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."

WATCH: Celtics vs. Hornets

WATCH: Celtics vs. Hornets

Tune into CSN to watch the Celtics host the Hornets at TD Garden. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by McDonald's on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

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Celtics-Hornets preview: Boston, Charlotte heading in opposite directions

Celtics-Hornets preview: Boston, Charlotte heading in opposite directions

BOSTON -- The last time Boston saw the Charlotte Hornets last month, both teams were streaking in the wrong direction with each coming in having lost three in a row.

Both come into tonight’s game streaking, although in two very different directions.

Boston (25-15) has won 12 of its last 15 games to firmly establish itself as the third-best team in the East behind Cleveland and Toronto. Meanwhile the Hornets (20-20) are on the cusp of falling below .500 for the first time this season after losing their last four games.

Still, Celtics coach Brad Stevens has seen enough of this Hornets team to know that a win tonight won’t come easily.

“This is a good team,” Stevens said. “We all know Charlotte. They don’t beat themselves. We’ve had to play really well against those guys. This is going to be a tough one, as we all know.”

Figuring out why these two teams are trending in opposite directions isn’t all that complicated.

For the Celtics, their success of late has hinged heavily on their ability to make 3-pointers. Meanwhile, Charlotte’s problems have had a lot to do with a tough slate of road games (all four of their recent losses were on the road) and their inability to make shots which has been an issue in some form for them all season regardless of the opponent.

Look at the last four games, all of which the Hornets lost while the Celtics won three of their four games in that span.

The Hornets rank 21st in scoring with a 101.5 points per game average while the Celtics average 110.8 points which ranks 8th in the league.

Charlotte ranks dead-last in the league the last four games when it comes to shooting the ball (40.5 percent), while Boston comes in 18th at 46.0 percent.

But it’s the 3-point shot and its impact on having an effective field goal percentage, that really separates these two.

Boston has averaged a league-best 15.3 made 3-pointers in the last four games while the Hornets and their 9.8 made 3’s ranks 20th.

And as far as its impact on eFG%, Boston comes in with the eighth-best eFG% in the league (54.8 percent) while the Hornets next-to-last in the NBA with an eFG% of .462.

So what does that mean tonight?

Boston will look to continue being fueled offensively by good ball movement and attacking the rim which in turn should result in lots of good looks from 3-point range which is clearly a strength of this team.

Charlotte will search for other sources of offense besides former UConn star Kemba Walker who is on the short list of candidates for a spot on this year’s Eastern Conference all-star roster.

As was the case in Charlotte’s 102-93 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, an off-night shooting for Walker (17 points, 7-for-23 shooting with three assists) left the Hornets extremely vulnerable to defeat. Similar struggles tonight will provide a similar ending for Charlotte which would allow both teams to continue streaking along … something the Celtics wouldn’t mind at all.