Celtics

Wakeup Call: Honoring two sets of victims

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Wakeup Call: Honoring two sets of victims

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Thursday, December 27:

BASEBALL
Jerry Reinsdorf gets gushy -- or as gushy as he ever gets -- as he says goodbye to A.J. Pierzynski. (CSN Chicago)

There was a time when the Yankees, in need of outfield help, signed the Reggie Jacksons and Dave Winfields. Now they're signing the Matt Diazes. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

Jason Grilli will replace Joel Hanrahan as the Pirates' closer. (Hardball Talk)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
A heart condition forces Creighton senior backup guard Josh Jones to retire. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Virginia Tech -- which experienced a mass shooting in 2007 -- will honorboth the Sandy Hook victims and its own with special decals on its helmets during the Russell Athletic Bowl on Friday. (AP)

Underdogs usually go all humble ("It's an honor to be on the same field with insert opponent here and we're certainly going to try our darndest") or all Rodney Harrison ("NOBODY thought we could do it!!"). As it prepares for the BCS championship game against Alabama, Notre Dame is choosing the former. (CSN Chicago)

We have a new Little Caesars Pizza Bowl champion, and it's Central Michigan. (AP)

HOCKEY
So are we, Lou. So are we. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

In the meantime, the game of chicken continues. (Pro Hockey Talk)

Sounds like the Coyotes are actually hoping the season gets canceled. (Pro Hockey Talk)

A skate to the neck is "nothing serious"? Jiri Hudler must be wondering what his Czech team considers "serious". (Pro Hockey Talk)

PRO BASKETBALL
Quite the holiday season for the Bobcats: They haven't won a game since two days after Thanksgiving, with last night's loss to the Heat making it 14 in a row. (AP)

It could be worse. They could be the Wizards. (CSN Washington)

The Hornets' long nightmare, however, is over. (AP)

After that arduous climb back to .500, the Lakers slip back down the slope. (AP)

Hack-A-Dwight takes on a whole new meaning. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

The Knicks ditch those ghastly orange-on-orange monstrosities they wore Christmas Day and get back to their winning ways. (AP)

A taste of summer: Weather postpones the Bulls and Pacers. (CSN Chicago)

It sounds kind of ominous -- Rudy Gay missing the Grizzlies' game against the Sixers for "personal reasons" (Pro Basketball Talk) -- but the Memphis Commercial Appeal subsequently reported that Gay was unable to fly in because of weather problems across the country. I guess that's personal . . .

PRO FOOTBALL
Tim Tebow insists he never told Rex Ryan he would refuse to play in the wildcat formation last week, and is offended that anyone would think he's a diva or a quitter. But he says he can see how Ryan could have concluded that after a conversation they had a week ago. Then, after watching Jeremy Kerley run the wildcat for two days in practice, he went and told Ryan he'd do anything he was asked. Then Ryan didn't use him anyway. Man, this TebowJets thing just couldn't have gone more smoothly, could it? (AP)

The old Colts -- the Bill PolianTony DungyPeyton Manning Colts -- are one of the main reasons most fantasy leagues end in Week 16; they would consistently sit out most of their regulars as the season wound down. But these are the new Colts, and they're playing to win Sunday . . . much to the delight of the Patriots, who need their opponent, the Texans, to lose. (AP)

As are the Ravens, though, theoretically, they still have something to play for: They could get the No. 3 seed if they win and the Patriots lose. (CSN Baltimore)

Michael Vick says he's not looking at Sunday's start against the Giants as an audition for the other 31 NFL teams . . . though that's what it is. (CSN Philly)

Nor is Andy Reid looking at Sunday's game against the Giants as the final afternoon of his Eagles coaching career . . . though that's what it (probably) is. (CSN Philly)

Or maybe not. (CSN Philly)

Old friend Brian Hoyer is going to make his first NFL start Sunday. (AP)

Here are some of the more blatant Pro Bowl snubs. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

Tom Brady's BFF, Richard Sherman, was one of them, but he's got bigger fish to fry than worrying about missing a trip to Hawaii: He's planning to sue the NFL if he gets suspended for PED use. (Pro Football Talk)

Ben Roethlisberger says the Steelers' failures this season are on him. (AP)

The Cowboys' Josh Brent has been formally indicted on one count of intoxication manslaughter in the death of teammate Jerry Brown. (AP)

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