Celtics bench continues to find identity

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Celtics bench continues to find identity

After playing eight games since the the season kicked off on December 25, the Boston Celtics will have four game-free days before their next contest on Wednesday against the Dallas Mavericks.

This time wont be used for rest, though. The Celtics still have work to do.

This season there are six new faces on the bench, six players who went through a shortened training camp with the Celtics. They will use these days to hit the gym and continue the build the units that came together a month ago.

We havent found our identity yet, Keyon Dooling said of the reserves. I think this is a good way for us to get a little bit of a break. It was a bad loss for us tonight at home but it gives us some extra motivation to get in the gym on Sunday. Well be in the gym, well be working and trying to get better. Weve got to embrace where we are. In order to help this team, weve got to come in and do something positive and tonight we werent positive at all.

On Friday night, the Celtics bench combined for just 14 points in a loss to the Indiana Pacers. Brandon Bass, who averaged 14.5 points in his previous two games, led the reserves with five points. Dooling and Bradley tied with four, while Chris Wilcox chipped in a free throw. Marquis Daniels and Greg Stiemsma were both scoreless in around seven minutes each.

Head coach Doc Rivers was not pointing blame at the reserves. With high-scoring players in the starting lineup, it has never been on the shoulders of the bench to carry the offensive slack. He, too, will work on ways to improve the group.

Theres going to be nights like that, he said. I would say this: Brandon was two-for-seven and he missed five great shots. So, thats going to happen. We do have to get more out of our bench. And I told Keyon at halftime because you could see, he actually played pretty well tonight but I told him thats on me. Ive got to find something that works with them that we can give them. Theyre an energy group; theyre not a scoring group. But weve got to come up with something, and so thats not on them.

Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

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Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

FOXBORO -- The Patriots will head into Sunday's AFC title game with seven players listed as questionable, including three receivers. 

Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan have all been limited in practices this week due to their injuries. Amendola has been dealing with an ankle issue since a Week 13 win over the Rams, while Mitchell has not played since injuring his knee in Week 16 against the Jets. Hogan suffered a thigh injury against the Texans and left the game in the third quarter.

Both Hogan and Mitchell indicated this week that they were moving in the right direction in terms of their recoveries. One would think that the Patriots would need at least one, if not both, to help stress the back end of the Steelers secondary this weekend.

Hogan has been the team's most consistent down-the-field threat this season, averaging a whopping 17.9 yards per catch during the regular season. Against the Texans, before his injury, he reeled in four passes for 95 yards. 

Mitchell, meanwhile, had a very productive second half of his rookie season before he was hurt. He compiled 25 catches for 306 yards between Weeks 11 and 16, establishing himself as one of Tom Brady's go-to targets. 

The overall health of the Patriots receiving corps -- which will also include Julian Edelman and Michael Floyd -- will bear watching when the Patriots and Steelers kick off in two days.

The injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Steelers game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

QUESTIONABLE
WR Danny Amendola (ankle)
TE Martellus Bennett (knee)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder)
WR Chris Hogan (thigh)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee)
DL Jabaal Sheard (knee)

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

QUESTIONABLE
TE Ladarius Green (concussion/illness)
LB James Harrison (shoulder/triceps)
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (concussion)

NOT LISTED
RB Le'Veon Bell (not injury related)
K Chris Boswell (illness)
LB Anthony Chickillo (ankle)
S Sean Davis (shoulder)
C B.J. Finney (illness)
WR Darrius Heyward-Bay (illness)
DE Ricardo Mathews (ankle)
QB Zach Mettenberger (illness)
S Michael Mitchell (not injury related)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (not injury related)
LB Vince Williams (shoulder)