Rivers: Celtics' veteran experience is deceiving


Rivers: Celtics' veteran experience is deceiving

CHICAGO With a slew of veterans with varying levels of experience, the Boston Celtics have the appearance of a veteran team.

But as Celtics coach Doc Rivers points out, there's more to having a veteran team than simply throwing together a bunch of guys who have been around the NBA block a few times.

"Where I think people get mixed up, there's a difference between a veteran team and a lot of veterans on a team," Rivers said. "This is not a veteran team. This team hasn't been together."

That is quite apparent in their up-and-down play that has them at just 12-11 heading into Wednesday's game against a red-hot Chicago Bulls team that comes into tonight's game at Memphis having won five of their last six games.

With so many new faces, Rivers was optimistic that they would develop a good rhythm about their play quickly.

But more than a quarter of the way through this season, it's clear that has not happened yet.

Rivers pointed to fatigue as a potential factor in the team's play following Saturday's loss at San Antonio.

While players did indeed look a step or two slow most of the game, Rivers is more concerned with the Celtics being worn down mentally rather than physically being tired.

The team watched video from the loss at San Antonio prior to practice on Monday, with Rivers acknowledging that many of the miscues they made in the Spurs loss had more to do with them simply not being as strong as they need to be mentally.

That was at the heart of why they could get close to the Spurs but consistently failed to get over the hump either with a score, a rebound or a defensive stop, that was needed.

When teams are out of shape physically, having them run more usually does the trick.

But mental fatigue? That's a tricky one, for sure.

"You work on habits, you have to improve your habits," Rivers said. "We see it on film. We'll do it. And then we never sustain it."

Said Brandon Bass: "We know what we need to do. We just need to keep on doing it for longer stretches, that's all."

The Dallas Mavericks are in some ways like the Celtics in terms of adding a lot of new faces to their roster this season.

And like Boston, they too have not had the kind of early-season success they are used to.

The injury to Dirk Nowitzki has certainly been a factor in them not getting off to the best of starts. But coach Rick Carlisle would be remiss if he didn't acknowledge that having a lot of new faces -- even if they have prior NBA experience -- only adds to the learning curve needed in order to be a team that plays consistently.

"It just takes time," Carlisle told CSNNE.com. "I know fans don't like to hear that, but it's true. Obviously every team is different. But the better teams out there will figure it out sooner or later. And Boston is one of those teams."

Randy Moss: Roger Goodell is 'biggest reason' for NFL's problems

Randy Moss: Roger Goodell is 'biggest reason' for NFL's problems

With the NFL facing more PR issues by the day, Randy Moss has identified what he feels is wrong with a league that can’t seem to stay out of trouble.

In wake of the Josh Brown situation, which saw the NFL blame the King County (Wash.) Sheriff’s Office for the lack of initial punishment given to the Giants kicker for domestic violence, Moss said on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown that commissioner Roger Goodell is the league’s biggest problem. 

“[This is] a bad time to show up now, breast cancer awareness month where we’re supporting the women, and then you come up with this Josh Brown, where it doesn’t seem like we are supporting women,” Moss said. “I think the NFL needs to take a deep look. I think the owners are mad, and Roger Goodell, he is the biggest reason to all of this stuff that’s fallen downhill with the NFL. I have to agree with that.”

Brown was initially given a one-game suspension for violating the league’s conduct policy stemming from his 2015 fourth-degree domestic violence charge. On Friday, the 37-year-old was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list. 

Steelers know they'll have their hands full with Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett


Steelers know they'll have their hands full with Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett

PITTSBURGH – So far this season, Martellus Bennett and Rob Gronkowski have combined for 39 catches, 644 yards and five touchdowns. Making the numbers that much more impressive is the fact the numbers were rolled up with Gronk inactive for two games and fairly useless in another thanks to his hamstring injury.

Will the Steelers slow the roll of Robellus Grennetski?

Hard to imagine. As Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette points out, Gronk alone has tuned up the Steelers with 26 receptions for 403 yards and seven touchdowns in six meetings.

Fittipaldo explored the strategies the Steelers defense may unveil Sunday afternoon when the Patriots and Steelers get going. He also pointed out that the return of linebacker Ryan Shazier after a three week layoff and injuries for safeties Mike Mitchell and Robert Golden may put Pittsburgh at a disadvantage.

Said Shazier: “They have the tandem they want at tight end. Now they can use tight ends the way they want. You have to respect everyone on the field. Both of them are good blockers, good pass threats and great at running after the catch.”

Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler said Pittsburgh will alter its approaches.

“We have to be able to play more than one defense,” Butler said. “They’re very good and they’ll pick you apart if they can figure out what you’re doing. We just have to execute the defense more than anything else. If we can do that … that’s been our problem for the most part. Some of the things that went on last week, we missed some things we should have made mentally.”

What “went on last week” was a 30-15 loss to the Dolphins.

Pittsburgh hasn’t been a big-play group so far -- eight sacks and three picks -- nor have they seen a gauntlet of great quarterbacks in the first six games. 

Interestingly, their losses have been to Ryan Tannehill and rookie Carson Wentz, probably the two quarterbacks one would figure Pittsburgh would do best against.
Between a smoking hot Brady and a can’t-be-stopped tight end tandem, there’s probably not a lot Pittsburgh can do aside from hoping for an off day.

Said linebacker Arthur Moats hopefully: “You have to continue to mix it up against (Gronkowski). You can’t give him the same look over and over. He has success on guys like that. If we disrupt him, and rush Brady and speed up his clock, I definitely think that will help out.”

In theory, perhaps. In practice? We’ll see.