Celtics-Grizzlies review: Boston loses by double digits

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Celtics-Grizzlies review: Boston loses by double digits

BOSTON True to form, the Boston Celtics maintained their lopsided-playing ways with a 93-83 loss to Memphis. 
It was Boston's 12th double-digit loss this season out of 17 defeats, reinforcing Doc Rivers' greatest fears about his team.
When they lose, they don't just lose: they get blown out. 
"It's amazing, the difference for us when we win and lose games," Rivers said recently. "The numbers are startling. That's what we have to improve."
In their 14 wins, the C's have won by an average of  9.1 points per game. In the 16 losses prior to Wednesday's game, Boston was getting beat by an average of 12.2 points per game. 
Here are some of the keys identified prior to tonight's game that in some fashion played a role in the C's suffering yet another decisive defeat. 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Memphis has one of the best 1-2 frontcourt punches with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Their ability to control the action inside the paint is at the heart of why Memphis ranks among the NBA leaders in points in the paint (43.7, 7th) and rebounds (52.5, 8th) per game.
WHAT WE SAW: The Randolph-Gasol tandem was far from spectacular for the Grizzlies. The duo combined for 11 points on 4-for-15 shooting to go with 15 rebounds.

MATCHUP TO WATCH:  Kevin Garnett vs Zach Randolph: Although Garnett's production as dipped since moving to power forward, the C's remain convinced that this will benefit him and the Celtics over the long haul. Randolph remains one of the more under-rated talents in the NBA, averaging 17 points and 12.5 rebounds per game this season. 
WHAT WE SAW:  Garnett did a better-than-average job defensively on Randolph, but it clearly had an impact on his scoring as Garnett had 12 points on 5-for-14 shooting along with seven rebounds. Randolph had six points on 3-for-8 shooting to go with eight rebounds. 
"I have to balance it out between being more offensively minded and being defensively minded," Garnett said. "I'm playing against one of the best forwards in the world, and that being Zach. I have a lot of respect for him. I knew it was going to be a bear fight; just getting ready for that matchup. I never once really balanced it out as far as being offensive minded so I have to do a better job with that."

PLAYER TO WATCH: Easily it will be Avery Bradley. His long-awaited return should provide a boost of energy -- or at the very least, better play defensively -- that the Celtics are in desperate need right now. 
WHAT WE SAW: His defense was decent, but not exceptional by anyone's standards. He made a couple of baskets on cuts to the basket, which was what got him going offensively last season. He's definitely a work in progress, but certainly showed signs of eventually working his way into delivering the kind of high impact play both he and the Celtics expect from him defensively. He finished with four points in 19 minutes. 
"He's a big addition to what we do," Garnett said. Said Paul Pierce, "It's good to really see him out there tonight."

STAT TO TRACK: Scoring will indeed be at a premium for the Celtics against a stingy Grizzlies defense that's giving up an NBA-low 90 points per game. Boston has failed to score 90 or more points in two of their last three games. 
WHAT WE SAW: Boston was getting its share of points, but there was one problem. Their defense was giving up even more. After shooting better than 60 percent in the first half and better than 50 percent most of the second, Memphis was having one of its better games offensively as they fended off a late Celtics surge to get the win. 
"Percentage-wise we played good defense in the second half," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "We just couldn't score."

Brady allows himself to enjoy win: '[Bleep], you've got to be happy now'

Brady allows himself to enjoy win: '[Bleep], you've got to be happy now'

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady can be his own worst critic. That's why last week, after beating the Texans in the Divisional Round to move on to the AFC title game, he wasn't thrilled. He didn't play up to his standards. The offense struggled at points. He wore his frustration like a five o'clock shadow.

Winning is not everything for Brady, most weeks. He has an idea of how he should perform, how the Patriots offense should perform, and when those ideals aren't met, he's generally displeased. 

PATRIOTS 36, STEELERS 17

On Sunday, after beating up on the Steelers, 36-17, that wasn't the case. It was a sound performance, but it wasn't perfect. It was explosive at times, but it shined a light on areas where the Patriots will need to continue to improve. 

Despite its imperfections, Sunday was no time to brood about plays missed or lessons learned the hard way. Screw it, Brady seemed to say. They were going to the Super Bowl. It was OK to smile.  

"It was a good day," Brady said. "I mean, we're going to the Super Bowl, man. [Expletive], you've got to be happy now."

The Super Bowl berth is the ninth in franchise history -- more than any other club -- and the seventh with Brady and coach Bill Belichick. By throwing for 384 yards and three touchdowns on 32-of-42 passing, Brady tied Joe Montana for the most postseason games (nine) with three touchdown passes. 

Brady will also claim the record for Super Bowls played when he and the Patriots head to Houston. And if they win, he'll tie Charles Haley for most Super Bowl wins for a player (five).

Those are lofty numbers made even more significant, perhaps, due to the fact that Brady wasn't allowed to start this season as his team's quarterback. He was asked during Sunday's postgame press conference if it was personally satisfying to get back to the Super Bowl despite having to serve a four-game suspension due to Deflategate.

"Well, that's because of the hard work of a lot of people from my coaches to my teammates to our families that support us," he said. "It takes a lot of people, a lot of hard work and a lot of effort over the course of many months. This didn't start at 6:40 tonight.

"This thing started in April. It really started before that in free-agency when we were picking up guys like [Chris] Hogan and drafting guys like Malcolm Mitchell and guy who were in rehab like [LeGarrette Blount] and [Dion Lewis] and [James Develin] and Nate [Solder]. It's a lot of hard work. There are only two teams left standing, and I'm happy we're one of them."

They're going to the Super Bowl. He has to be happy now.