Celtics-Kings review: C's defense flops in Sacramento

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Celtics-Kings review: C's defense flops in Sacramento

SACRAMENTO The Boston Celtics come back, and then ... they come up short.

It has been that way far too often this season, with Sunday's 118-96 loss to the Sacramento Kings being no exception.

And the reasons the C's can't sustain a run lasting more than a couple of minutes, is that's about as long as their once-vaunted but now vulnerable defense, can last.

Dribble penetration, especially at the point guard position, has been an issue all season.

But on Sunday, Boston's help-side defense was just as responsible for the Kings guards and wings penetrating into the lane for easy lay-ups or kick-outs to wide open shooters.

So the Celtics head back to Boston, worse off in just about every way imaginable before venturing out West.

Of course there's plenty of time left in the season to turn things around.

But outside the C's locker room, you would be hard-pressed to find many folks who believe this team as they are assembled, will improve much even with the return of Avery Bradley this week.

Here's a review of the keys identified prior to the game, and who they played out as the Celtics cap off their West coast trip with a third straight loss.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: With the Celtics short-handed in the backcourt, the Kings will look to push the tempo as much as possible. Although it hasn't resulted in many wins this season, the Kings have actually been a decent team in terms of scoring in transition. They come into tonight's game averaging 15.3 fast-break points per game which ranks ninth in the league.

WHAT WE SAW: Boston's transition defense was about as bad as we've seen this season, with the Kings scoring 20 fast-break points which seemed like it was a lot more than that.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Jason Terry vs Marcus Thornton: In the Celtics lone game against the Kings last season, Thornton lit them up for 36 points in one of the biggest Sacramento blowout wins (120-95) over the Celtics ever. With Rajon Rondo (right hipthigh) likely out for a second straight game, getting good shots for Terry will be challenging yet again for Boston.

WHAT WE SAW: A sprained left ankle injury took Thornton out of the mix in the third quarter. At the time, he had five points on 2-for-7 shooting. Terry was well in control of this matchup even before Thornton's injury as Terry scored 14 of his 20 points in the first half.

PLAYER TO WATCH: DeMarcus Cousins is so talented, it's hard not to keep all eyes on him when he plays. But far too often it his temper and not his talent, that leaves an indelible impression on the game. If he sticks to the latter, the Celtics - a team that has been rumored to have some interest in trading for him - are going to be in for a long, long night.

WHAT WE SAW: Cousins didn't score much, but there was no mistaking his all-around game was a big reason for the Kings' blowout win. He finished with a triple-double - his first of his career - of 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

STAT TO TRACK: In the last two games, Boston's 3-point shooting defense has been horrible. The Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State each nailed a dozen 3s, something the C's had not allowed to happen in consecutive games since Seattle (now Oklahoma City) and Toronto did it in December of 2003 with 17 and 13 made 3s, respectively.

WHAT WE SAW: Sacramento wasn't nearly as prolific with its 3-point shooting as the Celtics' previous opponents - they made just 10 on Sunday. While the C's defense may have been somewhat of a factor, the bigger reason was because Sacramento was having so much success attacking the rim and getting baskets off the dribble and in transition.

Does Brady have words planned for Goodell at Super Bowl? 'We'll see'

Does Brady have words planned for Goodell at Super Bowl? 'We'll see'

Tom Brady wouldn't take the bait following the AFC title game. He was told that he must've heard the "Where's Roger?" chants, and so then he must've had a reaction.

"I didn't hear that chant," Brady replied. 

WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show took another run at the Patriots quarterback's relatonship with commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday morning. Had Brady thought about what he might say should he come face-to-face with Goodell at Super Bowl LI?

"Hopefully we’ll finish the deal," Brady said. "Hopefully we can finish it off, and we’ll see. Maybe I’ll tell you after. But I don’t want to get into winning something before we’ve won it, because it’s going to be hard to win this thing."

Should the Patriots win their fifth Super Bowl title, Brady probably won't be accepting the Lombardi Trophy from Goodell. That exchange usually takes place with the owner at center stage. Perhaps there's a scenario in which Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft allows Brady to take the stage first, but it would go against what has been Super Bowl protocol. 

Brady and Goodell could be forced to share the spotlight on the morning after the Super Bowl, however, when the MVP trophy is handed out. It's a ritual they carried out together on the morning following Super Bowl XLIX, when Deflategate was in its nascent stages.

One would think that the embrace they shared that day -- long before the Wells Report was published and long before Brady and the league were pitted against one another in federal court -- will be the last thing that either man wants to recreate two weeks from now. 

Brady on the effectiveness of Belichick's approach: 'You're brainwashed'

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Brady on the effectiveness of Belichick's approach: 'You're brainwashed'

During his weekly interview with WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show, Tom Brady highlighted the thought process that has helped make the Patriots such a successful team under Bill Belichick, and in the process of complimenting his boss, Brady also may have taken an inadvertent shot at the Steelers.

As broadcat to the world via Antonio Brown's Facebook feed, Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin noted immediately after the Divisional Round that the Patriots had an advantage in preparing for the AFC title game because they had more time to rest.

"I would say in general on our team we have a sign on our wall that says, ‘Doing the right thing for the team when it might not be the right thing for you.’ That’s just putting everything aside," Brady said. "Ignoring the noise, the positive things people may be saying about you, or the negative things people may say about you. Just believing in yourself and not making excuses.

"There’s always an excuse you can build into why you lose a game. 'We’re only playing on six days rest, we have this person hurt, or we didn’t get that call.' There are a million of them, and they’re all built in and you can pick them all off before the game. I think our coach does a great job of never buying into the B.S. He never makes it about one player. He never makes it about one play. He never makes it about one call, or one situation. It’s all about all of us collectively trying to do the best thing we can for the team to try and help us win. He never lets his foot off the gas pedal so when it comes to our team, you’re brainwashed. That’s just the way it goes."

The numbers support Belichick's approach: He'll be coaching in a 10th Super Bowl in two weeks, and seven of those have come as a head coach. Both are NFL records.