Celtics snap skid, crush Raptors, 96-73


Celtics snap skid, crush Raptors, 96-73

BOSTON When you've lost as many games as the Boston Celtics, quality wins are the last thing you're thinking about.

A win - period - is all you want.

That's exactly what the Celtics got on Wednesday as they snapped a Big Three-era worst five game losing skid, with a 96-73 victory over the Toronto Raptors.

Boston (5-8), which has struggled in the first quarter, dominated the first 12 minutes to take a 29-14 lead into the second.

Toronto (4-11) cut into the C's lead, but Boston's control of the game was never in doubt.

Rajon Rondo dominated play, but not in the way that we're used to.

Rondo, who came into Wednesday's game as the NBA's co-leader in assists with Phoenix guard Steve Nash, was non-stop as a scorer.

He led all scorers with 21 points along with a season-low two assists.

Rondo's impressive scoring night could have been even better if not for a sore right wrist injury suffered with about two minutes to play after a hard foul by Toronto's Linas Kleiza.

Rondo did not return.

Kevin Garnett scored 15 points on 5-7 shooting, and Brandon Bass added 13 points and nine rebounds off the bench for the C's.

Toronto, playing without their top scorer Andrea Bargnani, was led by former UMass star Gary Forbes who had 18 points off the Raptors bench.

Report: Cavs. Pacers, Nuggets discuss deal involving George, Love

Report: Cavs. Pacers, Nuggets discuss deal involving George, Love

Don’t count the Cleveland Cavaliers out of the Paul George sweepstakes just yet.

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein and Chris Haynes, the Cavaliers are still working on a way to get George with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in Ohio.

The latest rumor involves a three way deal being discussed between the Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers, and Denver Nuggets. According to Hayes, the deal would send George and Kenenth Faried to Cleveland and Kevin Love to Denver.

Presumably, Indiana would end up with good picks and a few young assets.

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Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

David Harris is expected to be a savvy middle linebacker who will line up his teammates when they help. He's expected to provide some level of leadership, even in his first year in New England, as an accomplished-but-hungry 33-year-old who has not yet reached a Super Bowl. 

What Harris is not expected to do is improve the Patriots pass rush. He was in on one sack in 900 snaps last season.  

But in a roundabout way he might. 

MORE: How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

There are dominos to fall now that Harris has been added to Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia's defense. How much will Harris play, and whose playing time will he cut into? Those questions don't yet have answers, but one of the more intriguing elements of the Harris acquisition is how he will benefit Dont'a Hightower's game.

If Harris can pick up the Patriots defense quickly -- and all indications are that there should be few issues there -- he could take some of the all-important communication responsibilities off of Hightower's shoulders. 

Ever since taking the reins from Jerod Mayo as the team's signal-caller, Hightower has had to be on top of all requisite pre-snap checks and last-second alignment changes. It's a critical role, and one that Hightower performs well, but those duties place some added stress on the player wearing the green dot. Perhaps if part of that load can be heaped onto Harris' plate, that might allow Hightower to feel as though he's been freed up to focus on his individual assignments.

Harris' presence might also impact where on the field Hightower is used. Hightower may be the most versatile piece on a Patriots defense loaded with them, but with Harris in the middle, Hightower could end up playing more on the edge, where he's proven he can make a major impact (see: Super Bowl LI).

For Belichick and his staff, having the ability to use one of their best pass-rushers -- and one of the most efficient rushers league-wide, per Pro Football Focus -- on the edge more frequently has to be an enticing byproduct of the move to sign Harris. Especially since there are some question marks among the team's end-of-the-line defenders behind Trey Flowers and Rob Ninkovich. 

We'll have to wait for training camp before we have an idea of how exactly Harris fits in with the Patriots defense. But the effect he'll have on his new teammates, and Hightower in particular, will be fascinating to track.