Celtics-Raptors: What you saw

560514.jpg

Celtics-Raptors: What you saw

BOSTON Finally, the Boston Celtics are done streaking!

Wednesday's 96-73 victory for Boston snapped a five-game losing streak and in the process, extended the Toronto Raptor's losing skid to six and counting.

Before the game, we pointed out four areas to keep tabs on that would be major factors who won. Now that the game is over, we point out how it all actually went down.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR - If you're looking for a lot of points scored, you're not going to like tonight's game which features two of the NBA's lowest-scoring clubs. The C's average 89.8 points per game which ranks 26th in the NBA. The Raptors are even worse, averaging 86 points per game which ranks 29th in the league.

WHAT YOU SAW - The Celtics' were clicking at both ends of the floor. When you combine that with facing a bad team that was without their best scorer (Andrea Bargnani) because of injury, it's not a stretch that the C's dominated the game with such relative ease.

MATCHUP TO WATCH - Rajon Rondo vs. Jose Calderon. Similar style, both playmakers are more concerned with getting their teammates shots than taking them. However, both players sense a need to change that up some, which is why both are shooting the ball more than usual. Still, these two veterans will continue to rack up the assists. Rondo is tied for first in the NBA with 10 assists per game. Calderon is third with 9.1 assists per game.

WHAT YOU SAW: Rondo had no problem getting to the basket anytime he wanted to. He led all scorers with 21 points on 7-for-8 shooting from the field.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Paul Pierce. All eyes are usually on the Captain anyway. But you can expect folks to pay even closer attention to him after a report earlier this week indicated that playoff-contending teams are inquiring about whether the C's are willing to trade him.

WHAT YOU SAW: Pierce prides himself on giving the game whatever it needs. On Wednesday, he was needed to be more of a facilitator instead of a scorer. Along with eight points, Pierce also had a game-high seven assists.

STAT TO TRACK: Field goal percentage defense: The magic number for the Celtics is 45. The C's are 0-5 when teams have shot 45 percent or better from the field against them.

WHAT YOU SAW: Boston controlled the boards and contested most shots. Doing those two things against a bad team like Toronto, all but guarantees you a convincing win which is exactly what the Celtics got on Wednesday.

Report: Patriots sign LB Jonathan Freeny to two-year extension

freeny.jpg

Report: Patriots sign LB Jonathan Freeny to two-year extension

The Patriots have signed linebacker and special teamer Jonathan Freeny to a two-year contract extension through 2018, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported.

Freeney, 27, was originally signed by the Patriots to a one-year free-agent deal in March 2015 after spending the first four years of his NFL career with the Miami Dolphins. He then earned a one-year extension last September and played 13 games, seven starts, with 50 tackles, one sack and a forced fumble. 

 

 

Countdown to camp: Danton Heinen

countdown_to_camp_danton_heinen.png

Countdown to camp: Danton Heinen

Click here for the gallery.

From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2016-17 Bruins. Today: Danton Heinen.

Danton Heinen exploded into a high-profile prospect for the Bruins after finishing among the NCAA’s top scoring players a couple of years ago as a freshman along with a couple of guys named Jack Eichel and Dylan Larkin. 

Since then, Heinen has continued to produce offense at the University of Denver and continued to create offense that leads to points. Now, the 21-year-old Heinen will be entering the professional arena for his first full season with the Bruins and he’ll be attempting to transition from the prospect phase to a regular gig in the NHL. That’s the challenge for a talented player who appears headed into a very good opportunity in NHL training camp.

 

What happened last year

Heinen was every bit as explosive in his second season for Denver as he was in his brilliant freshman campaign. He improved on his scoring with 20 goals and 48 points in 41 games. Then Heinen signed with the Bruins at the end of his sophomore season and played in a couple of pro games in the AHL with Providence as a tune-up for this first full pro campaign with the Bruins organization. Heinen finished with two assists and a plus-1 rating in four games with the P-Bruins and showed the coaches in Providence that he was ready to play and produce with more talented players. If Heinen surprised a little bit as a breakout freshman two years ago, his sophomore follow-up in Denver last season proved to everybody that he wasn’t a fluke.

 

Questions to be answered this season

The real question surrounding Heinen is about his ceiling as an NHL player and just how good he can become as a player with the skills and playmaking abilities to be a top-six forward. He’s proven he can dominate at the collegiate level while admittedly playing with some pretty good teammates at Denver. Heinen showed at the end of the season in Providence that the pro scene might not be much different for him. At this point, Heinen simply needs to go out and prove it against the best players in the world and show that his speed, playmaking and hockey sense are all elite in the AHL or NHL. Heinen’s biggest obstacle might be his size. He'll need to survive as a targeted skill player despite not being much more than the 6-feet, 180-pound range for a forward. It’s about average for a playmaking wing in the NHL, but the hits and attention will be at a much more intense level than anything he faced in the NCAA world.

 

What they're saying

“He’s the type of player that he can play with good players because he’s got high hockey IQ and he’s got really good skill. I think anywhere you put him, he’s smart enough to figure it out. I think you’ll notice him during training camp. It will definitely be up to him, but I think he’ll push some guys.” –Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo on Heinen during last month’s development camp where Heinen soared as a performer.

 
Outlook

While Heinen still has some things he’ll need to prove before he’s a regular contributor for the Bruins, he comes into the Boston fold as an experienced player following two very good seasons at the college level. So, Heinen should be a little closer to plug-and-play for Claude Julien than some of the other young players that have come through the system in the past couple of years. Heinen will still need to flash in camp while being handed a big spot to perform with high-end veterans Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Brad Marchand potentially off playing in the World Cup of Hockey. Heinen also has a much greater chance of winning an NHL job sooner rather than later after the Bruins lost out on the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes and still have a top-six forward opening that somebody is going to fill. Heinen and Frank Vatrano are the two biggest favorites to fill that position, which became vacant when Loui Eriksson departed for Vancouver. Whichever winger loses that battle should be also be a strong candidate for a role on the third line, as well, barring any late veteran signings by the B’s. That set of circumstances leaves a very good situation for Heinen to potentially walk into with the Black and Gold, but he'll still have to show he’s fully capable of seizing his good fortune and good timing. 

49ers' Colin Kaepernick refusal to stand for national anthem ignites controversy

49ers-colin-kaepernick-082716.jpg

49ers' Colin Kaepernick refusal to stand for national anthem ignites controversy

Colin Kaepernick was already a noteable NFL player as the one-time, and now apparently former, face of the San Francisco 49ers.

The quarterback likely will gain even more notoriety for his stance on refusing to stand for the national anthem at a preseason game on Friday:

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told Steve Wyche of NFL Media. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

More here from Mike Florio of NBCSports.com's Pro Football Talk,