Sixers-Celtics review: Missed FTs hurt

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Sixers-Celtics review: Missed FTs hurt

BOSTON There was a steady stream of trips to the free throw line for the Boston Celtics on Friday night, showing once again what having multiple players attacking the rim can do.

But as it turned out, a slew of missed free throws would prove costly to the Celtics in their comeback attempt that fell short in their 106-100 loss to Philadelphia.

Boston came into the game averaging 24 free throw attempts per game, which ranked ninth in the NBA.

On Friday, the Celtics (2-3) had 31 free throw attempts but only connected on 22 of them.

"Our missed free throws were huge ... in this game," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

In the pivotal fourth quarter, the Celtics were 2-for-4 from the line. But the two misses - one by Paul Pierce and the other by Kevin Garnett - came when the C's were down by 10 and nine points, respectively.

Boston's free-throw shooting allowed the C's to stay close in a game that for the most part was dominated by the Sixers. Here are some other keys identified prior to the game, and how they actually played out.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:  Generating points in the paint needs to be a priority for the Celtics tonight. Philadelphia, playing without centers Andrew Bynum (knee) and Kwame Brown (calf), are indeed ripe in the middle. The numbers bear this out, with Philadelphia ranking 20th in points-in-the-paint differential (-3.3).

WHAT WE SAW: Not only did Boston struggle to generate points in the paint, but the Sixers actually dominated them inside with a 56-38 advantage in points in the paint. It comes back to dribble penetration by the Sixers who frequently beat Celtics defenders off the dribble.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Celtics starting power forward vs. Thaddeus Young: This is where Boston's lineup  versatility should help. Young is too quick for Jared Sullinger, so don't be shocked to see Brandon Bass or possibly Jeff Green in the starting lineup tonight.

WHAT WE SAW: Boston opted to go with Jared Sullinger but rather than have him guard Young, the C's opted to have Kevin Garnett start off on Young. Garnett did a solid job, but the minute Garnett went to the bench ... Young got going. He would finish with 15 points and five rebounds. After the game, C's coach Doc Rivers saw Young's play as being critical to the Sixers' win. "Thaddeus Young, in a lot of ways, was the difference in the game," Rivers said. "I just thought he did a lot of things."

PLAYER TO WATCH:  Rajon Rondo has been on a subtle, but impressive nonetheless start to this season. In addition to increasing his scoring average (career-high 16 points per game) while shooting a career-best 57.4 percent from the field, he continues to rack up a consistently high number of assists. By reaching double figures tonight in assists, it will be his 29th straight regular season game which would tie him for third all-time with John Stockton for the most consecutive regular season games with 10 or more assists.

WHAT WE SAW: Rondo had a strong game statistically with 14 points and a season-high 20 assists, but Philadelphia's Jrue Holiday was easily the better point guard on this night. "Pick and roll coverages, I have to do better with that," Rondo said. "He got anywhere he wanted tonight on the floor."

STAT TO TRACK: Doc Rivers might want to bottle up whatever he says at halftime, and make it part of his pregame spiel to his players when it comes to scoring the ball. The Celtics have proven thus far to be a much better team generating offense in the second half of games, compared to the game's first 24 minutes.  The C's rank No. 22 and No. 29 in the league in first and second quarter scoring, respectively. It becomes a completely different Celtics squad in the second half with the C's ranking ninth and 10th in third and fourth quarter scoring, respectively.

WHAT WE SAW: Boston's second-half surge scoring the ball continued on Friday night with the C's tallying 29 and 26 points in the third and fourth quarters, respectively. Even with the increased scoring, it won't mean anything until the Celtics do a better job of clamping down defensively in the second half.

NFL Draft picks No. 1-8: Tunsil sliding after video of bong hit surfaces

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NFL Draft picks No. 1-8: Tunsil sliding after video of bong hit surfaces

No access at Gillette? No first-round pick unless the Patriots make a swap into the latter stages of the round? No problem. We're all over it from the palatial offices here in Burlington. We go pick-by-pick through the first round.

Rams: Jared Goff, QB, Cal

“Is there anything you’d like to translate to the fans of the Los Angeles Rams?!?!” Deion Sanders wheezed into the face of Goff moments after he was selected. Goff, who to that point had done little but shake his head and “golly-gee” then had something else to be befuddled by. Goff will, for the next few years, provide adequate cover for Jeff Fisher to continue stealing money as an NFL head coach. Fisher – who’s won 8, 6, 7, 7, 6 and 7 games in his past six seasons and hasn’t coached a playoff win since 2003 – did as he was told by the league office and milked the clock all the way down before making the selection everyone knew the Rams would make when they mortgaged the future to make a 2016 splash in their new city.

Eagles: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State

“Now, the competition really begins,” Deion Sanders told to Carson Wentz. “Who’s gonna prepare their team to the playoffs first?” Wentz, who fits the quarterback suit so much better than Goff, had to be stunned that he not only had to lead his team to the playoffs on the field but also prepare them there as well. Now the Eagles have to assuage the feelings of a former No. 1 overall pick, Sam Bradford, who’s pissed that the Eagles were going to draft a quarterback. And Wentz has to look at Bradford and make sure he doesn’t end up like him.

Chargers: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State

“You fillllllleddddd with emotions,” Deion Sanders told Joey Bosa. “Give me the feeling right now.” The feeling from Bosa was surprise. He said he thought he’d be cooling off for another half-hour or 45 minutes before being selected but the Chargers brought the first eye-widener of the night by selecting Bosa who Pro Football Focus had as their No. 1. The Chargers knew it all along and didn’t tip their hands.

Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State

“This kid can bring them right into the playoffs!” proclaimed NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci. Whoa, Mooch. Whoa. First off, it’s a playoff team to begin with if Tony Romo doesn’t crack his collarbone again. Second off, running behind that offensive line with an outside receiver like Dez Bryant and a tight end like Jason Witten on the field, you don’t necessarily need to burn the fourth overall pick on a running back. But the Cowboys love their splash factor and Elliott provides one.

Jaguars: Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State

“You’re dancing,” Deion Sanders observed. “You’re exuding your swag. Are you happy right now?” Ramsey, the massive 6-1, 209-pound corner confirmed that he was. He also confirmed that he’s a shutdown corner. The Jaguars, as Senator Phil Perry noted as we watched the draft from our Burlington offices, are going to be good soon.

Ravens: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame

“Folks,” said NFL Draft Analyst Mike Mayock, “he’s got 35 and three-quarter-inch arms.” Yes he does. And now he’s going to the Ravens where his physicality and toughness are going to enable Baltimore to plunk him down on Joe Flacco’s blind side and let him roll. Still doesn’t really address the issue of wide receiver talent aside from the ageless Steve Smith but what can you do. Stanley’s a good pick.

49ers: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon

It was between Buckner and offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil at this point but just before the draft commenced, a video of Tunsil taking a bong hit while wearing a gas mask popped up on his Twitter feed. It was deleted and a hacking was blamed. And Buckner likely became the beneficiary of the Tunsil fiasco. My suspicion is Tonya Harding was behind it.

Titans: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State

The Titans made a deal with the Rams, sending them the 15th overall pick to move up and get former walk-on Conklin. The Browns got the 15th overall pick in return and a third-rounder as well. And the Laremy Tunsil debacle rolls on as reports that the Ravens took Tunsil off their draft board when the video popped up. .

Celtics-Hawks Game 6 at the half: C's fall behind, show signs of comeback

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Celtics-Hawks Game 6 at the half: C's fall behind, show signs of comeback

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics have 24 minutes to keep their season alive.

If it happens, they’ll have to play much better in the final 24 minutes as they go into the half trailing Atlanta, 41-33.

Boston fell behind 34-21 in the second quarter, but the Celtics showed signs of getting back into the game with a 12-7 spurt to close out the half.

Isaiah Thomas’ call for additional help in this series rang loud and clear among his teammates with Jonas Jerebko leading the way with five of Boston’s first nine points.

But Boston’s 9-5 start was followed by an 8-0 Hawks run that led to a 13-9 Hawks lead as Brad Stevens called a time-out with 3:51 to play in the quarter.

The Hawks’ momentum was slowed down some, but the Celtics still couldn’t muster enough shots to regain the lead.

At the end of the first quarter, the Celtics were down 20-17.

Boston continued to struggle in the third quarter, with Stevens looking for someone, anyone to catch fire offensively.

He tried rookie R.J. Hunter and Terry Rozier.

Kelly Olynyk struggled at both ends of the floor during his first half stint.

And Isaiah Thomas, the focal point of Atlanta’s efforts defensively, was once again bottled up for most of the first half.

He wound up scoring 9 points on 3-for-11 shooting.

Meanwhile the Hawks were looking very much like a team ready to move on to the next round of play, getting contributions from key starters and reserves like Tim Hardaway Jr. who had 7 points in the first half. 

Patriots show support for Brady just before start of the draft

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Patriots show support for Brady just before start of the draft

The Patriots haven't made any kind of statement about Tom Brady's four-game suspension since the Second Circuit ruled to have it reinstated earlier this week. They did make a statement showing support for their quarterback just before the start draft, though. 

In the moments leading up to commissioner Roger Goodell's announcement that the Rams were "on the clock" with the first pick of the first round, the Patriots posted an image of Brady's jersey to their Instagram account. 

The image is the same one that the Patriots have used as their profile photo on Twitter for much of the duration of the Deflategate saga. The team has no first-round pick (No. 29) as a result of the punishment issued by the league due to Deflategate. The team was also docked a fourth-round pick in 2017 and $1 million for the alleged ball-deflation scheme. 

Patriots coach Bill Belichick and director of player personnel Nick Caserio have the ability to trade into the first round, but if they do, they will make their selection with the lower of their two first-rounders. Therefore they cannot make a selection before pick No. 29.