Celtics

Wakeup call: Theo speaks; Howard loves L.A.; protecting the statue

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Wakeup call: Theo speaks; Howard loves L.A.; protecting the statue

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Thursday, July 19:

BASEBALL
Theo Epstein has a message for Cubs Nation: Lower your expectations, at least for the near future. (CSN Chicago)

Jerry Seinfeld live Tweeted the Mets-Nationals game -- and made a Steve Bartman reference to boot -- during Wednesday night's ESPN telecast. (CSN Washington)

Melky Cabrera the ballplayer is having quite the renaissance this year, but not so much Melky Cabrera the person. At least that's how Chipper Jones and the Atlanta fans see it. (CSN Bay Area)

Ever wonder how to throw a pie in a postgame celebration? Watch Josh Reddick tell you how. (CSN Bay Area)

BASKETBALL
Now Dwight Howard says yes, he will sign with the Lakers. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

Kobe Bryant doesn't think much of David Stern's push for an under-23 basketball tournament in the Olympics. And that's putting it mildly. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

All things considered, Jeremy Lin would rather be in New York. Bet the Rockets are thrilled to hear that after writing him a 25 million check. (AP)

COLLEGE SPORTS
After a plane flew over the Penn State campus carrying a banner that read "Take the statue down or we will," a group of students began a "Oh no you won't" vigil around the Joe Paterno statue. (AP via CSN Philly)

Pitt pays the Big East 7.5 million, and the Big East says, okay, you can leave after the 2013 season. (AP)

FOOTBALL
With each day comes word of another former NFL player dying young. Today it's Cleveland Elam, a member of the 49ers' "Gold Rush" front four of the 1970s, at age 60. (CSN Bay Area)

RGIII is (finally) a Redskin. (CSN Washington) But how long did it take for you to figure out what HTTR meant?

One of the reasons the injury problem -- specifically, the concussion problem -- is so pervasive is that players won't come clean when they're hurt. Troy Polamalu is the latest, telling Dan Patrick he's lied about concussions to get back in a game and that "any football player . . . records at least maybe 50 to 100 concussions a year". (CSN Baltimore)

A dynasty in Philadelphia? Michael Vick thinks so. (CSN Philly)

The referees say the NFL planned to lock them out all along. The NFL is shocked, shocked, to hear such a thing. (AP)

HOCKEY
They're talking, and it's "cordial". Can't say there's any progress, however, betwen the owners and players. (AP)

If some of the owners' demands have a "Save us from ourselves!" ring, here's why: The Flyers signed Shea Weber to a 14-year, 100 million offer sheet. (CSN Phllly) The Predators have a week to match it.

The Kings' Drew Doughty won't be charged with date rape. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

-- Hail to the Redskins

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.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE