Belichick making the most of time during the bye

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Belichick making the most of time during the bye

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick reiterated the importance of using time during the bye week, not just for rest or a chance to re-charge batteries, but to find out what can be done to improve the Patriots going forward.

"I think its important for all of us to use whatever time we have efficiently," Belichick said Thursday. "Whether thats a regular week or a bye week, we have so many hours in the day, so many days in the week leading up to the game and those are all opportunities. Each day, each hour, theyre all opportunities to do the right thing whether it be preparation or physical rehab or rest or nutrition or whatever it happens to be.

"We try to make the most out of each of those opportunities, all of us -- players, coaches, rookies, veterans, long weeks, short weeks, off days, work days, whatever they are, we just try to get the most out of each day. Thats how we approach it is day to day. How do we get the most out of each day? Its important, of course its important. Every day is important."

Though Belichick said that the Patriots are not necessarily focused on how things are tracking in the long term -- "We just take it one game at a time, and right now were just trying to get ready for Buffalo" -- he did stress the importance of using the extra time they have this week to go back and look at different elements of his team's play so that the coaching staff might identify ways to be more successful going forward.

"That involves a lot of things," Belichick said. "Its plays, its techniques, its schemes, its maybe style of play, if you will, personnel groups, all those kind of things so we try to stay on top of all that . . . After youve had a number of opportunities to observe it, youve run it multiple times then you have a fair evaluation.  You say, OK, weve run this play a bunch of times, these same problems keep coming up. Or this is the issue in this play, we have to change this. Not that we havent had experience with those plays before, but again it just gives you sometimes a chance to study it in a little bit more detail."

Details are the key. After the team identifies the areas in which it can improve, decisions have to be made as to how much time is allotted to each.

Take New England's pass defense as an example. It has allowed more plays of 20 yards or more than any other team in the league. Belichick admitted that it has to improve in that area. And while all areas of the pass defense can be addressed -- pass rush, pass coverage, scheme -- there will have to be decisions made as to which elements will get the most time. Even with the week off, there's only so much time in every day.

"I think thats a big part of what were doing right now," Belichick said. "Were looking at a lot of things; we have a few of balls in the air. When they come down, well have to figure out what the information is and whats the most important thing and how do we best utilize our time, our practice reps, our preparation time. How do we get the most out of that? Its still part of the process for this week. Weve done some of it but theres definitely more to go, and we continue to prepare for Buffalo. Thats all part of it, too."

Texas Hold'em: Noel would interest Celts, but Mavs probably won't let him go

Texas Hold'em: Noel would interest Celts, but Mavs probably won't let him go

The Celtics' two main targets in free agency are expected to be Gordon Hayward and Blake Griffin. But what if neither signs here . . . or what if the C's have other plans? This week, we'll look at some of  'The Other Guys' who might interest the Celtics: TODAY: Dallas' Nerlens Noel.

BOSTON -- When the Celtics had trade talks with Philadelphia last season, it was no secret they had their eyes set on Nerlens Noel.
 
The 23-year-old has shown tremendous potential as an elite, rim-protecting big man.

THE OTHER GUYS: POTENTIAL CELTIC FREE-AGENT TARGETS


The Dallas Mavericks saw those same qualities, which is why they engineered a trade for him last season despite knowing he would be a restricted free agent this summer.
 
And while he would certainly be the kind of player Boston would absolutely love to add to the mix, seeing the Mavericks go in a different direction seems highly unlikely.
 
But until he signs with the Mavericks or any other team, the Celtics can’t be totally discounted as a possibility if they strike out on Gordon Hayward and Blake Griffin.
 
WE LIKE HIM BECAUSE . . .
 
His proven body of work and his potential. Noel has shown flashes of being a decent player offensively, but he’s going to get paid handsomely this summer because of his defense and rebounding.
 
According to Basketball-reference.com, Noel has been among the NBA’s top 10 in defensive box plus/minus two of his three NBA seasons.
 
During the 2014-15 season, his defensive plus/minus was +4.5 (fourth in the NBA) and the following season it was +3.4 (eighth in the NBA).
 
And while his upside is viewed primarily through a defensive prism, his presence on the floor seemed to provide a much-needed jolt to the Mavericks offensively.
 
In his 22 games with Dallas, he averaged 8.5 points and 6.8 rebounds with a solid offensive rating of 106.1.
 
NOT CRAZY ABOUT . . .
 
You love Noel’s length and athleticism, but you wish he would add some weight to withstand the physical rigors of playing primarily in the post. In an ideal world, Noel will add another 10-15 pounds, which would put him weight-wise similar to another standout Maverick from a few years back, Tyson Chandler. But Noel’s narrow shoulders and pogo-stick thick legs will likely result in his current 228-pound frame not changing much in the near future. He will still be a factor defensively, but there will be nights when stronger, more physical centers will give him problems. Fortunately for him and the Mavericks, big men whose strength is well, their strength, are becoming scarce in this new age of position-less basketball in the NBA.
 
IN CONCLUSION . . .
 
Noel would look really good in a Celtics uniform, but there’s little to no chance the Mavericks allow him to get away. They've made it clear that re-signing the 6-foot-11 big man is their top priority. And short of Kevin Durant or Stephen Curry saying they want to become a Maverick, it’s highly unlikely Dallas will change course.
 
PRICE TAG
 
Four-year, $106.4 million. That’s the most a team outside of Dallas can offer the soon-to-be restricted free agent. Noel knows the Mavericks won’t hesitate to offer him a max contract, which would give him more guaranteed years (five), better raises (eight percent versus five percent) and a total package of $143.55 million, which is more than $37 million beyond what other teams like the Celtics can offer.
 
Again, something would have to go unexpectedly wrong for Noel to wind up on any roster other than the Mavericks.

Bruins sign restricted free agent Acciari to two-year deal

Bruins sign restricted free agent Acciari to two-year deal

The Bruins have locked up a potential fourth-line piece for next season at a bargain basement price.

The B's signed Rhode Island native and Providence College alum Noel Acciari, a restricted free agent, to a two-year deal worth $1.45 million, a contract that breaks down to a very affordable $725,000 cap hit for each of the next two seasons. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound bowling ball of a forward finished with two goals and five points in 29 games for the Bruins last season, and has appeared in 48 games at the NHL level over the last two seasons in Boston. It was also encouraging that Acciari seemed to be tapping a bit more into his offense toward the end of the season, and was building some confidence for whatever modest offense he’ll end up bringing to the NHL table once he’s reached his potential ceiling as a player.

Clearly the two-year, one-way deal portends that Acciari, 25, will be counted on as a high energy, hard-hitting fourth-line player who does a good job of aggravating opponents while playing at full tilt. The real question is whether his body can hold up with his maximum effort style of playing, and whether he can avoid serious injuries with some of the car-crash level of violence he puts in his hitting.

Acciari has battled several different injuries over the last couple of seasons, but managed to be healthy enough to log time in the playoffs for both Boston and the P-Bruins.

Either way it’s a low-risk, affordable contract for the Bruins for a young player who, if healthy, will be a large piece on their fourth line as a diligent worker and excellent teammate. So that’s a good proactive signing for Don Sweeney as he continues to work on a more complicated contract for a higher profile player like David Pastrnak.