Celtics-Warriors review: Rondo not an excuse for C's

972231.jpg

Celtics-Warriors review: Rondo not an excuse for C's

OAKLAND, Calif. Not having Rajon Rondo gives the Boston Celtics a convenient out for Saturday night's 101-83 blowout loss at Golden State.

But truthfully, having Rondo would not have helped much when the Celtics played so poorly in so many different phases of the game.

It was a typical Celtics game with contributions - some good but mostly bad - coming from an assortment of players.

"Our problem all year has been the same problem," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "It's not everybody; it's two or three guys. It's all you need. And it's not the same guys. That's what has been so frustrating about this season."

Here's a review of some of the keys identified prior to tip-off as the Celtics suffer their second straight loss which drops them below .500 for the first time since Nov. 9.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Rajon Rondo needs to put his imprint on this game for the Celtics to be successful. That means doing what he does best - getting assists. The league's top assist man has failed to reach double digits in five of the Celtics' last six games.

WHAT WE SAW: Rondo's imprint was nowhere to be found during the game because Rondo (right hip) was a late scratch. While Doc Rivers doesn't think Rondo's injury is too serious, the 6-foot-1 point guard is questionable for Sunday's game at Sacramento.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett vs David Lee: Garnett has been solid as ever, but Lee has been on another level all season. In Golden State's win over Philadelphia on Friday, Lee had 25 points and 12 rebonds for his 13th 20-point, 10-rebound game this season - tops in the NBA.

WHAT WE SAW: This one wasn't even close, as Lee dominated Garnett in every way imaginable. Lee had more points. He grabbed more rebounds. But most important, he made a greater impact. Garnett's presence was simply a non-factor for most of the game.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Courtney Lee continues to gradually improve as the season goes on, but he still hasn't had that one defining moment-type game for the Celtics. They could use one tonight against a Golden State team that has quality scorers on the perimeter that he will have to contend with, in addition to a team that's playing solid defense.

WHAT WE SAW: Lee had a chance to play more with Rondo out, and to his credit he made the most of it. He was able to get more shots and responded with a season-high 18 points. But his contributions weren't nearly enough to keep the C's close, let alone position them to actually have a shot at winning.

STAT TO TRACK: The Celtics once again face a team whose strength will pose an even greater challenge to what has been the C's biggest weakness this season - rebounding. The Warriors are the league's fifth-best rebounding team this season while the Celtics maintain their position as the league's worst on the boards.

WHAT WE SAW: The rebounding battle was relatively close, but considering how well the Warriors shot all game and how the C's struggled with its shots, rebounding was never really a major contributor to the game's outcome one way or another.

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.