Celtics' Rivers, Terry saddened by Nets' Johnson's firing


Celtics' Rivers, Terry saddened by Nets' Johnson's firing

LOS ANGELES It didn't take long for the news of Avery Johnson being fired by the Brooklyn Nets to make its way out West.

"The Nets ownership would like to express thanks to Avery for his efforts and to wish him every success in the future," Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov said in a release on Thursday.

Two of Johnson's biggest supporters - Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers and C's guard Jason Terry - were both saddened and disappointed by the news.

"When I heard the news it was tough," said Terry who played for Johnson in Dallas. "I know he put his heart and soul into trying to make Brooklyn a winner. And I believe in his system to this day."

Rivers, a former teammate of Johnson's in San Antonio, understands all too well that this is part of the package that comes with being an NBA head coach.

"It's awful," Rivers said of Johnson's firing. "It's the business we're in. But it's a tough one. He's one of my best friends.

Rivers added, "it comes out of nowhere. Avery is a terrific coach, so who knows."

Brooklyn (14-14) has lost five of its last six which includes a Christmas Day defeat to the Celtics.

"Three weeks ago, they were playing as well as anybody," Rivers said. "The NBA is a league of ebbs and flows. That's just the way it is. You go on good streaks, you go on bad ones and you hope you right the ship and go back on a good one. I just thought that was awful quick to make a change."

Just last month, Johnson was the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month and the Nets were seen as a legitimate power in the East.

Today, Johnson's out of a job and the Nets are looking more and more like the downtrodden club from New Jersey that they have gone to great measures to distance themselves from with the move to Brooklyn.

While it's still too soon to predict where Johnson will wind up next, his head coaching record of 254-186 will likely land him another head coaching job eventually.

"He has one of the greatest systems I've ever played in," Terry said. "So I have the utmost respect for him. I know he'll be coaching again in this league soon, if he wants to."

After Johnson was fired by Dallas in 2008 when the Mavs failed to make it out of the first round of the playoffs for the second straight year, he spent 2008-2010 as a studio analyst for ESPNABC.

Pregame number: Al Horford to the rescue


Pregame number: Al Horford to the rescue

Tonight’s pregame number to watch is 45.4%. That was the Celtics' score frequency on pick and rolls finished by the screener last season, which was the worst rate in the NBA.

Score Frequency: The percentage of possession in which the team or player scores at least 1 point.

The major problem for the Celtics last season was personnel, as Jared Sullinger finished the most pick and roll plays for the C’s after setting a screen, and he was -- to put it nicely -- freaking terrible. Sullinger was the second-worst roll/pop man in the league, averaging a paltry 0.87 points per possession.

Fortunately, the Celtics replaced Jared Sullinger with four-time All-Star Al Horford, who is one of the elite roll/pop men in the NBA. Last season, Horford finished fifth in the NBA averaging 1.13 points per possession as a roll/pop man and boasted a more than solid 57.1 eFG% on those plays. 

eFG% (Effective Field Goal Percentage): Measures field goal percentage adjusting for the fact that a 3-point field goal is worth one more point than a 2-point field goal. The equation is ((FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA

If you watched the preseason, then you already know the kind of impact Horford can have on the Celtics half court offense. So keep an eye out for those pick and rolls tonight and throughout the season, and we should see that 45.4% Score Frequency jump somewhere closer to 50%.

Bills promise to retaliate if Patriots run through their warmups again


Bills promise to retaliate if Patriots run through their warmups again

FOXBORO -- The Patriots, led by Tom Brady, are looking to stay above the fray when it comes to any sort of extra-curricular back-and-forth with the Bills this week. 

The Bills? They appear ready to throw down -- or start a shoving match, or yell and scream at someone -- again at a moment's notice. 

Three Buffalo players were fined following their Week 4 win over the Patriots because they were involved in a scuffle with Patriots players and coaches after rookie Patriots quarterback Jacoby Brissett and rookie receiver Malcolm Mitchell ran by a Bills warmup drill. 

A few defensive backs took exception to how close Brissett and Mitchell came to their area, and safety Robert Blanton shoved Brissett to get the scrap started. 

According to reports out of Buffalo, mulitple Bills players have insisted that they won't hesitate to retaliate if the Patriots buzz by their drills again.

Of course, the difference this time around will be that Brady will be the one who might jog by, not a rookie about to make his second NFL start. Would the Bills treat him the same way they'd treat a 20-something kid who is new to the league? 

Immediately after the Week 4 loss, Patriots players were not pleased by what happened before kickoff. Not only did what happened with Brissett not sit well with them, the fact that Patriots coaches were shoved by Bills players irked them as well.