Talib finally entering Patriots fold

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Talib finally entering Patriots fold

Cornerback Aqib Talib's four-game suspension was completed and lifted by the NFL Monday. He was traded to New England by the Buccaneers more than a week ago.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick hasn't said much about his new defensive back over the last 11 days, choosing instead to focus "on the players who are here."

But Monday, the coach said Talib's acceptance into the fold has finally begun.

Im glad to have him. Were working with him," Belichick said. "Im sure that hell work hard to try to get caught up and well see where it all goes.

Given the unique situation surrounding the trade, New England's roster exemption for Talib has been extended to November 19 -- one week from today. The exemption is lifted when the Patriots activate him.

Belichick isn't concerned with calling this a special case, however.

The staff will work with the cornerback individually, hunker down for film study, and get Talib immersed in Patriots terminology. New England will hold its first practiced Wednesday and the hope is to get the cornerback in by then to be ready for Sunday's game against Indianapolis.

Is there added pressure because of the team's struggles in the secondary? Belichick sounded more interested in covering the basics.

"It's not about expectations or goals," he said. "We're in uncharted territory here with a new player on a new team."

There's a lot to learn on both sides.

Talib has been in Tampa Bay, an NFC team, for the duration of his four and a half year career. He's played against the Patriots once in that time.

Defensive back Devin McCourty admitted he knows little of his new teammate. The only thing he's sure of is that having an extra body, a talented one, in the secondary should help.

"We look forward to it; Wednesday he'll get here and we'll get out there to practice," McCourty said. "It'll be a big week for us. Just to get another guy out there who you know is a good player, it'll be exciting.

Jerod Mayo said something similar on his call. The linebacker, who was a first round pick as Talib was in 2008, remembers only an outline of his peer based off the few visits they made together.

"I just know he's competitive and he loves the game," said Mayo. "I'm not really sure as to how he plays the game, I just know he goes out there and plays hard every day. So we'll see what happens."

Both Millers missing from Bruins practice, but trending toward return

Both Millers missing from Bruins practice, but trending toward return

BRIGHTON, Mass – While both Kevan Miller and Colin Miller were missing from Bruins practice on Saturday morning, both injured Bruins defensemen could be rejoining the team soon.

Colin Miller skated on his own prior to Saturday’s team practice at Warrior Ice Arena for the second or third time since suffering a lower body injury in the win over the St. Louis Blues. Claude Julien said his presence on the ice was proof that the puck-moving defenseman is “definitely on the mend”, and could be nearing a return to practice soon with Sunday marking the sixth straight game that he’ll have missed.

Kevan Miller is out with a concussion suffered last weekend in the win over the Philadelphia Flyers, and the B’s current three-game losing streak has coincided with his absence from the lineup.

Julien said Miller has actually been away from the team for the last couple of days while dealing with a virus, and that his recovery from the concussion symptoms was good prior to being knocked down by the illness.

“Kevan was actually feeling really well and then he got hit by a virus that’s kept him in bed for the last two days,” said Julien. “It’s nothing to do with his original injury. There was a possibility he could have been ready very soon, but that’s set him back a bit.”

Both are obviously out for Sunday’s matinee against the Penguins, but a return to practice at some point next week seems like a good bet for both players. Here are the line combos and defense pairings from Saturday’s practice with the Bruins focusing on getting a good result in Pittsburgh with the hockey club on a “mom’s trip” with 22 of the players’ mothers traveling with the team to and from the game:

Marchand-Bergeron-Vatrano

Schaller-Krejci-Pastrnak

Spooner-Nash-Backes/Hayes

Blidh/Beleskey-Moore-Czarnik

 

Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

Morrow-Liles

 

Rask

McIntyre

Fast-break points aren't necessarily a good thing for Celtics

Fast-break points aren't necessarily a good thing for Celtics

BOSTON – Conventional NBA wisdom tells you that getting out to score in transition is a good thing, usually serving as easy points scored, which is what every team wants, right?
 
But bundles of transition points have been nothing but trouble for the Celtics this season.
 
They are coming off a game against the New York Knicks in which they scored 22 fast-break points, which was their second-best showing this season. But the final score, a 117-106 loss, wasn’t all that unusual from what has happened this season when their transition game has generated a decent amount of scoring.
 
Boston has a 2-6 record this season when they score 16 or more fast-break points. On the nights when Boston’s fast-break offense generates 10 or fewer points?
 
They’re 11-5.
 
While there are several possible reasons why this is, here’s what you have to remember.
 
The Celtics are a ball-movement, 3-point shooting team.
 
Often that means they’ll pass up potential shots in transition, to instead work the ball around from one side of the floor to the other, until they get what they deem is the best shot to take (usually it’s a lightly contested to wide open 3-pointer).
 
The Celtics average 329.6 passes per game, which ranks second in the NBA (Philadelphia, 354.8). Not surprisingly, that has led to them ranking among the league’s leaders in assists (24.9, third in the NBA).
 
And that has led to Boston being ranked among the top-3 in several other key passing statistics, such as secondary assists (7.1, 2nd in the NBA); potential assists (49.5, 2nd); and assists points created (60.8, 3rd);
 
Here are a few more stats to crunch on, courtesy of CSN Associate Producer Andy Levine.
 
PAINT BY NUMBERS: When the Celtics score 40 percent or less of their points in the paint, they are 19-5 this season. When Boston gets 40 percent or more of its points in the paint, they are just 7-11.
 
BROWN IN THE FOURTH: Jaylen Brown has been among the better rookies this season, especially in the fourth quarter. Among rookies who played in at least 20 games in the fourth quarter, Brown is second in fourth quarter shooting at 54.9 percent. With those same standards, he’s sixth in shooting 3’s in the fourth at 38.5 percent.
 
CROWDER BOUNCES BACK: The past four games has seemingly brought out the best in Crowder. In that span, he has averaged 18.5 points and 6.8 rebounds while shooting 57 percent from the field and 48 percent from 3-point range. Crowder’s 3-point shooting of late has elevated him to seventh in the league while connecting on 42.5 percent of his 3-point attempts (minimum 150 attempts).

OUCH! It has not been a smooth start for Evan Turner with his new team, the Portland Trail Blazers. This season, Turner’s plus/minus is -234, which is the fourth-worst plus/minus in the NBA.