Pats coordinators give early look at Texans

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Pats coordinators give early look at Texans

Monday night is the game many have had highlighted on their schedule all season. So with the 11-1 Houston Texans coming to town next, it's time to look at what the Patriots' initial impressions are of the top seed in the AFC.

Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels knows it will be a challenge, and went out of his way to describe just how much of a threat defensive end J.J. Watt will be.

"This is an aggressive team that plays physical, tough defense," said McDaniels in a conference call on Monday. "I think they play fast. They play very hard up front, and do a lot of really good things with their front three or four . . . I don't think it's a stretch to say that this is going to be a big challenge for us. They have talented players at every level of their defense, and they're obviously very well coached. So we're going to have to do a great job of preparing for them this week.

"With J.J. Watt, obviously he's having a great year, and he's a great player no matter where they line him up. The fact that they move him a little bit inside and outside, we're going to have to have more than one guy ready to handle him and block him. It won't just fall to the guard or to the tackle. It could be anybody at times, based on the way they're playing. So we have to do a great job of trying to simulate his effort, his motor, some of the things he does to disrupt people in the running game, the passing game. And we have to make sure we're very mindful of taking care of the football, and not letting him get his hands on balls, because he's certainly creating a lot of disruptive opportunities for them defensively, by tipping the ball and batting the ball in the air. We've got a ton of respect for him."

On the other side of the football, Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia expressed his concerns with Houston's "balanced" offensive attack.

"You're talking about a very balanced, very well-put-together offense," he said on Monday. "Between the run and the pass, and with a quarterback that is obviously a talented player that is really doing a phenomenal job running the system that they run.

"I think the biggest thing for us, obviously, is trying to figure out how to stop this running game, which is a critical part to what they do, along with passing abilities that they have. Their tight ends are extremely good, and they use all of them. There are very talented players there. Obviously, Andre Johnson is a phenomenal player for them outside . . . I think its a very balanced offense just from the standpoint that the quarterback will get the ball to the appropriate receiver based on coverage or based on read for that particular play so hes not always targeting one guy. Hes going to try to get the ball to the open receiver and thats really what makes it difficult in the passing game and then what we talked about with the running game with these two backs that have potential for big plays at any given time if they see any crack in the defense, they really have the ability to hurt you with that. The main point of emphasis is going to do a really good job with the fundamentals here and make sure that we play good, solid team defense and being able to stop the run and the passing game and hopefully handle the guys up front to the best of our ability and try to do a good job there."

All-Star backcourt leads Raptors down stretch to beat Celtics, 101-94

All-Star backcourt leads Raptors down stretch to beat Celtics, 101-94

BOSTON – With Isaiah Thomas, the Boston Celtics would have had their hands full trying to defeat the Toronto Raptors. 

But without him (right groin injury) and his 26.0 points and 6.2 assists, an already daunting task became that much harder. 

The Celtics played a good game, but against Toronto and their All-Star backcourt it just wasn’t enough as the Raptors did just enough in the fourth to hold off Boston for a 101-94 win. 

A 3-pointer by Marcus Smart brought the Celtics within 95-91 and following a defensive stop they had a chance to make it a one-possession game. 

But Jae Crowder’s 3-pointer rattled in and out of the rim. 

And on the ensuing possession, Al Horford was called for a foul while defending Kyle Lowry on a 3-point attempt with 30.6 seconds to play. 

Lowry's play down the stretch was indicative of the problems Boston had with the all-star guard all game. 

He finished with a game-high 34 points, 14 of which came in the third quarter which is when Toronto took over.

His All-Star backcourt mate DeMar DeRozan, ranked among the NBA’s top-5 scorers, had 24 points for the Raptors.

Meanwhile the Celtics were still trying to replace leading scorer Isaiah Thomas’ 26 points and 6.2 assists per game. 

Boston didn’t need one player to fill that void, but rather a collective effort by all the players to do what they normally do, only better. 

But that did not happen on Friday; not even close. 

In the fourth quarter, the Celtics would score and make a play defensively which then put them in position to score as well as get the crowd hyped. 

They consistently came up short until Avery Bradley drained a 3-pointer with less than three minutes to play that cut Toronto’s lead to 91-87.

He would finish with 19 points, sharing team-high scoring honors with Al Horford.

Raptors head coach Dwane Casey called a time-out with 2:53 to play. 

Boston was unable to get any closer for the remainder of the game, a game in which the Celtics led by as many as 14 points in the third quarter. 

However, the Raptors chipped away and eventually regained the lead with a 15-2 run capped off by a 3-pointer by Patrick Patterson that put the Raptors ahead 63-62. 

Toronto’s momentum continued as they closed out the quarter with a 12-6 spurt which gave them a 75-68 lead going into the fourth quarter. 

Despite spending the entire fourth quarter trailing, the Celtics continued to battle but it was to no avail as the Raptors executed at a high level at both ends of the floor to secure the win which was their eighth victory in their last nine games. 

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics go on second-quarter run

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics go on second-quarter run

BOSTON – The Celtics used a blistering run in the second quarter to propel them to a 50-42 lead over the Toronto Raptors after two quarters of play. 

It was the second straight game the Celtics had to play without their leading scorer Isaiah Thomas who remains out indefinitely with a right groin injury. 

As was the case in Boston’s 30-point win at Orlando, Avery Bradley took it upon himself to pick up some of the scoring slack as he leads the Celtics with 13 points at the half. 

Boston also got strong play in the first half from Al Horford who set the tone with a pair of 3’s in the first few minutes of the game. He would score eight first-half points to go with three rebounds. 

And then there was the Celtics bench seemingly picking up where they left off in Orlando.

Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier were once again making their impact early and often as they scored seven and four points, respectively. 

The game was relatively close until Boston, leading 32-31, went on a 14-0 run.

But the Raptors, once again among the top teams in the East, were able to outscore Boston 11-5 the rest of the second quarter which cut Boston’s led at the half down to eight points.

Here’s a look at the first half Stars, Studs and Duds from tonight’s game. 

 

STARS

Avery Bradley

Showing some serious two-way game tonight, Bradley was scoring the ball well in addition to doing a better-than-average job defensively on DeMar DeRozan. At the half, Bradley had 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting with three rebounds and two assists.

Kyle Lowry

He’s an All-Star but this kid doesn’t get enough credit for his talent. The Celtics had problems with him for large chunks of the first half as he led all Toronto scorers with 13 points on 5-for-8 shooting.

 

STUDS

Jaylen Brown

Very active at both ends of the floor, making the most of his chance to see extended minutes. At the half he had seven points along with two rebounds.

Kelly Olynyk

This was one of the more active games we’ve seen Olynyk play in, especially when it came to rebounding. At the half he had five points and seven rebounds. 

Norman Powell

He helped Toronto get off to a solid start, and finished the half with seven points. 

 

DUDS

DeMar DeRozan

He had eight points at the half, but the Celtics made him work a lot harder for it than he’s used to as DeRozan shot just 4-for-12 from the field.