Blakely's Celtics-Rockets preview

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Blakely's Celtics-Rockets preview

BOSTON Lately Boston has run through opponents that aren't exactly the upper crust of the NBA. But at this point, the Celtics (19-17) will pick up any crumbs of success they can get their hands on.

But as much as they have enjoyed their current four-game winning streak, the C's understand that this time of year . . . you gotta be greedy.

Up next for the Celtics will be Houston (21-17), a team that's currently trending in the opposite direction with three straight losses.

While the Rockets are indeed a step up from some of the C's most recent opponents, the Celtics' grind-it-out approach has to remain a constant regardless of the challenger.

"Every game for us, we know it's going to be a hard game," Boston's Avery Bradley told CSNNE.com. "We're going to come in; we're going to fight every game."

That approach has worked of late, and the C's will certainly look to keep it going tonight against the Rockets.

But there are other factors that are sure to come into play as the C's try to extend their winning streak to five in a row against a reeling Houston team coached by former Celtics great Kevin McHale.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR -- Although the Celtics are scoring more with Brandon Bass in the starting lineup, the increase in scoring has a lot to do with their defense. Boston is forcing more turnovers, which has allowed them to get out in transition and get easy baskets. For the season, Boston is forcing 15.1 turnovers per game. During their current four-game winning streak, the C's have increased their forced turnover number to 17.3 per game.

MATCHUP TO WATCH -- Rajon Rondo vs. Kyle Lowry: While Lowry doesn't have the kind of media sizzle of New York's Jeremy Lin or New Jersey's Deron Williams, Rondo's defense of Lowry will have to be good. Lost in the Celtics' recent run of success has been the fact that all but one of the four point guards Rondo has faced (with the exception being Cleveland's Kyrie Irving) since returning from the All-Star break, has had a sub-par performance against the C's. But Lowry is a different kind of point guard from those guys. In some ways, he has the kind of all-around game that we see in Rondo. Look at his numbers. Lowry is having arguably his best NBA season, averaging 15.8 points, 7.3 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game.

PLAYER TO WATCH -- The role of Ray Allen continues to fluctuate from one game to another. Some nights, he'll be looked upon to drive more to the basket. Other nights, the NBA's all-time 3-point king will be needed to shoot more. And then there was the win over the New York Knicks on Sunday, a game in which Allen was more of a decoy who set lots of picks. It'll be interesting to see how the Rockets approach defending Allen, and how Allen and the C's respond.

STAT TO TRACK -- If you see a 3-pointer go in tonight, cherish the moment because there probably won't be many. The Celtics defend the 3-point shot better than any team in the NBA, with opponents shooting just 30.2 percent on threes against them. The Houston Rockets are literally right behind Boston in 3-point defense, with their opponents connecting on 31 percent of their long-distance tries.

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL


Tom Brady delivered a video message last week at the funeral of Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, a Maine native and former UConn track athlete killed in Somalia on May 5.

Bill Speros of The Boston Herald, in a column this Memorial Day weekend, wrote about Milliken and Brady's message.   

Milliken ran track at Cheverus High School in Falmouth, Maine, and at UConn, where he graduated in 2001. Milliken lived in Virginia Beach, Va., with his wife, Erin, and two children.  He other Navy SEALs participated in a training exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011 where he met and posed for pictures with Brady.

Speros wrote that at Milliken’s funeral in Virginia Beach, Va., Brady's video offered condolences and thanked Milliken’s family for its sacrifice and spoke of how Milliken was considered a “glue guy” by UConn track coach Greg Roy.

Milliken had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning four Bronze Star Medals and was based in Virginia since 2004.  He was killed in a nighttime firefight with Al-Shabaab militants near Barij, about 40 miles from the Somali capital of Mogadishu. He was 38.

The Pentagon said Milliken was the first American serviceman killed in combat in Somalia since the "Black Hawk Down" battle that killed 18 Americans in 1993. 

In a statement to the Herald, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said: “It was an honor to host Kyle and his team for an exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011. It gave new meaning to the stadium being known as home of the Patriots. We were deeply saddened to hear of Kyle’s death earlier this month.

“As Memorial Day weekend approaches, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by patriots like Kyle and so many others who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect our rights as Americans. Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt appreciation are extended to the Milliken family and the many families who will be remembering lives lost this Memorial Day weekend.”