Pats free-agent forecast: Defensive line

616020.jpg

Pats free-agent forecast: Defensive line

This is the third in a series of position-by-position looks at the Patriots heading into free agency. Today's position: Defensive line.
Wbo's on the roster?Ron Brace, Brandon Deaderick, Kyle Love, Alex Silvestro, Vince Wilfork, Aaron Lavarias, Myron Pryor.Patriots need level?A solid 8.Position overview?The Patriots had a good defensive line group in 2011. With a few moves and some health luck, they'll be fine again in 2012. The defensive tackle group of Vince Wilfork, Kyle Love and Brandon Deaderick stands out. Love is underrated and Deaderick's got nice versatility. Wilfork is still brilliant but it's not a bad thought for the Pats to eyeball his successor, either. The Patriots' struck gold on the edge of their 4-3 in free agency last year with Mark Anderson and Andre Carter. Both are now free agents. The team also cycled through veteran DTs Gerard Warren, Albert Haynesworth and Shaun Ellis. Only Warren was reliable. Who's out there?John Abraham, Falcons: Abraham will be 34 this season and what he's got left in the tank would make him merely a rotation guy. Mark Anderson, Patriots: Has to be a priority re-signing for the Patriots. There is the Leigh Bodden Effect to be concerned about -- re-signing your own free agent to a bigger deal then getting disappointing performance -- but the 29-year-old Anderson had 10 regular season sacks and two more in the playoffs. Brodrick Bunkley, Broncos: Excellent against the run but has been a bit of a disappointment over his career. Adam Carriker, Redskins: One-time 13th overall pick revived his career in Washington. Still just 28, has 3-4, 4-3 versatility and is a very intriguing player. Andre Carter, Patriots: Was just outstanding until tearing his quad in December. Consummate pro and a priority re-signing even if he's entering his 12th season. Luis Castillo, Chargers: He'd have to come in on an incentive-charged deal. Gets hurt a lot but is a pro and could be lured as a veteran in search of a championship. Derrick Harvey, Broncos: A first-round pick in 2008 who was a bust in Jacksonville, was as big a bust in Denver. But he's long and fast, fast and long. Kendall Langford, Dolphins: Solid young run-plugger. Miami won't let him go, one supposes. Amobi Okoye, Bears: This kid's still only 24. Went belly-up in Houston and is finding himself with Chicago which wants to re-sign him. Mario Williams, Texans: Too expensive.Other names of note?Dave Ball, Raheem Brock, Red Bryant, Jonathan Fanene, Jeremy Mincey, Sione Pouha, Paul Soliai. Free agent forecast?Re-signing Carter and Anderson should be high priorities. Real interesting names out there like Carriker who could fill the Mike Wright role (high energy, pasty white guy). Making a run at either Carriker or Castillo couldn't hurt. Gerard Warren is always ready to roll, it seems, so the Pats could wait until July on him. The draft is well-stocked with these guys as well so New England probably won't go high-end at all.

Celtics-Cavs Game 4 preview: C's expect an aggressive LeBron

Celtics-Cavs Game 4 preview: C's expect an aggressive LeBron

CLEVELAND -- Marcus Smart made shots, Jonas Jerebko (10 points) outscored the entire Cleveland second unit by himself, and Kevin Love’s hot hand in the first half cooled off considerably in the second.

It was on so many levels the perfect storm for the Boston Celtics in Game 3 which ended with Avery Bradley getting a friendly bounce or two – OK, it was four bounces to be exact – that would be the difference in Boston’s 111-108 Game 3 win, which cut Cleveland’s lead in the best-of-seven series to 2-1.

But that perfect storm is now a thing of the past, which is why the Celtics are battening down the hatches for Hurricane James – LeBron James – in Game 4.

James scored just 11 points in Game 3 on 4-for-13 shooting.

Certainly, Boston’s defense had a role in James’ struggles.

But after looking to be a facilitator at the start of the game, James never flipped the switch to become a terminator.

So, as his teammates struggled with their shots in the second half, James didn’t ratchet up his aggression level to get buckets and in doing so, was just what the Celtics needed to get a much-needed victory.

Had Boston lost Game 3, this series being over would have been a mere formality with no team in NBA history has ever rallied from a 3-0 series deficit to advance to the next round of play.

But the Celtics are very much alive and well with a chance to even up the series at 2-2 with a victory tonight.

If they are to somehow find a way to beat the Cavs on their home floor a second straight game, it’ll most likely come after fending off a strong surge from James.

This season, James has been an offensive power following games in which he has scored less than 20 points in a game.

In the following game after he scores less than 20 points, James has averaged 27.8 points.

And his record in those games during the regular season was 10-3.

“He’s going to be aggressive,” said Boston’s Avery Bradley. “LeBron James understands how to play the game and he understands what his team needs from him. He’s most likely going to be a lot more aggressive. It’s our job to make sure we defend him as best we can; take other guys out of the game.”

Like Tristan Thompson who had 18 points but only took four shots (he made 3) to get it, as most of his scoring came from the free throw line after getting fouled.

“He had 12 free throws or something like that? He’s playing well for them,” Bradley said. ‘We have to try and limit him to less rebounds. It’s going to be hard. If we’re able to do that and guard the 3, I like our chances.”

Boston’s Al Horford anticipates seeing not just James but the entire Cavs roster try to be more aggressive at the start.

And that means as good as they did in Game 3, they’ll have to be even better tonight.

“On the defensive end, we feel there’s definitely a lot of room for improvement,” Horford told CSN. “We just have to come out and play.”

In Game 3, Boston fell behind by as many as 21 points but for the most part stayed within arm’s reach of the Cavaliers which was a major improvement over Games 1 and 2 in Boston.

And as the Celtics continued to climb back into Game 3, James’ lack of impact plays remained a mystery.

And while there are some who are quick to put Sunday’s loss on James, not surprisingly his coach sees things differently.

“We're all to blame,” said Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue on Monday. “We lost; it happens. For a guy who played great for five straight months, he's got to have a bad game sooner or later. He's human. He didn't shoot the ball well. It wasn't his ordinary game. But Kevin (Love) and Kyrie (Irving) had it going early and they played well, so it kind of got him out of rhythm a little bit in that first half. That's no excuse. Like I said, they played well, but we've just got to play better, be more physical.”

After reviewing the video from Game 3, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was once again impressed with James for the most part making the right basketball play most of the game.

“When you've got guys that are all on fire the way they are, the right basketball play is to find them,” Stevens said. “He just made it over and over.

Stevens added, “The guy is a tremendous basketball player. He makes the right play over and over, and he thinks the game, he sees the game. He's a really good defender. He can read situations. So, I thought he was pretty darned good. But like I said (following Game 3), I'm not going to be critical of the best player in the world.”

Indeed, Stevens has far more important things to worry about, like bracing his players for the impending storm known to all as LeBron James.