Hats and t-shirts? 'Absolutely,' says Wilfork

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Hats and t-shirts? 'Absolutely,' says Wilfork

FOXBORO -- Sunday is what some like to call a "hat and t-shirt game" for the Patriots.
With a win in Miami over the Dolphins, New England can clinch the AFC East title. And as a result, they'll each receive a hat and a t-shirt that reads, "Division Champs."
At least one Patriot acknowledged that to be true, after Thursday's practice at Gillette Stadium.
"Hats and t-shirts, absolutely," said Vince Wilfork. "You kiddin' me?"
Wilfork says he gives those hats and t-shirts to his wife. But he also knows they won't be getting them without a win. Which is when the veteran defensive lineman got back into his Patriots mindset, saying that he won't be thinking about the implications of winning the division, entering Sunday's game.
"Not at all, not at all," said Wilfork. "We do a real good job about just taking it one game at a time out here. That's how we approach it. Every week we wanna win. I want to be undefeated every year, but it doesn't happen. But we never look at it like that. Take it one game at a time, but hopefully that one game at a time is good enough at the end."
A good 10 lockers down, to Wilfork's right, stood wide receiver Wes Welker. He said he's aware of a potential division title if they defeat the Dolphins, his former team.
"Absolutely," said Welker. "It shows you how big of a game it is. It's still early in the year, but this is a big game for us, and one that we really have to play well in and executing the way we need to, and playing the way we need to."
Meanwhile, all the way down the end of the locker room, to his right, stood linebacker Jerod Mayo. When he was asked about thinking of winning the division on Sunday, Mayo compared it to "any other game."
"We're approaching this game like any other game," said Mayo. "We're trying to win, obviously. And the guys are out there practicing hard, and all of our focus is on the Miami Dolphins.
"To be honest with you, we're just trying to take it one game at a time. Right now, all of our focus is on the Miami Dolphins. And they have a good team. This isn't a 'gimme' win by any means. All of our focus is on the Miami Dolphins."

Game notes: Celtics look to extend Kings’ Boston losing streak to nine

Game notes: Celtics look to extend Kings’ Boston losing streak to nine

BOSTON – Here are a few odds and ends to keep an eye on heading into tonight’s game against the Sacramento Kings: 
 
· The Celtics have won eight in a row over the Kings in Boston, with the last loss to Sacramento at the TD Garden coming on Jan. 19, 2007. Current Celtic Gerald Green was in the starting lineup that night. 

· Only six times in franchise history have the Celtics launched 38 or more 3-pointers in a game, four of which came in the month of November this season. 

· Speaking of 3-pointers, 36.2 percent of Boston’s shots are 3s. That ranks fifth in the league behind Houston, Cleveland, Brooklyn and Golden State.

· Don’t be surprised if Avery Bradley gets off to a good start tonight, especially from 3-point range. He’s shooting 59.1 percent on 3s in the first quarter which ranks second in the league. 

· Isaiah Thomas tallied 395 points scored in November, the most by a Celtic since John Havlicek had 406 points in November during the 1971-1972 season. 

· Boston leads the NBA in points scored (46.3 per game) by second-round picks. The Celtics’ second-round picks include Isaiah Thomas; Jae Crowder; Amir Johnson; Jonas Jerebko; Demetrius Jackson and Jordan Mickey.

· The Celtics are 5-0 this season when they outrebound an opponent. 

· Tonight’s game will be Boston’s fifth set of back-to-back games this season. In the first game, they are 3-1 this season. On the second night, they are 2-2.

Beyond the numbers: Kings offense will test Celtics defense

Beyond the numbers: Kings offense will test Celtics defense

BOSTON – When it comes to defense, the Celtics are quick to claim that it is indeed the foundation for which their team is built upon. 
 
Still, far too often this season, we have seen cracks in their usually Teflon-tough defense, the kind that ultimately means the difference between winning and losing.
 
The Celtics’ defense will once again need to step up and play well tonight against a Sacramento squad that has shown it can fill it up offensively of late. 
 
Sacramento (7-11) has scored 100 or more points in eight of their past 10 games. In that span, their 107.2 points per game ranks ninth in the league. 
 
In that same span, the Celtics have allowed opponents to score 100.3 points per game, which ranks 10th in the NBA in fewest points allowed.
 
And when it comes to winning, limiting teams to less than 100 points has been huge in Boston’s win total. 
 
The Celtics have held eight opponents to 100 points or less this season. 
 
Their record in those games? 8-0.
 
Within that limited scoring, Boston must also make sure teams don’t get into a nice groove shooting the ball. 
 
Boston is 0-5 this season when an opponent shoots 48 percent or better from the field. 
 
While there are several things Boston must do to be successful, having the right kind of defensive disposition ranks at or near the top of that list in their efforts to play with the kind of defensive success that gave so many hope that this would the year Boston would hold court among the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

“We have to get a little more nastier on the defensive end and not let a team come in and get comfortable,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder.