Doc on Stern ruling vs. Spurs

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Doc on Stern ruling vs. Spurs

BOSTON Doc Rivers was no different than most when the news came that the NBA was hitting the San Antonio Spurs with a 250,000 fine for the Spurs' sending four starters home prior to playing the Miami Heat on Thursday.

The result here is dictated by the totality of the facts in this case," NBA commissioner David Stern said in a statement released on Friday. "The Spurs decided to make four of their top players unavailable for an early-season game that was the teams only regular-season visit to Miami. The team also did this without informing the Heat, the media, or the league office in a timely way. Under these circumstances, I have concluded that the Spurs did a disservice to the league and our fans.

Rivers understands where Commissioner Stern is coming from on his ruling.

That doesn't mean he likes it.

"I don't like it," Rivers said. "You gotta coach your team to win in the long run. You have to do whatever you need to do. If that's sitting players, you sit players. It's a tough one."

It's not uncommon for teams to sit some of their core players near the end of the season, giving them some rest before what teams hope will be a long playoff run.

But veteran teams like the Spurs as well as the Celtics, tend to find ways to rest their players during various intervals during the season.

Rivers said this decision by the league won't change the way Boston approaches whether to play or rest players.

"We'll do it when we want to do it," Rivers said. "And we should be able to do it. It can be early in the season, end of the season. Now if we give a guy off because he has a family thing there's just so many things here. Hopefully we all will figure it out."

Rivers added, "Whatever is going to help your team win, a coach has got to do. If you don't and it hurts your team, then you're the one that won't be around. So whatever is best for the team."

Raiders creep past Patriots in race for top seed in AFC

Raiders creep past Patriots in race for top seed in AFC

The Patriots and Raiders and neck-and-neck as the race for home field in the AFC turns for home. And, with four games left, the Raiders are ahead by a nose. The tiebreakers between the 10-2 teams in play currently? Common games followed by strength of victory. 

The first tiebreaker – conference record – is a deadlock as both teams are 7-1 in the AFC (the Brady-less Patriots lost to the Bills back in Week 4.

After conference record, it's the teams record in common games. 

PATRIOTS 26, RAMS 10

So far in common games with the Texans and Bills, the Patriots have gone 2-1 and the Raiders have gone 2-0. The Patriots play the Ravens next week. Oakland beat them. The Patriots play Denver after that. Oakland beat them as well but have one more game against Denver in Week 17.

So if it comes down to common games the Patriots really need to win these next two games.

Or hope the Raiders stub their toe a time or two in their final four games which are at the Chiefs, Chargers and Broncos with a home game against Indy in Week 16.

As for strength of victory, that too goes to Oakland at this point. The Raiders’ strength of victory is at .471. The Patriots’ is at .370.

But the tiebreaker that kicks in after conference record and before strength of victory – common games – is very much unresolved.The remaining picture as it stands right now? The Ravens are the No. 3 seed with a 7-5 record that leads the AFC North. The Texans’ 6-6 record is good enough to lead the AFC South. The 9-3 Chiefs are the top Wild Card. The 8-4 Broncos are the No. 6 seed.

The Patriots play the Ravens and Broncos over the next two weeks. Currently, the Dolphins (7-5) and Steelers (7-5) are on the outside looking in.

The Titans (6-6) will have a chance to get even with the Texans in Week 17 in head-to-head matchups but they host Denver and play at Kansas City the next two weeks so they have obstacles to clear before they get there.

AFC PLAYOFF RACE: Steelers end Giants' winning streak at 6 in 24-14 victory

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AFC PLAYOFF RACE: Steelers end Giants' winning streak at 6 in 24-14 victory

PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Steelers ended the New York Giants' winning streak with a familiar formula.

Ben Roethlisberger passed for 289 yards and two touchdowns, Le'Veon Bell rolled up 182 yards of total offense, and Pittsburgh's resurgent defense harassed Eli Manning into a flurry of mistakes in a dominant 24-14 win on Sunday.

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