Patriots prepare for Round 2 of Texans' Watt

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Patriots prepare for Round 2 of Texans' Watt

FOXBORO -- All eyes will be on J.J. Watt Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

Watt didn't have the game he would have liked to have the last time these two teams faced each other in December. And the Patriots realize he'll be hungry for another shot in the playoffs.

"Hes a force on every play," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick on Friday. "That guy can, no matter what play you have called, he can ruin it. Hes good at the point of attack. He makes a lot of plays on the backside, disrupts the ball, strip-sacks, fumbles, caused fumbles, batted balls. Hes an excellent pass rusher, hes quick, hes powerful, hes very long, he has good technique, gets off on the ball well. Hes a tough matchup against really anybody. He runs games well. He has a lot of ability, hes well coached and he has good technique. He plays hard. Like I said, hes really a factor on every play."

So how do you contain him twice in one season?

"I dont know how you can put more than one guy on him very often," said Belichick. "You have to block the other guys too. You have to block Antonio Smith, you have to block Shaun Cody, you have to block Brooks Reed, you have to block Connor Barwin, you have to block Bradie James. Who is blocking them? Somebody has to block them. You cant put three guys on Watt and cut everybody else loose. I dont think thats the answer. Whoever has to block him has to block him.

"But I think the way that they play, hell get matched up against everybody sooner or later -- the right tackle, the right guard, the center, the left guard, the left tackle. Weve watched a lot of their games. Ive seen everybody have to block him -- tight ends at times depending on what the play is or the protection. They stunt him a lot. He might line up on one side of the ball, but hell twist to the other side on certain calls, certain plays. I think everybody has to be ready for him."

Even the running backs.

"J.J. Watt's an exceptional player," said Patriots running back Stevan Ridley. "And we have to have some hats on him every down, every play, throughout the game, because he's a playmaker. And so, for us, if it's coming out of the backfield, catching him on the way out, running routes, whatever we have to do. We've got to get away from him, put two hats on him, make sure he's blocked, make sure he's covered up. Because he's the leader of their defense. If he gets momentum, we're going to have trouble on that.

"I might have to put a hat on him, man," added Ridley. "I mean, he's going to be causing chaos out there. But I have faith in our offensive line. They're going to do a great job. Buy hey, if they need us to help, that's what a team's for. We'll come through.

Kevin Durant's future a mystery as OKC collapses

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Kevin Durant's future a mystery as OKC collapses

OAKLAND, Calif. - As Stephen Curry dribbled out the clock in a raucous Oracle Arena, Kevin Durant could only stand and watch.

The Golden State Warriors are heading back to the NBA Finals, while Durant's future in Oklahoma City is much less certain.

Two nights after blowing an opportunity to close out the defending champion Warriors at home, the Thunder got sent home for the summer when they lost Game 7 of the Western Conference finals 96-88 on Monday night.

Instead of becoming known as the team that knocked off the Warriors after their record-setting 73-win regular season, the Thunder will be remembered for a playoff collapse. They became just the 10th NBA team to lose a playoff series after taking a 3-1 lead and now head into an uncertain offseason with Durant eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

If he does leave the only franchise he has played for in his nine-year career, he will do it having failed to deliver the championship to Oklahoma City. The closest the Thunder have gotten in Durant's tenure was when they lost the NBA Finals in five games to LeBron James and the Miami Heat in 2012.

They then lost in the second round the next season, in the conference finals in 2014 to San Antonio before missing the playoffs entirely because of an injury to Durant last year.

But under first-year coach Billy Donovan, Oklahoma City earned the third seed in the top-heavy Western Conference this season and then upset 67-win San Antonio in the second round. The Thunder followed that by winning three of the first four games against the Warriors, with a pair of lopsided wins at home.

But after losing Game 5 on the road, the Thunder blew an opportunity to eliminate the Warriors at home on Saturday night. Oklahoma City led by seven points with less than five minutes remaining but made only one basket and committed six turnovers down the stretch of a 108-101 loss that could haunt the franchise for years.

The Thunder responded on the road in Game 7 by taking a 13-point lead in the second quarter. But once Curry and Klay Thompson started hitting Oklahoma City with a flurry of 3-pointers, the Thunder had no answer. The Splash Brothers combined for 13 3-pointers as Golden State outscored Oklahoma City by 30 points from behind the line.

Oklahoma City's stars were no match. Russell Westbrook missed 14 of 21 from the field and shot just 36.8 percent in the three potential clinchers. Durant finished with 27 points but took only 10 shots in the first three quarters.

Durant did score seven straight points to cut an 11-point deficit to four with 1:40 remaining. But Serge Ibaka then fouled Curry on a 3-pointer with the shot clock running down, allowing Golden State to build the lead back to seven.

Durant then missed two shots and could only stare blankly when Curry ended Oklahoma City's season with a 3-pointer with 26.8 seconds left. Now the Thunder can only hope it doesn't end Durant's tenure in Oklahoma City as well.