Celtics-Hawks preview: Praise for Bradley

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Celtics-Hawks preview: Praise for Bradley

BOSTON - When Avery Bradley burst on to the scene last season, his numbers rarely showed what kind of impact he had on games.

Now that he's back on the floor for the Boston Celtics, not a lot has changed for the third-year guard whose greatest contributions seldom show up among the final statistics except for the one that matters most - wins.

Bradley's play was instrumental in Boston snapping a four-game losing streak with a 94-75 win over Indiana on Friday. And his play will likely be a factor in tonight's game at Atlanta.

Following the C's win over the Pacers, there was plenty of praise to be passed around.

But Rivers made a point of singling out Bradley's performance which included him shooting 3-for-11 from the field for six points.

"Avery was three for eleven and he may have been the most valuable player," Rivers said. "Because of his defensive pressure, just on the ball, it made them take so much time to get into their sets and when they got in their sets it wasn't the right spot."

Indeed, Bradley is known as a player who provides many of the intangibles that teams looking to compete at the highest of levels, needs in order to be successful.

The praise from Rivers is not lost on Bradley.

"That's what I try to bring every night," he said. "I try to bring that intensity on the defensive end but that's my role, to be the energy when I come into the game."

The Celtics will indeed be looking for Bradley to make an impact tonight as the C's face the Atlanta Hawks.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: A big part of Boston's success against the Pacers was their ability to hold their own on the boards. In fact, Boston was plus-2 on the boards which is a major coup for them. They will look to be just as good or better tonight.

MATCHUP TO WATCH:  Kevin Garnett vs Al Horford:  Both have the ability to score around the basket as well as facing the basket. But Horford's experience and youthfulness give him a slight edge over the future Hall of Famer.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Jason Terry could use a stretch of consistent play which isn't coming anytime soon for the Celtics. Against the Pacers, he missed six of his eight shots from the field and finished with six points.

STAT TO TRACK: Boston should capitalize on an Atlanta team that sends opposing teams to the free throw line - a lot. Hawks opponents are averaging 14.5 free throws made and 18.4 free throw attempts - both league highs.

Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

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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:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

QUESTIONABLE
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)

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

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

NOT LISTED
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)