34 years old, but in Mexico City he provided a reminder that he's not slowing down in his 12th NFL season. 

After going four-for-four on field goals -- including a team-record 62-yarder, a 51-yarder and a 40-yarder -- and making all three of his extra points, Gostkowski was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for the sixth time in his career. 

During a press conference on Wednesday, Bill Belichick explained that someone in Gostkowski's situation probably isn't improving at this point in his career. But if he's maintaining a strong level of play, that's OK. 

"I don’t know how much real improvement you’re going to see from a player that’s been in the league 12 or 20 years in a case like Adam [Vinatieri] or somebody like that," Belichick said. "But, if the level they’re performing at is pretty good, if they can maintain that, then that’s certainly enough to help the team.

"Are there things that a player can do better? Yeah, sure, there always are technique things. I think Steve has really improved in some of his alternative kicks on kickoffs, as an example, instead of just kicking every ball as far as he can. He’s done a great job of that. I’d say it’s maintaining the timing and the overall leg speed and technique that makes kickers good at their job."