Rivers: Ainge not trying to trade Big Three


Rivers: Ainge not trying to trade Big Three

WALTHAM Rajon Rondo remembers all too well what life was like before the Big Three came together in Boston prior to the the 2007-2008 season.

"It was ugly around here when there wasn't a Big Three," Rondo said. "We lost 18 straight that year. It was a tough year, but we had a great turnaround once the Big Three came together."

While it's no secret that their time together is running out, it may be over sooner than expected after Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, made headlines Thursday when he told the Boston Globe that he would be open to trading any of the Big Three.

Celtics head coach Doc Rivers carefully responded to the comments, trying not to add any fuel to the fire.

"Danny, I don't think meant in any way that he was trying to trade anybody," Rivers said. "I would say it's a very strong possibility that we're going to get this together, and there's an even stronger possibility that every guy will be here."

While Ainge didn't say he plans to blow up the Big Three of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, he is open to the idea for several reasons.

For starters, they're underachieving. There is no way anyone could have anticipated that the C's would be 5-8 after 13 games.

That core group isn't getting any younger, and their trade value continues to drop with time.

Ainge doesn't want to make the same mistake Celtics great Red Auerbach did in the 1980s when he held on to his core group for too long despite having offers for younger, up-and-coming talent.

Auerbach had offers to move both Larry Bird and Kevin Mchale, but elected not to do so.

Those decisions, coupled with a series of missteps afterward, resulted in the C's struggling to remain competitive in the post-Bird era.

"If I were presented with those kinds of deals for our aging veterans, it's a done deal, to continue the success," Ainge told the Globe.

It was clear just the idea of not having the Big Three around, bothered Rondo.

But if there's one thing he has learned in the past year or so, it's that teammates -- regardless of how long they've been around -- can be traded away at a moment's notice.

"It's a business," Rondo said. "I was heavy in trade talks this summer. I guess it's their turn; it still could be me. You never know. It's part of the business."

Steelers know they'll have their hands full with Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett


Steelers know they'll have their hands full with Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett

PITTSBURGH – So far this season, Martellus Bennett and Rob Gronkowski have combined for 39 catches, 644 yards and five touchdowns. Making the numbers that much more impressive is the fact the numbers were rolled up with Gronk inactive for two games and fairly useless in another thanks to his hamstring injury.

Will the Steelers slow the roll of Robellus Grennetski?

Hard to imagine. As Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette points out, Gronk alone has tuned up the Steelers with 26 receptions for 403 yards and seven touchdowns in six meetings.

Fittipaldo explored the strategies the Steelers defense may unveil Sunday afternoon when the Patriots and Steelers get going. He also pointed out that the return of linebacker Ryan Shazier after a three week layoff and injuries for safeties Mike Mitchell and Robert Golden may put Pittsburgh at a disadvantage.

Said Shazier: “They have the tandem they want at tight end. Now they can use tight ends the way they want. You have to respect everyone on the field. Both of them are good blockers, good pass threats and great at running after the catch.”

Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler said Pittsburgh will alter its approaches.

“We have to be able to play more than one defense,” Butler said. “They’re very good and they’ll pick you apart if they can figure out what you’re doing. We just have to execute the defense more than anything else. If we can do that … that’s been our problem for the most part. Some of the things that went on last week, we missed some things we should have made mentally.”

What “went on last week” was a 30-15 loss to the Dolphins.

Pittsburgh hasn’t been a big-play group so far -- eight sacks and three picks -- nor have they seen a gauntlet of great quarterbacks in the first six games. 

Interestingly, their losses have been to Ryan Tannehill and rookie Carson Wentz, probably the two quarterbacks one would figure Pittsburgh would do best against.
Between a smoking hot Brady and a can’t-be-stopped tight end tandem, there’s probably not a lot Pittsburgh can do aside from hoping for an off day.

Said linebacker Arthur Moats hopefully: “You have to continue to mix it up against (Gronkowski). You can’t give him the same look over and over. He has success on guys like that. If we disrupt him, and rush Brady and speed up his clock, I definitely think that will help out.”

In theory, perhaps. In practice? We’ll see.

Game notes: Patriots vs. Steelers


Game notes: Patriots vs. Steelers

A quick look at the information you need to know about today's Patriots-Steelers game:

TEAM RECORDS: Patriots 5-1, Steelers 4- 2

GAME TIME: 4:25 p.m. EST


TV ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms and Tracy Wolfson


NATIONAL RADIO ANNOUNCERS: Larry Kahn, Mark Carrier and Troy West

LOCAL RADIO NETWORK: Anchored by WBZ-FM (98.5 The Sports Hub)

LOCAL RADIO ANNOUNCERS: Bob Socci and Scott Zolak


LAST MEETING: Patriots 28, Steelers 21 on Sept. 10, 2015 at Gillette Stadium

* * * *
-- The Patriots are 8-11 against the Steelers in Pittsburgh in their history, but are 4-2 at Heinz Field. Included in those four Heinz Field victories are two in AFC Championship Games (in the 2001 and 2004 seasons).

-- Tom Brady is 8-2 against the Steelers in his career.

-- The last time Brady played the Steelers, in 2015, he set a Patriots franchise record with 19 consecutive pass completions.

-- The Patriots are 108-70 (.607) in road games since 1994, the best record in the NFL over that span. The Steelers (97- 82, .542) are second.

-- The Patriots have yet to throw an interception in 2016, setting a team record for consecutive games without an interception at the start of a season (6). The NFL record for consecutive games at the start of a season without a pick is 9, set by the 1960 Browns. The Patriots' franchise record for overall consecutive games with no interceptions is 8, set in 2010.

* * * *
-- Rob Gronkowski has 67 overall touchdowns and needs one to tie Stanley Morgan (68) for the franchise record.

-- Gronkowski has 66 receiving touchdowns and needs one to tie Morgan (67) for the franchise record.

-- Gronkowski has 22 100-yard receiving games, including two in 2016, and is tied with Jackie Smith for the third-most among all NFL tight ends. The only TEs who have more are Kellen Winslow (24) and Tony Gonzalez (31).