Clippers crush Celtics, 106-77

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Clippers crush Celtics, 106-77

LOS ANGELES Prior to Thursday's game, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers joked about a conversation he had recently with Los Angeles Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro about the Clippers' depth.
"It's really tough for all 11 of your guys to play bad," Rivers recalled telling Del Negro.
Rivers added, "When you think about that team, when you have a team where five or six guys can play poorly and you can still win by a lot of points, that means you are really deep. That's what they have."
And that's what they proved in emphatic fashion on Thursday, blowing out the C's 106-77 on to extend their winning streak to a franchise-best 15 in a row.
The high hopes that Boston (14-14) had for an upset seemed to be wiped out in a matter of minutes as the Clippers (23-6) opened the game with a blistering 16-4 run that set the blowout in motion.
But the Celtics battled back early on, even cutting the Clippers lead to 30-20 following a Kevin Garnett buzzer-beating jumper to end the first.
Boston's backups brought the C's even closer, 32-28, following a 3-pointer by Courtney Lee. But the Clippers ran off eight straight regain control of the game and from there, it was never really close again as the Clippers got contributions from an assortment of players.
Then again, that has been the Clippers way all season.
Teams that run off 15 straight wins have to do more than rely on one or two players in order to win.
The leading scorers for the Clippers on Thursday were Matt Barnes (21 points) and Jamal Crawford (17) who both come off the bench.
"They got a lot of good players," Rivers said.
When reminded that most teams have good players, Rivers replied, "Yeah, but most teams don't have 11 of them."
Indeed, the Clippers depth allowed the starters to bolt out to a double-digit lead that the second unit was able to maintain.
It was the kind of performance that fans were anticipating the Celtics and their deep-on-paper bench would deliver this season.
But that has not been the case.
Not even close.
It was for the most part an exercise in futility with the C's showing that whatever growth they have made in recent weeks, they still have a ways to go before they can compete with elite teams like the Clippers.
Elite team. Clippers. Same sentence.
Yeah, it sounds weird for sure.
But it is the reality of the NBA right now, just like the Celtics being a mediocre team is indeed the true state of where the C's are currently.

USA TODAY predicts 19-0 season for Patriots

USA TODAY predicts 19-0 season for Patriots

You can add USA TODAY to the Patriots' undefeated season bandwagon.

In its annual projections before NFL teams report to training camps this week, USA TODAY has the Patriots going 16-0 in the regular season, then beating the AFC West's L.A. Chargers and Oakland Raiders in the playoffs before capping a perfect 19-0 season with a Super Bowl 52 victory over Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in Minneapolis.

Here's their Pats' regular-season rundown from USA TODAY NFL writer Nate Davis:

New England Patriots (16-0): Is it bold? Sure. Kinda. But it's not like Tom Brady hasn't gone 16-0 before ... (and, really, wouldn't he and Bill Belichick secretly love to add 19-0 to their otherwise incomparable resumes?). And from the FWIW department, Brady went 14-1 last season and appears to be surrounded by an even better cast now, especially if Rob Gronkowski is, in fact, back to 100%. 

Pats wide receiver Julian Edelman called the 19-0 talk "stupid" last week. Bill Belichick is almost guaranteed to dismiss it if and when he's asked about it this week.