Celtics not putting teams away when given the chance

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Celtics not putting teams away when given the chance

BOSTON Putting teams in a deep hole seems to be getting easier of late for the Boston Celtics.

Now keeping them there is another matter.

The woeful Charlotte Bobcats were the latest team that the Celtics allowed to keep the game closer than it should be, before Boston ultimately pulled away for the win.

Boston (27-22) has won four of its last five games, and have led by double digits in all five. And of the four games the Celtics won, all but one ended with a single-digit Celtics win.

C's coach Doc Rivers has been harping on his players to improve in all phases of their play, including how to put a team away when they get up comfortably.

"He wants us to be creatures of habit on the defensive end and offensive end," Celtics forward Brandon Bass told CSNNE.com.

Doing so is easier said than done, especially when playing on the road.

In Boston's last five games, all but the Washington game on Sunday was on the road.

That also happens to be the Celtic's only double-digit win (88-76) among their last set of five games, although a 12-point win doesn't look all that appealing when you consider Boston led by as many as 25 points.

Coincidence?

Unlikely.

Still, that doesn't explain away how an 18-point lead at Charlotte, the worst team in the NBA, is a game that wasn't really decided until the final minutes of the fourth quarter.

Bass attributes part of the challenge in burying a team like Charlotte, to how they view the C's coming to town.

"We know teams like the Bobcats, they mark us on the schedule," Bass said. "They look forward to playing against us. We knew they were going to fight, but we wanted to make sure we got the win."

The Celtics did just that.

But as the playoffs get closer, just winning games can't be enough. Because a number of Boston's opponents down the stretch don't have impressive records, the C's can't just win - they have to win playing well.

And the easiest way for that to happen, is to take control and not allow the game to get close once they establish control.

More than anything else, Boston's inability to bury teams after getting a sizable lead, comes down to being more consistent.

"We can't play in spurts," said C's Paul Pierce. "We're trying to build for the playoffs. It's good that we can build big leads. But the thing is, we give them up and feel like we can build them back up again. In order to win in the playoffs, you have to start building habits now. When you have a chance to put a team away, you gotta do it. That's where we're trying to get to."

Brady on Thomas criticism: 'I love Earl . . . Wish him the best'

Brady on Thomas criticism: 'I love Earl . . . Wish him the best'

Tom Brady was getting hit from all sorts of different angles on Saturday night. Not only was he dealing with Texans pass-rushers Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney, he was also catching social-media shrapnel from Earl Thomas and Ray Lewis. 

Thomas was adamant that Brady had an easy road every year because he played in the AFC East. Lewis, meanwhile, got on Brady for complaining to officials when he thought they should have called a penalty for roughing the passer. 

On Monday, joining WEEI's Kirk and Callahan program, Brady responded to both. 

"I don't think I've ever been one to, you know, say something negative about anybody," Brady said of Thomas, who missed the end of the season with a broken leg. "It's just not my personality. I love Earl. I think he's a hell of a player. I really wish him the best in his recovery."

When it came to Lewis' critique, Brady acknowledged he complained to the officials. And he noted that it might've worked. Soon after he threw a fit when a flag wasn't thrown, the Patriots did pick up 15 extra yards when Clowney was tagged with a roughing-the-passer call.

"We had a lot of battles with Ray on the field," Brady said. "And yeah, I would love to try to make sure the officials are paying close attention. If we can get one of those 15-yard penalties, those are important."

Brady on Brown Facebook video: Wouldn't go over well with Belichick

Brady on Brown Facebook video: Wouldn't go over well with Belichick

We know how Bill Belichick feels about social media. For years now he's been openly mocking the names of different platforms. 

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How then would Belichick feel about one of his players streaming his postgame speech live to an online audience of thousands? Probably not great. 

"That's against our team policy," Tom Brady told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show on Monday morning. "I don't think that would go over well with our coach."

Brady was referencing the video posted to Facebook Live by Steelers wideout Antonio Brown late Sunday night. With over 20,000 fans watching, Brown streamed the postgame locker room prayer as well as Tomlin's speech. 

Tomlin called the Patriots a-holes, and he made note of the fact that because the Steelers-Chiefs game had been pushed to Sunday night the Patriots had a day-and-a-half more to rest and prepare than the Steelers did. Then when he spotted a player on his phone, Tomlin told his players to get off social media -- all while Brown continued to stream from behind a bank of lockers. 

"Every coach has a different style," said Brady, who recently began using an Instagram account. "Our coach, he's been in the league for 42 years and he's pretty old school. He's not into social media, and I think he lets everyone know that. I think our team has a policy. We don't show anything that should be private because he feels when we are inside our stadium, inside the walls, there has to be a degree of privacy that we have. What's done in the locker room should stay in the locker room."