Wakeup Call: It was June in December for Heat and Thunder

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Wakeup Call: It was June in December for Heat and Thunder

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Wednesday, December 26:

BASEBALL
Will Andruw Jones' early-Christmas-morning arrest on a battery charge in a domestic dispute jeopardize the contract he just signed to play in Japan next year? (AP)

In protest of the Hall of FamePED mess, one voter registered a protest by sending in an empty ballot. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Arizona wins the Diamond Head Classic. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
If early December is the time for college football teams to fire their coaches, late December is the time for them to suspend their naughty players from bowl games. Like Texas Tech. (AP via CSN Houston)

And Syracuse. (AP)

Jerry Sandusky just won't shut up. (AP)

PRO BASKETBALL
Quite the Finals rematch between the Heat and Thunder, wasn't it? (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

And Miami's win over Oklahoma City felt like it was played in "a different month" acorrding to Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, referring to the springtime playoff intensity. (AP)

How intense was it? LeBron James even committed a foul. (AP)

Looks like something from Tom Thibodeau's time in Boston stuck to him when he went to Chicago: He invoked the Bill Belichick "Gotta play better, gotta coach better" line after the Bulls were routed by the Rockets. (CSN Chicago)

Can anyone stop the Clippers? (AP)

Across town, the Lakers are patting themselves on the back for reaching the .500 mark after their win over the Knicks. (AP)

PRO FOOTBALL
Whenever Bill Belichick is asked a question about an injured Patriot, he invariably responds, "I'm not a doctor." Let us introduce you, then, to Mike McCarthy, M.D., of Green Bay. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

Steve Mariucci gives a passionate non-denial denial to reports linking him to the soon-to-be-open Chargers job. (CSN Bay Area)

Broken finger? What broken finger? (Pro Football Talk)

The Seahawks -- perhaps with an eye towards a playoff matchup against the Falcons -- may sign ex-Atlanta defensive end Ray Edwards. (Pro Football Talk)

Looking for a reason for the Ravens to be optimistic heading into the playoffs? They're getting healthy. (CSN Baltimore)

Looking for a reason to be pessimistic? They're the most penalized team in the NFL, and they've no shown no sign of reversing that season-killing trend. (CSN Baltimore)

Michael Vick will be back at quarterback for the Eagles -- Nick Foles, you see, is hurt -- as they try to finish off the all-but-dead Giants. (AP)

No one who saw Mario Manningham crumble to the ground Sunday night will be surprised to hear that he's out for the season. (CSN Bay Area)

Also done for the year: Heath Miller. But, then, so are the Steelers. (AP)

Adrian Peterson's dealing with a sore abdominal muscle as he a) gears up for a run at a 208-yard performance that would enable him to break Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record and b) tries to help the Vikings earn a playoff spot with a win over the Packers. (AP)

If John Fox had an MVP vote, he'd cast it for Peyton Manning . . . but he admits, "Obviously, I'm going to be a little biased." (AP)

TENNIS
Now it's a stomach virus that's keeping Rafael Nadal off the courts. (AP)

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.