Rivers on DeRozan: "He's a total basketball player"

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Rivers on DeRozan: "He's a total basketball player"

BOSTON The Toronto Raptors sent a slight ripple throughout the NBA last month when they inked DeMar DeRozan to a four-year, 40 million contract extension.

Although it might have seemed a bit pricey for a player who had yet to establish himself as one of the better shooting guards in the league, the 6-foot-7 wing has steadily improved his game every season.

And among his biggest fans?

Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

"He's getting better every year," Rivers said. "I don't think people notice him, not because they're in Toronto but because of their record. I think people are sleeping on him a lot."

The Celtics certainly haven't, which is why limiting his effectiveness proved to be one of the keys in Boston's 107-89 win over the Raptors with DeRozan finishing with just 10 points.

DeRozan is a career 14.3 points per game scorer. Against the C's, DeRozan's numbers take a slight dip to 13 points per game. Ditto for his shooting percentage which drops to 42.7 against the Celtics compared to 45.7 percent for his career.

In the first half, DeRozan showcased his versatility. When a defensive switch left Kevin Garnett guarding him, DeRozan wisely rose up for a 19-foot jumper as Garnett refused to give him a lane driving to the basket.

On the ensuing Celtics possession, DeRozan came up with a steal.

It was the kind of offense-defense sequence that has him among the NBA's brightest up and coming talents that is seldom talked about.

That said, keeping him under control is becoming increasingly harder as he continues to expand his game.

"He adds stuff every year," Rivers said. "Early on, he was basically Kamikazee driver; that's what we labeled him as. Now he gets to the line, he makes jump shots, he defends ... he's a total basketball player."

And that willingness to steadily improve as a player despite some solid numbers early in his career, says more about his preparation to be more than just a pretty good NBA player - but one worthy of a 40 million contract.

"A lot of guys give in and settle," Rivers said. "What I like about him is ... I don't know him, but it seems like from afar he must put a lot of time in the summer in his game. Each year, he's gotten not just a little better but a lot better in areas that you would have to work on. That's impressive."

Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

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Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

FOXBORO -- The Patriots will head into Sunday's AFC title game with seven players listed as questionable, including three receivers. 

Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan have all been limited in practices this week due to their injuries. Amendola has been dealing with an ankle issue since a Week 13 win over the Rams, while Mitchell has not played since injuring his knee in Week 16 against the Jets. Hogan suffered a thigh injury against the Texans and left the game in the third quarter.

Both Hogan and Mitchell indicated this week that they were moving in the right direction in terms of their recoveries. One would think that the Patriots would need at least one, if not both, to help stress the back end of the Steelers secondary this weekend.

Hogan has been the team's most consistent down-the-field threat this season, averaging a whopping 17.9 yards per catch during the regular season. Against the Texans, before his injury, he reeled in four passes for 95 yards. 

Mitchell, meanwhile, had a very productive second half of his rookie season before he was hurt. He compiled 25 catches for 306 yards between Weeks 11 and 16, establishing himself as one of Tom Brady's go-to targets. 

The overall health of the Patriots receiving corps -- which will also include Julian Edelman and Michael Floyd -- will bear watching when the Patriots and Steelers kick off in two days.

The injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Steelers game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

QUESTIONABLE
WR Danny Amendola (ankle)
TE Martellus Bennett (knee)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder)
WR Chris Hogan (thigh)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee)
DL Jabaal Sheard (knee)

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

QUESTIONABLE
TE Ladarius Green (concussion/illness)
LB James Harrison (shoulder/triceps)
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (concussion)

NOT LISTED
RB Le'Veon Bell (not injury related)
K Chris Boswell (illness)
LB Anthony Chickillo (ankle)
S Sean Davis (shoulder)
C B.J. Finney (illness)
WR Darrius Heyward-Bay (illness)
DE Ricardo Mathews (ankle)
QB Zach Mettenberger (illness)
S Michael Mitchell (not injury related)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (not injury related)
LB Vince Williams (shoulder)