Rondo, Williams ready to face off in guard-driven league

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Rondo, Williams ready to face off in guard-driven league

WALTHAM, Mass. Elite point guard in Boston versus Elite point guard in Brooklyn, take two.

And ... action!

A sprained ankle injury kept Rajon Rondo off the floor when the Celtics played the Deron Williams-led Brooklyn Nets earlier this month.

Now this made-for-the-hardwood matchup shifts to the TD Garden on Wednesday when the C's - that includes a healthy Rondo - host the Nets.

And while both teams will do their part to keep the focus on their respective teams and not the individual point guard matchup, players of their stature can't run or hide from the hype.

That's especially true when you see more and more teams build their rosters around point guards - something that was unheard of during Doc Rivers' days as a player.

Rivers believes the shift has more to do with rule changes than anything else.

"I don't know if I could have played in the league with these rules, or I could have been great," Rivers said.

Rules regarding what's allowed defensively have made the NBA game one in which players who have the ball in their hands the most - usually point guards - will have a significant impact on games.

"It's brought the quick guard back in the league, the small guard back in the league," Rivers said.

The emphasis placed on guard play now is especially apparent in watching teams almost exclusively call pick-and-roll plays.

"I watched a game last night where they ran the pick-and-roll every single possession from the first quarter on and they won," Rivers said. "It was unbelievable. And they won because the other team couldn't stop it."

The C's to a large degree are no different than others along those lines.

Rookie Jared Sullinger possesses the kind of skills that mesh well with Rajon Rondo. Sullinger's soft hands provide Rondo a prime target to pass to in half court sets.

Boston also re-signed Chris Wilcox and Jeff Green, two players known for their ability to run the floor well which provides Rondo two prime targets in transition.

The Nets have clearly built their roster around Williams with additions such as Joe Johnson along with re-signing Kris Humphries.

"It's funny now, when you are drafting, if you have a first-round pick, a first pick and you have a choice between a big and a guard it was a no-brainer," Rivers said. "It's still a no-brainer if the big's going to be dominant. But if not, you have to give serious thought, if you think that point guard is going to be special, you have to think point guard."

Players like Courtney Lee recognize how the game has evolved to one in which perimeter guards rule the day.

"The game became a lot quicker," Lee said. "Back in the day, you see guys with a lot of height, a lot of guards posting up, like (Golden State Warriors head coach and former New York Knicks guard) Mark Jackson; big guard bringing the ball down with his back to the basket. You got guys like Rondo, Deron Williams and Chris Paul playing with speed. The game has changed a lot."

Curran’s 100 plays that shaped a dynasty: A nice pair of kicks

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Curran’s 100 plays that shaped a dynasty: A nice pair of kicks

We're into the Top 10 now.

These are the plays of the Bill Belichick Era you best never forget. And probably can't. They're the ones that led directly to championships -- most for New England, a couple for the other guys. Or they're plays that signified a sea change in the way the New England Patriots under Belichick would be behaving from there on out.

I did my best to stack them in order of importance. You got a problem with that? Good. Let us know what's too high, too low or just plain wrong. And thanks for keeping up!

PLAY NUMBER: 4

THE YEAR: 2001 (actually Feb. 3, 2002)

THE GAME: Patriots 20, Rams 17

THE PLAY: Vinatieri 48-yarder in Superdome delivers SB36 win

WHY IT’S HERE: When the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, it was viewed nationally and locally as a cathartic moment for a long-suffering region. Deliverance for a fanbase that resolutely suffered through 90 years of star-crossed heartbreak with a mix of stoicism and fatalism. “Long-suffering Red Sox fan” was a badge of honor, an identity. And New Englanders – baseball fans or not - would self-identify with the hideous notion of Red Sox Nation. There was no “Patriots Nation.” To drag out the forced metaphor, Patriots fans were living in tents and cabins in the wilderness, recluses. Reluctant to be seen in town where they’d be mocked. And suddenly, they cobbled together one of the most improbable, magical seasons in American professional sports, a year which gave birth to a dynasty which was first celebrated, now reviled but always respected. And while so many games and plays led to this 48-yarder – ones we’ve mentioned 12 times on this list – Adam Vinatieri kicking a 48-yarder right down the f****** middle to win the Super Bowl was an orgasmic moment for the recluses and pariahs that had been Patriots fans when nobody would admit to such a thing.
 

PLAY NUMBER: 3

THE YEAR: 2001 (actually Jan. 19, 2002)

THE GAME: Patriots 16, Raiders 13

THE PLAY: Vinatieri from 45 through a blizzard to tie Snow Bowl

WHY IT’S HERE: Two thoughts traveling on parallel tracks were running through the mind while Adam Vinatieri trotted onto the field and lined up his 45-yarder to tie Oakland in the 2001 AFC Divisional Playoff Game, the final one at Foxboro Stadium. “There’s no way he can make this kick in this weather,” was the first. “The way this season’s gone, I bet he makes this kick. It can’t end here. It can’t end now.” From where I was sitting in the press box I couldn’t see the ball clearly, probably because I was looking for it on a higher trajectory than Vinatieri used. So I remember Vinatieri going through the ball, my being unable to locate it in the air and then looking for the refs under the goalposts to see their signal. And when I located them, I saw the ball scuttle past. Then I saw the officials’ arms rise. Twenty-five years earlier, the first team I ever followed passionately – the ’76 Patriots – left me in tears when they lost to the Raiders in the playoffs. Now, at 33, I was covering that team and it had gotten a measure of retribution for the 8-year-old me.
 

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics to bring back Gerald Green with one-year deal

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Report: Celtics to bring back Gerald Green with one-year deal

The Celtics will sign free agent Gerald Green, the guard they drafted with the 18th overall pick back in 2005, Sean Deveney of the Sporting News reported.

Green, 30, played for the Miami Heat last season and averaged 8.9 points a game. Deveney reports Green will sign a one-year guaranteed contract. 

Green has been well-traveled since being traded by the Celtics in the Kevin Garnett deal in 2007, the year he won the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk contest. He has played for seven other NBA teams and played two seasons in Russia. His best season was 2013-14 in Phoenix when he averaged 15.8 points a game for the Suns. 

Deveney also reports that sources around the league continue to indicate the Celtics are looking to make a trade for a "star-caliber type" player. Last week, he reported on their interest in the Clippers' Blake Griffin.