Austin Rivers 'really excited' to play against Celtics


Austin Rivers 'really excited' to play against Celtics

BOSTON -- It's not every day that a visiting player is ushered into a separate room and given his own press conference prior to facing the Boston Celtics.
In the past, special arrangements like that have been made for LeBron James when he came to Boston. Someone like Ray Allen may prompt the same type of scenario when he returns to the TD Garden for the first time later this month.
But a rookie? Until Wednesday night, that would have been highly unlikely.
Then again, Doc Rivers' son had never played against the Celtics before.
Austin Rivers is facing his father's team as a member of the New Orleans Hornets. The 10th overall pick in last summer's draft addressed the media for roughly ten minutes before the game. Step inside Austin Rivers' world:

Neither Austin or Doc want to psyche themselves out with this game. The significance of it, though, is undeniable.
"Ive just tried to treat it as it is," said Austin. "I think a lot of guys or a lot of people try to hide the fact that theyre going against a team that they know very well, or when they go against their father, they try to pretend its a normal game. Its pretty much impossible to do that so I just try to treat it as it is -- Im going against a team with guys that I know pretty well and my father coaches the other team, and it is what it is. Im just gonna have fun with it. This is a fun chance. Im more excited to play against a playoff-caliber team, a Hall of Fame team, thats why Im just really excited to go out there and compete tonight, and just have fun in the game whether things are going well or not. And hopefully we will win.

When Austin hears a certain voice coming from the sidelines, he may do a double-take.
This is the same type of yell hed use if I beat up my little brother or didnt do my homework," Austin said. "So I know when hes yelling, I'm going to have to look back for a second and think, 'Oh, hes not talking to me.' He actually might say something to me, who knows. I dont know, it's one of those things where I think I'm just going to lose myself into the game. If this happen or he does something, I'm not going to pay attention to it. I'm just going to be focusing on what I need to do with my team, my coach and my players.

Austin did not hesitate to answer when asked who he believes is the best coach in the NBA.
"My father," he quickly replied, "And Gregg Popovich would have to be the two best coaches. I think Coach (Monty) Williams is on the up and coming, just the way he coaches, he's kind of similar to my father, just the way he gets after it and how hungry he is. So I know he'll be a great coach and he is now. There's a lot of great coaches, but if I had to choose one or two, it'd have to be Greg Popovich and my father."

Austin has never lacked in confidence, although it has been tested his rookie season.
"You've seen a lot of guys this year, rookies, especially our class right now as been so up and down," he said. "There's guys that I've known my whole life that don't look the same. There's people with their head down and I think I've been a culprit as well. There've been games when I've had my head down, and that's never been me. That's where you've just got to stay up and stay confident and believe in yourself. To be truthful, confidence for me is a huge part of my game and I think everybody knows that. I've gotten here obviously of hard work and support behind me, my confidence has always been steady, no matter how good or bad I played, I always believed in myself. And I think that's when I've got to improve on even more now because there's been games, where after the game I'm like, man what was I doing? And you can't think that. You've got to be like, You know what? I've got to keep going at it, I've got to keep just going for it. I know if I do that and I break through it, it's just going to feel so much better. That's my focus right now."
Who does Austin think his mother his pulling for -- her son or or husband? "Me," he said, "Because she loves me more than him."

Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable


Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

FOXBORO -- The Patriots will head into Sunday's AFC title game with seven players listed as questionable, including three receivers. 

Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan have all been limited in practices this week due to their injuries. Amendola has been dealing with an ankle issue since a Week 13 win over the Rams, while Mitchell has not played since injuring his knee in Week 16 against the Jets. Hogan suffered a thigh injury against the Texans and left the game in the third quarter.

Both Hogan and Mitchell indicated this week that they were moving in the right direction in terms of their recoveries. One would think that the Patriots would need at least one, if not both, to help stress the back end of the Steelers secondary this weekend.

Hogan has been the team's most consistent down-the-field threat this season, averaging a whopping 17.9 yards per catch during the regular season. Against the Texans, before his injury, he reeled in four passes for 95 yards. 

Mitchell, meanwhile, had a very productive second half of his rookie season before he was hurt. He compiled 25 catches for 306 yards between Weeks 11 and 16, establishing himself as one of Tom Brady's go-to targets. 

The overall health of the Patriots receiving corps -- which will also include Julian Edelman and Michael Floyd -- will bear watching when the Patriots and Steelers kick off in two days.

The injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Steelers game:


WR Danny Amendola (ankle)
TE Martellus Bennett (knee)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder)
WR Chris Hogan (thigh)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee)
DL Jabaal Sheard (knee)


TE Ladarius Green (concussion/illness)
LB James Harrison (shoulder/triceps)
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (concussion)

RB Le'Veon Bell (not injury related)
K Chris Boswell (illness)
LB Anthony Chickillo (ankle)
S Sean Davis (shoulder)
C B.J. Finney (illness)
WR Darrius Heyward-Bay (illness)
DE Ricardo Mathews (ankle)
QB Zach Mettenberger (illness)
S Michael Mitchell (not injury related)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (not injury related)
LB Vince Williams (shoulder)