Game info: Patriots vs. Texans

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Game info: Patriots vs. Texans

GAME TIME: 4:30 p.m. EST

TV NETWORK: CBS

TV ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz and Phil Simms

RADIO NETWORK: Anchored by WBZ-FM (98.5 The Sports Hub)

RADIO ANNOUNCERS: Gil Santos and Scott Zolak

ALL-TIME SERIES BETWEEN THE TEAMS: Patriots lead, 3-1

LAST MEETING: Patriots 42, Texans 12 at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 10, 2012

New England has qualified for the playoffs 20 times in its 53-year history. The Pats have won 15 division crowns, including 10 in the last 12 seasons, and have qualified as a Wild Card team on four occasions (1976, 1985, 1994, and 1998). The Patriots also qualified for the playoffs in 1982 as part of a 16-team tournament following a players strike.

The Patriots have compiled a 23-16 record in their 39 playoff games and their .589 playoff winning percentage is the third best in NFL history among teams that have played at least 10 playoff games.

The Patriots are 13-3 at home in the playoffs in their history.

The Patriots have compiled a 9-6 all-time record in divisional playoff games, including 6-2 at home and 4-1 at Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots have an all-time record of 82-47-1 (.635) against AFC South teams, the only division in which the Patriots have winning records against each team. They are 23-16-1 against Tennessee, 47-29 against Indianapolis, 9-1 against Jacksonville and 3-1 against Houston.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Bill Belichick (17) needs one more postseason victory to move ahead of Joe Gibbs for sole possession of third place all-time in postseason wins. Tom Landry (20) is in first place, followed by Don Shula (19).

Tom Brady (16) needs one more postseason victory to break a tie with Joe Montana (16) for most playoff wins by a starting quarterback in NFL history.

Brady has played in 22 playoff games with the Patriots and needs to play in one more to break a tie with Tedy Bruschi for most playoff games by a Patriots player.

Brady (39) needs seven more postseason touchdowns passes to move past Joe Montana (45) and Brett Favre (44) for the all-time lead.

Brady (5,285) needs 571 postseason yards to set the all-time NFL record for most postseason yards. Brett Favre (5,855), Joe Montana (5,772) and Peyton Manning (5,679) are currently ahead of Brady.

Brady (5) needs to play in one more Super Bowl to match DL Mike Lodish, who played in six (four with Buffalo and two with Denver).

Deion Branch (54) needs five receptions in the postseason to pass Troy Brown (58) for the most career playoff receptions in franchise history. Wes Welker (53) needs six more receptions to pass Brown.

Welker (438) needs 257 postseason receiving yards to move past Troy Brown (694) into second place all-time on the franchise list of postseason receiving yards, behind Branch (836).

Both Millers missing from Bruins practice, but trending toward return

Both Millers missing from Bruins practice, but trending toward return

BRIGHTON, Mass – While both Kevan Miller and Colin Miller were missing from Bruins practice on Saturday morning, both injured Bruins defensemen could be rejoining the team soon.

Colin Miller skated on his own prior to Saturday’s team practice at Warrior Ice Arena for the second or third time since suffering a lower body injury in the win over the St. Louis Blues. Claude Julien said his presence on the ice was proof that the puck-moving defenseman is “definitely on the mend”, and could be nearing a return to practice soon with Sunday marking the sixth straight game that he’ll have missed.

Kevan Miller is out with a concussion suffered last weekend in the win over the Philadelphia Flyers, and the B’s current three-game losing streak has coincided with his absence from the lineup.

Julien said Miller has actually been away from the team for the last couple of days while dealing with a virus, and that his recovery from the concussion symptoms was good prior to being knocked down by the illness.

“Kevan was actually feeling really well and then he got hit by a virus that’s kept him in bed for the last two days,” said Julien. “It’s nothing to do with his original injury. There was a possibility he could have been ready very soon, but that’s set him back a bit.”

Both are obviously out for Sunday’s matinee against the Penguins, but a return to practice at some point next week seems like a good bet for both players. Here are the line combos and defense pairings from Saturday’s practice with the Bruins focusing on getting a good result in Pittsburgh with the hockey club on a “mom’s trip” with 22 of the players’ mothers traveling with the team to and from the game:

Marchand-Bergeron-Vatrano

Schaller-Krejci-Pastrnak

Spooner-Nash-Backes/Hayes

Blidh/Beleskey-Moore-Czarnik

 

Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

Morrow-Liles

 

Rask

McIntyre

Fast-break points aren't necessarily a good thing for Celtics

Fast-break points aren't necessarily a good thing for Celtics

BOSTON – Conventional NBA wisdom tells you that getting out to score in transition is a good thing, usually serving as easy points scored, which is what every team wants, right?
 
But bundles of transition points have been nothing but trouble for the Celtics this season.
 
They are coming off a game against the New York Knicks in which they scored 22 fast-break points, which was their second-best showing this season. But the final score, a 117-106 loss, wasn’t all that unusual from what has happened this season when their transition game has generated a decent amount of scoring.
 
Boston has a 2-6 record this season when they score 16 or more fast-break points. On the nights when Boston’s fast-break offense generates 10 or fewer points?
 
They’re 11-5.
 
While there are several possible reasons why this is, here’s what you have to remember.
 
The Celtics are a ball-movement, 3-point shooting team.
 
Often that means they’ll pass up potential shots in transition, to instead work the ball around from one side of the floor to the other, until they get what they deem is the best shot to take (usually it’s a lightly contested to wide open 3-pointer).
 
The Celtics average 329.6 passes per game, which ranks second in the NBA (Philadelphia, 354.8). Not surprisingly, that has led to them ranking among the league’s leaders in assists (24.9, third in the NBA).
 
And that has led to Boston being ranked among the top-3 in several other key passing statistics, such as secondary assists (7.1, 2nd in the NBA); potential assists (49.5, 2nd); and assists points created (60.8, 3rd);
 
Here are a few more stats to crunch on, courtesy of CSN Associate Producer Andy Levine.
 
PAINT BY NUMBERS: When the Celtics score 40 percent or less of their points in the paint, they are 19-5 this season. When Boston gets 40 percent or more of its points in the paint, they are just 7-11.
 
BROWN IN THE FOURTH: Jaylen Brown has been among the better rookies this season, especially in the fourth quarter. Among rookies who played in at least 20 games in the fourth quarter, Brown is second in fourth quarter shooting at 54.9 percent. With those same standards, he’s sixth in shooting 3’s in the fourth at 38.5 percent.
 
CROWDER BOUNCES BACK: The past four games has seemingly brought out the best in Crowder. In that span, he has averaged 18.5 points and 6.8 rebounds while shooting 57 percent from the field and 48 percent from 3-point range. Crowder’s 3-point shooting of late has elevated him to seventh in the league while connecting on 42.5 percent of his 3-point attempts (minimum 150 attempts).

OUCH! It has not been a smooth start for Evan Turner with his new team, the Portland Trail Blazers. This season, Turner’s plus/minus is -234, which is the fourth-worst plus/minus in the NBA.