Blakely: Celtics loss to Heat proves they're still a work in progress


Blakely: Celtics loss to Heat proves they're still a work in progress

MIAMI There was no spilled blood or mangled body parts at America Airlines Arena as the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat kicked off the first chapter of what should be yet another brutal annual rivalry Tuesday night that ended with a 120-107 Celtics loss.

It was just the first of many battles to be waged between these foes, but there was no mistaking that this game meant more to all involved than it being just one of 82 games which they have been trying to sell folks on for weeks.

Nobody is buying that.

The Heat were out to prove that they were a wiser, smarter bunch than the franchise's first title winner in 2006 that opened defense of their crown by getting smashed by the Chicago Bulls in the opener.

And the Celtics were set on establishing that their depth, experience and all those cut-and-paste small ball lineups Doc Rivers can use, would truly be "lethal" in the games that really mattered.

However in their first game, the C's second unit managed to be outscored by the Miami backups, 32-29.

And during a stretch early in the third quarter, Miami pushed its lead to double digits with both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on the bench.

"That should never happen," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "You can see they're ahead of us in continuity and all that."

And that lack of continuity is among the many reasons why the Celtics, while disappointed, are far from discouraged.

"We're not where we want to be," said C's newcomer Jason Terry. "But we will eventually."

It was refreshing after the game that most of the focus was on the actual game played, and not all the various subplots that had been dissected in the weeks leading up to the season opener.

Aside from a few hard fouls and what appeared to be some lingering hard feelings, the game was relatively free of drama.

The only moments where the tension was clearly noticeable came in the first quarter when Ray Allen tapped the shoulder of Kevin Garnett who was on the C's bench at the time, and Garnett ignored him.

"You guys know KG," Allen told a handful of Boston media. "Did you expect him to react? Kevin, he's an intense competitor. On the bench, he's in a different world; he's in a different zone. The five years I played with him, you have to respect that."

But breaking down whatever reasonsissues KG had for doing - or in this case, not doing anything - is pointless.

The C's have bigger, more important issues to worry about.

Doc Rivers had expressed concerns about his defense throughout the preseason, and they were in full blown, nowhere-to-be-found mode against a Heat team that racked up 93 points in just three quarters.

"That's not who we are; the way we defended tonight," said Paul Pierce.

All those small ball lineups that Doc Rivers loves to unleash, all came up small most of the game.

Jeff Green, arguably the best player for the C's in the preseason, was a non-factor and far too often looked lost, confused and when guarding LeBron James, flat-out abused.

"It all starts on the defensive end," Green said. "I didn't feel I was as aggressive on the defensive end as I should have been."

He wasn't alone.

Defense. Small ball challenges. Lots of first-half turnovers.

Yes, it was the first of 82 regular season games.

But this one means more not because of the outcome, but the opportunity it presents.

"Tonight was a good measuring stick for us," Pierce said. "We played against a team that's the best team in the NBA; they are the champs. There's a good chance for us to see where we're at. We got a lot of work to do. Obviously it's Game 1. We're not going to be the same team. As the year goes on, we understand it's a work in progress."

Pregame Number: Perimeter pain for the Bulls


Pregame Number: Perimeter pain for the Bulls

Tonight’s pregame number is 133. That’s the total number of made 3-point field goals made last season by the players starting for the Bulls tonight. Whatever the Bulls reasons for signing Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade were this offseason, floor spacing was not one of them.

Wade’s career mark of 28.4 percent from distance is the third-worst percentage among active players with 600+ career attempts, while Rondo’s 28.9 career 3-pt FG% is seventh worst. And, for what it’s worth, the new-look Bulls shot 31.8 percent from beyond the arc (21st in the NBA) this preseason, while hitting 7.7 3-pointers per game. 

Despite allowing 15 3’s last night vs the Nets, perimeter defense should once again be a strength for the Celtics. Last season, the Celtics were fourth in the NBA with an opponent 3-pt FG% of 33.6. They were 38-15 when holding opponents to eight or fewer 3’s. 

With the NBA continuing to trend towards more 3-point shooting, it will be interesting to see how Fred Hoiberg’s offense looks this season, and especially tonight vs the Celtics.

Thursday's Patriots-Bills practice participation/report: Edelman still limited


Thursday's Patriots-Bills practice participation/report: Edelman still limited

FOXBORO -- Even though Dion Lewis returned to practice on Thursday, there were no changes to the Patriots injury report.

Because Lewis remains on the physically unable to perform list, he does not count against the active roster, and the team is not required to list his participation level following practices. The Patriots have three weeks to activate Lewis, and whenever they do, he'll be eligible to show up on the participation report.

There were no changes to New England's injury report, meaning that tight end Martellus Bennett, receiver Julian Edelman and linebacker Jamie Collins all continue to be limited. Edelman has been limited with a foot injury since before his team's Week 6 matchup with the Browns. Despite just nine catches for 65 yards in Tom Brady's first two games back from suspension, Edelman bounced back against the Steelers and reeled in nine passes for 60 yards.

The Bills continue to be hampered by a variety of ailments. Linebacker Zach Brown, who almost single-handedly ruined Patriots plans back in Week 4, missed Thursday's workout with an illness, as did guard Richie Incognito. Running back LeSean McCoy missed practice for the second straight day with a hamstring injury, and receiver Marquis Goodwin was out with a concussion. 

Here's Thursday's full practice participation/injury report for the Patriots and Bills:


TE Martellus Bennett (ankle)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
LB Jamie Collins (hip)
WR Julian Edelman (foot)
DL Woodrow Hamilton (shoulder)
LB Shea McClellin (concussion)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (hamstring)
LB Elandon Roberts (ankle)
DL Vincent Valentine (back)


LB Zach Brown (illness)
TE Cordy Glenn (ankle)
WR Marquise Goodwin (concussion)
G Richie Incognito (illness)
RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring)
S Aaron Williams (neck)

DT Corbin Bryan (shoulder)
TE Charles Clay (knee)
DT Marcell Dareus (hamstring)
RB Mike Gillislee (foot)
LB Jerry Hughes (hand)
LB Lerentee McCray (knee)
G John Miller (shoulder)
WR Robert Woods (foot)

T Seantreal Henderson (back)

LB Lorenzo Alexander (non-injury related)
DT Adolphus Washington (illness)