Blakely's Celtics-Bobcats preview

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Blakely's Celtics-Bobcats preview

CHARLOTTE, N.C. Rajon Rondo has never been confused about his role on the Boston Celtics. He is the C's primary play-maker.

But there are times when his focus on getting others their baskets overrides him making the best play for the team. Like, say, a lay-up for himself.

It is what makes Rondo fun to watch, but also can make life frustrating for C's head coach Doc Rivers.

Well, Sunday's 88-76 win over Washington was one of those games when Rivers had to remind Rondo that sometimes the best play to make, is one that involves him -- not his teammates -- finishing a play off.

And that he did, hitting back-to-back floaters in the lane in the fourth quarter which not only got him on stat sheet for scoring, but it also helped in terms of spacing the floor better.

To see Rondo pass up shots is nothing new for Rivers.

"When we win I feel good about it," Rivers said. "When we brought him in in the fourth I said, 'Rondo go to score.' "

The C's had a number of opportunities to score in transition, with Rondo giving the ball up rather than attacking to score which led to a series of Celtics' miscues.

"If I was a team I'd love it because you know you'll get the ball," Rivers said.

Rondo's ability to better balance his own scoring with when to set up teammates will be a factor in tonight's game against Charlotte. Here we examine other keys for tonight as the Celtics (26-22) look to go five games over .500 for the first time this season. Charlotte (7-39), on the other hand, is trending toward a historically bad finish.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR -- As bad as Charlotte has been, one of the few bright spots has been their leading scorer, Corey Maggette. His 15.4 points per game shouldn't scare you if you're the Celtics. It's how he gets a good chunk of those points that's of great concern for Boston. Throughout most of Maggette's career, he has been one of the best at getting to the free throw line. This season is no exception. He ranks fifth in the NBA in free throws made (5.8) per game, and is seventh in attempts (6.9).

MATCHUP TO WATCH -- Brandon Bass vs. Tyrus Thomas: Now that he's with the starters, Brandon Bass is used to matching up against taller players. But Thomas' height advantage as well as his athleticism, will challenge Bass in ways few players have this season. Keeping his fellow LSU Tiger from having a big game scoring or on the boards, will be a bigger priority for Bass than what he has done best all year - score the ball.

PLAYER TO WATCH -- All eyes will be on Avery Bradley, who is coming off a career-high 23 points against Washington. He got a lot of points off simply cutting to the basket, but he also made the Wizards pay when they left him alone on jumpers. We'll see if the Bobcats will adjust the way they defend Bradley, or will they do what most teams do and that's focus on Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo which in turn, allows Bradley the freedom to make plays.

STAT TO TRACK -- Both of these rank among the NBA's worst in rebounding, so winning the battle on the boards becomes a toss-up. Boston ranks dead-last in rebounds per game (46), while the Bobcats aren't much better at 48.7 per game which ranks 27th in the league. Even more telling is the rebounding deficit per game for Boston and Charlotte is 5.6 and 5.1, respectively.

Patriots release camp dates; open practices begin July 27

Patriots release camp dates; open practices begin July 27

Football is coming.

The Patriots announced on Thursday that veterans will report to training camp on Wednesday, July 26 and that the first public practice will take place the following day.

Each of the team's first four practices -- from July 27-30 -- are scheduled to take place on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium "in the nine o'clock hour," according to the Patriots. Updates to the training camp schedule, including more specific start times for practices, can be found at patriots.com/trainingcamp.

The Patriots Hall of Fame will hold its induction ceremony for former corner Raymond Clayborn on Saturday, July 29 around midday following that morning's training camp practice. Held on the plaza outside the Hall at Patriot Place, the ceremony will be free and open to the public.

The Patriots will host the Jaguars for two days of joint practices open to the public on Monday, Aug. 7 and Tuesday, Aug. 8. The preseason opener for both clubs will take place at Gillette Stadium on Aug. 10.

Blakely: Celtics trying to get No. 7 pick to trade to Knicks

Blakely: Celtics trying to get No. 7 pick to trade to Knicks

With the Knicks and Celtics having yet to find common ground on a trade for Kristaps Porzingis, it appears the C’s are trying to add to their stable of draft picks in order to facilitate an agreement. 

RELATED: Blakely's NBA Mock Draft 8.0

ESPN’s Ian Begley reported Thursday afternoon that Boston was offering a pick it had yet to acquire, with CSNNE’s A. Sherrod Blakely following up that it’s the seventh overall pick. The C’s already have the third overall pick. 

The NBA draft begins Thursday at 7 p.m.