Celtics hope to keep Minnesota's Love off the glass

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Celtics hope to keep Minnesota's Love off the glass

WALTHAM Kevin Love spent a good bit of time after his rookie year working on his three-point shot.

For a burly power forward with questionable leaping ability and even more questionable athleticism, this wasn't exactly seen as the best use of his time.

But the more he worked on it, the better he became -- similar to what has transpired in all facets of his play which includes becoming a dominate force around the basket.

"Kevin Love is one of the best rebounders of our era," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "I know that's saying something early on in his career, but he really is."

While working for NBC Sports during the Summer Olympics in London, Rivers had a chance to see Love play regularly for Team USA.

"Two of those games early in the Olympics were kind of close in the first half, the U.S. would have been down by 20 but Kevin Love kept getting rebounds and you stare at it and watch it, it's an art."

You can add Paul Pierce to list of those impressed with Love's game, well aware that Love and Minnesota's strength -- rebounding -- is arguably the greatest flaw within the C's roster.

"Our main objective is to try and slow him down," Pierce said. "He's shown he can dominate the game with his offensive rebounding, and defensive rebounding. That's definitely an emphasis."

Celtics center Jason Collins played with Love in Minnesota during Love's rookie season.

"He's an extremely hard worker, great second jump," Collins told CSNNE.com. "Really anticipates where a rebound is going to come off and positions himself to be there to get the rebound."

Although a freakish knuckle injury has sidelined him for most of the season thus far, he has returned to action and picked up where he left off last season to rank among the NBA's top rebounders.

Love comes into tonight's game against the Philadelaphia 76ers averaging 21.7 points and 15.3 rebounds in six games this season.

But along with scoring and rebounding, Love's ability to shoot threes makes him an even more difficult player to cover.

While he has struggled thus far in shooting threes (19.4 percent), there's no mistaking he's a threat from long range the minute he steps on to the court which poses problems for most teams defensively.

Because of his size, he can score on most bigs in the post. When you throw in his three-point shooting prowess, he becomes a matchup nightmare.

"Kevin Love is such a different kind of player," Pierce said. "He's a power forward but he can step out and shoot the three, but he's an interior player when it comes to rebounding and doing all the dirty work."

And to see him knock it down now, Collins says, speaks volumes about his work ethic.

"He was practicing it, but it wasn't good as it is now," Collins said. "He was definitely practicing it and continuing to shoot it even when some of the coaches at the time might not have been comfortable with a four-man shooting 3s. But it shows that if you put the hard work in, put the time in, people will come around. He's really developed that part of his game."

And while his emergence last season may have caught some off guard, he's not sneaking up on anyone now.

"The guys know, they get the scouting report," said Celtics assistant Armond Hill. "They know what he's doing and how good he is as far as rebounding. KG (Kevin Garnett) and everyone else is aware."

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski is a model citizen in the NFL. In fact, the NFL Players Association is advising rookies to be more like Gronk, according to The Boston Globe

The New England Patriots tight end has developed a name for himself on and off the football field. With that attention comes branding. And at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere from May 18 to 20, the NFLPA encouraged rookies to develop their own brand -- much like Gronkowski.

“Some people think he’s just this extension of a frat boy, and that it’s sort of accidental,” Ahmad Nassar said, via The Globe. Nassar is the president of NFL Players Inc., the for-profit subsidiary of the NFLPA. “And that’s wrong. It’s not accidental, it’s very purposeful. So the message there is, really good branding is where you don’t even feel it. You think, ‘Oh, that’s just Gronk being Gronk.’ Actually, that’s his brand, but it’s so good and so ingrained and so authentic, you don’t even know it’s a brand or think it.”

Gronkowski's "Summer of Gronk" has indirectly become one of his streams of income. The tight end makes appearances for magazines and sponsors. Because of his earnings from branding and endorsements, he didn't touch his NFL salary during the early years of his career.

Gronk was one of three players who were the topics of discussion during the symposium. Dak Prescott and Odell Beckham were also used as examples of players who have been able to generate additional income from endorsements. Beckham, in particular, has been in the spotlight off the football field. He's appeared on the cover of Madden, and just signed a deal with NIke which is reportedly worth $25 million over five years with upwards of $48 million over eight years. His deal, which is a record for an NFL player, will pay him more than his contract with the Giants.

“A lot of people talk to the players about, ‘You should be careful with your money and you should treat your family this way and you should treat your girlfriend or your wife.’ Which is fine. I think that’s valuable,” Nassar said, via The Globe. “But we don’t often give them a chance to answer the question: How do you see yourself as a brand? Because Gronk, Odell, none of those guys accidentally ended up where they are from a branding and marketing standpoint.”

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

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Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing everybody a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. 

*Apparently Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to try Nashville’s hot chicken despite his time behind the Preds bench. It’s okay, I have yet to try it either in my handful of visits to Music City. 

*Good stuff from PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough. Apparently it wasn’t so easy to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed when it came time for director Doug Liman to cut Swingers together

*Sidney Crosby cares about the history and the issues of the game, and has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation despite the hate that always comes with such responsibility. 

*Puck Daddy examines Crosby’s performance in the playoffs, and the odds of him winning another Conn Smythe Trophy. 

*The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang for their playoff run, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. 

*Erik Karlsson said that he will be tending to his injured foot next week, and expects a full recovery for next season after a brilliant run with his Ottawa Senators

*Larry Brooks again rails against the Stanley Cup playoff structure and it’s relation to an “absurd regular season.” Say what you will, but the fact the Penguins are there for a second straight season shoots down some of the absurdity stuff in my mind. The best team from the East is where they should be and they did it without Kris Letang to boot. 

*Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat is confident his abilities will translate to the NHL despite his size after taking home honors as the best player in junior hockey this season. 

*For something completely different: Apparently there’s a hard core comic book geek gripe that “The Flash” is burning through bad guys too quickly. This would make sense if they couldn’t revisit these bad guys at any point, but they absolutely can go back to a big bad like Grodd anytime they want.