Bass making strides on defensive end

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Bass making strides on defensive end

BOSTON Brandon Bass came to Boston with a well-earned reputation for doing many things well - being a good defender wasn't one of them.

Don't expect Bass to get any votes for a spot on the NBA's all-defensive team this year.

But there's little doubt that his much-improved play defensively has been among the reasons for Boston's improved play coming out of the all-star break.

He came into Tuesday's game having tallied a career-high four blocked shots in Boston's overtime win against the New York Knicks on Sunday.

With Jermaine O'Neal (wrist) out with a wrist injury, Bass has been inserted in the starting lineup.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Bass' improved play defensively has indeed been aided by being surrounded by the likes of Kevin Garnett.

"I didn't put Kevin at the 5 (center) and Brandon at the 4 (power forward) to make Brandon a better defensive player," Rivers said. "But it has because playing more minutes with Kevin has helped him."

More than anything, Bass' pride has driven him to step his game up defensively.

He's in the starting lineup with a foursome that have won an NBA title, so they've already proven what they can do in terms of helping the C's be successful.

"If I didn't step up, I'd be like the weak link," Bass told CSNNE.com. "I have a lot pride; it starts with that, pride. If you got pride, and are a willing defender, and you could be a great defender. I'm trying to get better everyday defensively, and still help where I can on offense."

Bass' improved play defensively hasn't been a smooth progression.

As tough as Rivers can be on his players when it comes to defense, the Big Four he says, are even tougher.

"If you're not doing what you're supposed to do, you're probably going to hear it from one of the four," Rivers said. "And I think that has been very good for Brandon."

Isaiah Thomas: 'I didn't think Boston would be this cool when I came'

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Isaiah Thomas: 'I didn't think Boston would be this cool when I came'

Mike Gorman and Brian Scalabrine sit-down with Celtics All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas to talk about the high expectations for the season, the addition of Al Horford, and getting married this offseason.

Also, Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely talk about Thomas, including his very team friendly deal will ever become an issue.

Look for new podcast versions of our media day interviews in the coming days, plus videos and other content as the Celtics get ready for the season.

Pats exploit 'element of unknown' with Garoppolo or Brissett at QB

Pats exploit 'element of unknown' with Garoppolo or Brissett at QB

There’s no way to spin rookie Jacoby Brissett starting a game rather than three-year NFL veteran Jimmy Garoppolo or future Hall of Famer Tom Brady as preferable.
 
But can the disadvantages be mitigated? Can the fact there is no “book” on a player be helpful?
 
“I think there’s always an element of the unknown when you’re dealing with a player or something you haven’t seen or scouted as much,” said Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels on a conference call Monday afternoon. “I don’t know if there’s an advantage there, it’s just that you don’t have as much information on a player or on some scheme that they may use, which then forces you to figure some things out as the game goes along and do some quick self-scouting as you move through the first cquarter, the first half, whatever it is, just to make sure that if it is something new you haven’t seen before, if it is a player that you haven’t played against and don’t have a lot of volume of tape on, that you have an opportunity to evaluate quickly what is going on.

"What’s happening in the game? How much of an impact is that player having? Are they trying to  do something that’s disrupting what you’re trying to do with their scheme? I think that happens a lot of weeks during the course of the year based on health and availability, new players, guys being called up, someone that just got signed and you don’t really have a lot of experience watching them play in their system. I would say that’s a common occurrence for us.”
 
With a fullback or UDFA guard pressed into duty, there’s not a helluva lot that will be altered in terms of scheme. With players like Garoppolo and Brissett, though, the Patriots' long-established offense can take on an entirely different look if different areas are emphasized.
 
For instance, jet sweep is a play the team won’t use much with Tom Brady except as a “keep ‘em honest” on the edges kind of play. With Garoppolo, quickness when he gets outside the pocket has to be respected so if he fakes that jet sweep and rolls to the outside, he’s a run-pass threat with speed and downfield accuracy. With Brissett, he’s a threat with elusiveness, size and power as a runner. Additionally, if the Patriots wanted to try the old Elway Throwback to the opposite sideline, Brissett may have more arm power than either Brady or Garoppolo.
 
McDaniels said the Patriots aren’t looking necessarily for ways to “surprise” opponents as much as they are looking for ways to accentuate players’ strengths.  
 
“We’ve got to take the guys that we get to play with, based on health and other factors, and then we consider the defense that we’re getting ready to play against, and the great players and the scheme that they use, and then we try to formulate the right plan to allow our players to go out there and play fast, play well, and do the things that suit their talents the best,” McDaniels explained. “I don’t think that our mindset has changed.

"Some of the variables have changed from one week to the next, which is always the case,  and of course, when you get a group of guys a plan and then you work so hard to get ready for Sunday or Thursday night and go out there and watch them play and execute and take care of the ball and do the things you need to do to try to win, and then they enjoy it so much, that’s really the thing that you take the most satisfaction from as a coach.”