Mankins happy to be healthy for this year's playoffs

938155.jpg

Mankins happy to be healthy for this year's playoffs

FOXBORO -- Logan Mankins wiped the sweat from his forehead with the sleeve of his gray hooded sweatshirt. He was fresh from practice and a little worn out, but not beaten down. The grind of the regular season this was not.

"This is what you play for," Mankins said. "These are the games we wanna be in. It's always easy to go to practice when you're preparing for a game like this. It makes it nice. You wanna get better. You wanna prepare and do your best to win these games."

What makes the preparation for Sunday's Divisional Round playoff game against the Texans extra special for Mankins is that he's relatively healthy. It's been a difficult season for the left guard because of time he has lost to injuries. He missed six games with ankle and calf injuries, and he reiterated on Thursday that he was not quite 100 percent to start the season after undergoing offseason knee surgery.

"I missed some games, of course it's been tough," Mankins said. "You'd like to be healthy for the whole season, but it doesn't always go that way."

He has overcome those lingering dings, though, and he says he is healthier now than he was at this time last year.

"I felt a lot better than last year at this time," he said. "I had a torn MCL, and a torn ACL, so I feel a lot better."

Though few knew it at the time, Mankins showed mind-boggling toughness when he played through torn knee ligaments last season, including New England's run to Super Bowl XLVI. That he won't have to deal with such a serious injury this year should make this year's playoffs -- his seventh postseason appearance in eight season with the Patriots -- significantly more comfortable.

The Patriots will need all of their offensive linemen at something close to full strength on Sunday in order to help keep a talented Texans defensive line, featuring star defensive lineman JJ Watt, at bay.

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Rose looking like his old self

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Rose looking like his old self

BOSTON – The New York Knicks have been in a massive funk of late, something the Boston Celtics had to know which, not surprisingly, would result in them playing with a heightened level of desperation.

That desperation left the Celtics a bit exasperated at the half which ended with a 10-2 run by New York that put them ahead 63-54 at the half.

After falling behind by as many as nine points in the second quarter, the Celtics rallied to within a single point (53-52) following a basket by Isaiah Thomas.

The second quarter was all-New York afterwards.

It was just a one-possession game (Boston led 34-31) for the Celtics going into the second quarter, which was exactly where Boston didn’t want to be against a Knicks team whose bench ranks among the NBA’s highest-scoring second units recently. In their last three games, the Knicks’ bench has averaged 43.0 points per game which according to hoopsstats.com, ranks sixth in the NBA during that span.

At the half, they had 33 points compared to just 12 for Boston’s backups.

Boston fell behind early 9-5, but the Celtics rallied following a time-out with a 15-4 run capped off by a 3-pointer from Isaiah Thomas.

The Celtics’ lead peaked at nine points on separate occasions in the first, but the Knicks closed out the first with a 12-6 spurt that cut Boston’s lead to 34-31 at the end of the first.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half.

 

STARS

Derrick Rose

The former league MVP looked like his old self tonight instead of just old. He led the Knicks with 14 points on 7-for-11 shooting.

Isaiah Thomas

The Knicks had great success inside the paint against all the Celtics minus Thomas who did much of his dirty work offensively on drives to the basket. At the half he had 19 points on 8-for-10 shooting.

 

STUDS

Willy Hernangomez

Boston had problems rebounding the ball, and Hernangomez was the main reason why. At the half he had 10 points and six rebounds, three of which were offensive boards.

Jae Crowder

Dealing with Carmelo Anthony is enough to keep Crowder busy tonight. But he’s doing that at a high level in addition to providing a nice punch offensively with 14 points.

Mindaugas Kuzminskas

You may not know his name, but his game was pretty impressive in the first half. At the half, he had nine points.

 

DUDS

Al Horford

We’ve seen him air-ball a 3-pointer, miss a lay-up and strguggle to get any shots to go down tonight. At the half, he had three points while missing nine of his 10 shot attempts.

Avery Bradley (Achilles) will not play vs. Knicks

avery-bradley.jpg

Avery Bradley (Achilles) will not play vs. Knicks

BOSTON – Both New York and Boston will take to the floor tonight minus a starter courtesy of a sore Achilles injury.

For Celtics guard Avery Bradley, tonight will be the fifth time in the last six games that his right Achilles injury will keep him sidelined.

Meanwhile, New York’s Kristaps Porzingis will miss his fourth straight game with a sore left Achilles injury.

The 7-foot-3 Porzingis averages 19.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.

Porzingis’ absence tonight was established well before tip-off.

“I’d say I’m 90 percent ready; still not there yet,” Porzingis told reporters prior to the game. “But I’m getting closer … hopefully the next game or after the next game.”

As far as Bradley is concerned, he was a last-minute matter.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was asked about his roster earlier tonight, and indicated Tyler Zeller (sinus) and James Young (ankle) would be on the inactive list tonight with injuries.

Without Bradley, the Celtics are expected to start Marcus Smart who has filled in as the team’s starter previously when the 6-foot-2 Bradley was unavailable.

 Bradley is the Celtics' second-leading scorer with 17.7 points per game this season, along with a team-high 6.9 rebounds per game and 2.4 assists.