Belichick excited to get back on the field after long wait

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Belichick excited to get back on the field after long wait

FOXBORO -- It's been 12 days since the Patriots last played a game, and the buildup to Sunday's meeting with the Bills has seemed almost interminable for coach Bill Belichick.

"Seems like a month since we've played," he said. "I think everybody's excited to get back out there and get going. We have a lot of challenges here with Buffalo in all three phases of the game as a team. Hopefully we're ready to meet those, get back out on the field and start playing again. Had a lot of practice time, a lot of film time, a lot of meeting time. Like I said I think we're excited, ready to get back out there and go. It can't get here soon enough."

Belichick said that with the extra practice time -- the Patriots have held four practices this week as opposed to the typical three leading up to a game -- the team may be a little ahead of schedule, but there is still plenty of work to do.

"The Bills give you a lot to get ready for," he said. "So we could probably take a month to get ready for Buffalo and still be working on something."

The bye week has given the Patriots more time to prepare, but they're trying to finish the week as normally as possible. Belichick explained that the team plans its weeks so that leading into a game -- no matter when it is: Sunday, Monday night, Thursday night -- players can feel as though they are going through their normal routine.

"I think those days leading up the game are pretty consistent," Belichick said. "Those days at the end are kind of the same, pretty much the same, so the player can get into that same routine so he can be at that same point weekly.

"It's not one week at all peaks, the next week you're kind of on the down slope, and the next week it peaks. You try to have it, you know, hit that crest every game . . . Personally is each guy in the same exact emotional state every week. I don't know. But the idea is to get to the highest point possible at that time and it's by sequencing the final days to try to facilitate that."

Though the structure of teams' practices have changed with the new collective bargaining agreement, Belichick said that the normal three-day practice schedule has been the same ever since he came into the NFL as an assistant with the Baltimore Colts in 1975. That explains why this four-day practice week is a little bit odd, even for him, and why he's itching to get back on the field for a game.

"It's been pretty much the same since I've come into the league," Belichick said of the three-day practice schedule. "Which was probably pretty much the same with Paul Brown, who changed the -- most everything Paul Brown did, I'd say, is what most professional teams do now. Sixty something, however many years later, however many years it's been."

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics surge at end of second quarter

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics surge at end of second quarter

BOSTON –  For the second time in as many games, the Boston Celtics were hosting a team eager to get off a losing skid.

But a strong surge near the end of the second quarter gave the Celtics a 65-56 halftime lead over Portland which came into the night having lost four straight.

Boston opened with a 12-4 run capped off by a 3-pointer by Jae Crowder – his second within the game’s first couple minutes.

But the Blazers were being carried by C.J. McCollum, half of the most explosive backcourt in the NBA. His 12 first-quarter points were crucial to keeping the Blazers within 28-26 at the end of the quarter.

McCollum continued to out-perform everyone else on the floor, even Isaiah Thomas who had a quieter than usual first half.

But the 5-foot-9 Thomas continued to make all the plays needed to put the Celtics back on top courtesy of a 12-3 run that put them ahead 57-49 with 1:55 to play in the half.

From there, Boston was able to maintain control of the game.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Saturday’s game.

 

STARS

C.J. McCollum

While there’s still talk about whether Damian Lillard will be an All-Star this year, McCollum has played well enough to where he’s at least worthy of a mention in the All-Star conversation. He certainly carried Portland in the first half with 26 points on 8-for-12 shooting.

Isaiah Thomas

As usual, Thomas drew a considerable amount of attention from the opposing defense. And slowly but surely, he found cracks that he could exploit. At the half, he had 17 points, four assists and three rebounds, one of which was an offensive board that he put-back in for a lay-up.

 

STUDS

Jae Crowder

He put the Celtics on a good path from the outset, knocking down a couple 3’s in the first couple of minutes. He finished the half with 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting which included a trio of 3-pointers.

Meyers Leonard

He was 3-for-4 in the first half which included a pair of powerful dunks over Boston’s Jordan Mickey. At the half he had eight points and two rebounds.

 

DUDS

Damian Lillard

It was a rough half for the two-time All-Star, tallying just three points on 1-for-5 shooting. A big part of his problem? Foul trouble. He played just 10 minutes in the first half due in large part to having three personal fouls.