Paoletti's Super Bowl diary: The circus starts

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Paoletti's Super Bowl diary: The circus starts

Mary Paoletti making her first trip to the Super Bowl. This is the first entry in her daily Super Bowl diary:
BOSTON: I rode to the airport in the dark. Amazing you can be on the road at 5:15 a.m. and worry about being late to your destination. But that's exactly what I felt, both because I've missed a flight before (Pittsburgh? Or was it Oakland? Can't remember) and because I'm a worrier. Never on the surface -- there I can usually manage a calm acquiescence to trouble.

Like after losing my black winter hat this morning. Hope it's not too cold in Indiana because I have no idea where my hat is. Likely on the floor of Hudson News.

So it goes.

Otherwise, I'm pretty blank. The excitement I felt percolating the previous week has vanished. I'm tired. I saw some Patriots AFC Championship gear -- hats, tee shirts, magazines -- sprinkled around Logan, but right now it feels like I could be going to Buffalo again.

For the record, I liked Buffalo.

INDIANAPOLIS: Unbelievable. I step off the plane, walk through the tunnel, and the first thing I see in Indy is a familiar face: Bob Glauber from Newsday. What a relief! The cab ride from airport to hotel was infinitely more comfortable traveling with someone who's done all this before. Me? I'm green. And if other reporters can't smell it on me, it doesn't take long for them to find out.

"First Super Bowl?"

It's the return greeting I get from all media I meet. When I say that, yes, it is, the veterans all nod knowingly and sigh some figure housing the years its been since their first time. Then comes the obligatory advice or warnings.

"Oh, boy. Everyone thinks it's fun, but it's all work, ya' know."

Yes. It's work. I know.

But as I look around the airport I'm grateful for my innocence. The building's been decked out like an enormous parade float -- Super Bowl XLVI banners hanging from every inch of wall space, kiosks selling apparel for both teams, logos slapped onto the damn floor -- and it all spills out into the streets.

It's impossible to imagine Indy as a portal for anything but this football game. It's overwhelming.

I can't wait to get started.
INDIANAPOLIS --Monday, 10:41 P.M.: Two days in the bag now.

I think I'm happy with my work. The objective for our Super Bowl coverage this week is high velocity publishing. It's exactly the opposite of how I like to write. Kurt Vonnegut, one of my favorite authors, described two different types of writers in Timequake: Bangers and Swoopers. Swoopers spit their words on paper; it's quick and dirty. The rough form is then massaged, edited over and over until its just right. Bangers agonize over every single word. The sentences must be perfect the first time out; edits are rare. There's a lot more staring at the blank page than filling it out.

I am not a Swooper.

But I've done well enough, starting with Sunday night's Belichick and Brady Show. Bill Belichick was oddly, maddeningly charming in his press conference. By comparison, Brady was bland. I don't think there was much he said Sunday in Indianapolis I hadn't heard on a November Sunday at Gillette.

Player availability came next.

Matthew Slater, Logan Mankins, Wes Welker, and Brian Waters occupied separate tables in the corners of a vast white tent. I was struck immediately by Slater's body language. It seemed like he was trying to scrunch down in his chair, his chin almost level with the table top. He spoke well, as he always does, and mentioned how his faith shapes his reactions to the day (as he always does). I wonder if he minded being elevated and alone as he was.

Waters is a funny guy. He has a big personality. I imagine it would take a lot to rattle his cage in a press conference. If you're hoping to provoke Waters into a sensational answer, you'll fail. And it's not that he'll throw up the ready-made Patriots brick wall, he'll just laugh and shrug you off as though you're silly for asking. The reporter who asked him to sing a love song about Brady and Belichick's legacies learned this.

Day Two was different.

Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty, Dan Connolly (Dan Connolly!), BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and Vince Wilfork showed up to speak after practice.

The room was tiny.

Television cameras formed a barrier in front of each table, annoying the scribes who were forced to jostle for position on the periphery. It might seem like a minor detail, but being in sight of the player you're trying to talk to is important. When three, or 30, reporters are all talking over each other -- "Devin! Devin!" -- making eye contact with the guy might be what lifts your voice above the noise.

I spoke with McCourty and Chung.

Chung seemed tired. He usually has a more dynamic personality than McCourty, is more likely to react with an exaggerated expression or a laugh. He can also cut off a line of questioning mid-sentence if he doesn't like it.

McCourty is amazing in his consistency. I've seen him smile a few times, but I feel like if you annoyed him you'd never know it. I think that's why it's so interesting to me when he celebrates on the field. The celebrations have been rare this year, but they're downright impossible to imagine when the guy doesn't have his helmet on.

The day ended at Don Shula's steakhouse. Yes, the restaurant is an homage to the Shula of Miami Dolphins fame. The cuts of meat were offered via football. Really. I had to take the menu off a tee to figure out what kind of steak I wanted.

While working on my salad I looked out the plate glass window to my left and saw fireworks exploding between buildings. Amazing. I have no idea what they were for. It might be my fault for looking for a reason. Anything goes during Super Bowl week, they tell me.

Celtics Question of the Day: Is Brad Stevens' honeymoon over?

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Celtics Question of the Day: Is Brad Stevens' honeymoon over?

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From now until the opening of training camp, we'll be asking a question about the Celtics and the upcoming season. Today: Is the honeymoon over for coach Brad Stevens?
 
BOSTON – When the Celtics convinced Brad Stevens to leave behind an incredibly successful college coaching career at Butler (two national title runner-up finishes) to become their head coach in 2013, the Celtics were immediately credited with having added one of the brightest young basketball minds to the family.
 
Three years into the job and Stevens has shown tangible improvement with Boston having won more games from each season to the next.
 
But this 2016-2017 campaign will be unlike any that Stevens has had while at the helm in Boston.
 
While the expectations each year have been greater than their immediate predecessor, Boston now finds itself going into the season as one of the hunted in the East as opposed to being well entrenched among the hunters.
 
Westgate Las Vegas Sportsbook released its win total odds last week for NBA teams., predicting the Celtics (51.5) will be one of five teams (Golden State, Cleveland, San Antonio and the Los Angeles Clippers were the others) expected to win at least 50 games.
 
But as we all have seen, expectations and actual results don’t always mesh.
 
Stevens has enjoyed a tremendous amount of support from the franchise and fans throughout his first three seasons.
 
But if Boston fails to live up to the increased expectations, does that mean the honeymoon for Stevens is over?
 
While anything is possible when it comes to Celtics Nation, it will take more than one sub-par season for him to lose the support of the team’s fan base.
 
Here are three reasons why regardless of how the Celtics fare this season, "In Brad we trust" will remain in effect.
 
YOUNG NUCLEUS
 
Boston has a roster full of what league execs like to refer to as "Young Veterans."
 
A great example of this is 27-year-old Isaiah Thomas who is heading into his sixth NBA season.
 
Thomas, a first-time all-star last year, has seen enough of the league to not be confused with a youngster. That said, he’s still young and has enough upside to where you can’t classify him as a grizzled veteran, either.
 
Because that makes up the majority of this Celtics roster, it speaks volumes about how this group still has a tremendous amount of room to grow going forward.
 
And because of that potential and Stevens’ track record of getting the most out of his players, you won’t see him or the Celtics panic if this season doesn’t play out the way they envision it.
 
STRONG FOUNDATION
 
In Stevens’ first year coaching the Celtics, there was a definite talent gap between what Boston put on the floor and what they had to deal with on the opposing bench.
 
And yet there they were most nights, fighting and clawing their way towards a competitive game that no most nights ended with a loss.
 
The silver lining in that 25-win season was how this Celtics team played with a never-give-up mentality, a trait they saw first-hand from their coach Brad Stevens.
 
Regardless of whether they were up 25 points or trailing, Stevens maintained an even-keeled demeanor that quietly accomplished a number of things.
 
For starters, it provided a sense of confidence among the players that their head coach wasn’t going to get rattled by a rough night or a stretch of rough nights.
 
Regardless of the results, Stevens was going to continue working towards getting better.
 
That was his approach when they were struggling to win games, and it remained in place last season when they spent a good chunk of the year ranked among the top teams in the East.
 
So with that being established as part of the foundation under Stevens, that foundation combined with better talent collectively led to more wins.
 
EVEN-KEELED LEADERSHIP
 
Stevens and the Celtics are now at a crossroads in which the steady improvement we’ve seen now must take that all-important next step and become one of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference.
 
Again, it is much easier said than done but as every Celtics player will tell you, is definitely doable.
 
While Cleveland remains the standard bearer in the East, it is very wide open afterwards with Boston, Toronto and Atlanta the most likely teams to contend for the No. 2 spot in the East.
 
The mood is always a positive, upbeat one on the eve of training camp.
 
But the Celtics have more reasons than usual to be optimistic about their upcoming season which kicks off with training camp this week.
 
They have better depth with the additions of rookie Jaylen Brown and veterans Gerald Green and four time all-star Al Horford. Thomas, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder all return with the mindset being to build off of what worked for them last season.
 
And then there’s Stevens who has quickly established himself as a bright, up-and-comer in the coaching world.
 
But at some point, all that promise and potential he has shown as a coach has to ultimately lead to big-time production.
 
And the pressure that comes with that tends to build when the honeymoon that all coaches enjoy, is officially over.
 
Stevens is getting close to that point, but he isn’t there yet.
 
Much of his success will still be based on players striving towards reaching their potential.
 
Because of that, he won’t catch too much heat if the team underachieves in what will be a season in which the expectations have never been higher.
 
But that’s OK.
 
Because regardless of how the stakes may be, Stevens will continue to be an even-keeled, level-headed leader that Celtics Nation won’t turn its back on anytime soon.

Belichick: Sunday a 'rare opportunity' to watch upcoming opponent live

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Belichick: Sunday a 'rare opportunity' to watch upcoming opponent live

How do the Patriots handle Sundays after Thursday night games? Bill Belichick says he won't be glued to the television as New England's next opponent, Buffalo, takes on Arizona. But he will be watching and thinking through situations as they play out live. 

"I think for today, we've done preparation work on the Bills in their first two games, so this is one of those rare opportunities where you can kind of watch the game with a little bit of an idea of how you would want to play it or what you would want to do in certain situations," Belichick said in a conference call on Sunday. "Then, obviously not knowing what they'll do, kind of see how that goes, see what they'll do in those situations compared to what you think they're going to do. Or have they come up with something else, or is this situation a little bit different and has that changed their strategy or play-calling or whatever that happens to be?"

One of the elements of the game that Belichick may give a little extra thought to is how the Bills run their offense under new offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn, who replaced Greg Roman after Roman was fired following Buffalo's Week 2 loss to the Jets.

"Obviously, with a new coordinator, defensively we'll have to pay attention and see what changes or modifications they will make this week," Belichick said. "That may be an ongoing process. I don't know if they do decide to change things whether they could get it all done this week or maybe it would take a period of time, but we'll kind of keep our eye on that.

"In the end, we'll have the film by the end of the day today so that'll answer a lot more questions than the live part of it will. But the live part of it, I'd say as we're working on the scouting report for Buffalo, you can kind of have that game on in the background, sort of keep your eye on it, and see how it goes. But I wouldn't say we're just glued to the TV because we'll see everything that we need to see in a matter of hours anyway."