Plaxico Burress preparing to face former team

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Plaxico Burress preparing to face former team

From Comcast SportsNet Thursday, August 25, 2011
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) -- Plaxico Burress walked into the New York Giants' training facility a few weeks ago and saw a familiar face. There he was, in a larger-than-life picture hanging on a wall, making the catch that beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl in 2008. It was a great moment for Burress, whose Giants career was over and his NFL future in doubt less than a year later. "There's no anger toward anybody over there," said the Jets wide receiver, now on the other side of the New York-New Jersey-area rivalry. "Everything that happened to me, I brought it upon myself." The fines by the team. The disagreements with coach Tom Coughlin. His release in April 2009. The 20-month prison sentence he served for accidentally shooting himself in a Manhattan nightclub. Some fans and media believed the Giants had a good chance of going back to the Super Bowl before that incident. They finished 12-4, but lost to Philadelphia in the divisional round of the playoffs. "We had a really good team, there's no doubt about it," he said. "We definitely had some special players. We had a good thing going. It's unfortunate that everything happened the way that it did. "I've moved on." After he was released and looking to resume his playing career, he visited Coughlin, Giants co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch and general manager Jerry Reese. It wasn't so much to become a member of the Giants again, but to put his mind and conscience at peace. "I went back more to have some closure to the situation," Burress said Wednesday. "It was good to see (them) and be able to have an opportunity to really sit down face-to-face with them for the first time, and just tell them how much I appreciated them bringing me in and allowing my game to flourish and put me in a situation where I could have some success. "Everything went well. It was a great meeting. Business is business, and now I'm over here." No longer in blue, Burress is catching passes in green these days -- still wearing that familiar No. 17 -- and will play his former team Saturday night. "There's not any extra added incentive or juice or whatever you want to call it," he said. "It's a preseason game. I have a lot of work to do personally, as far as me getting better and contributing to this football team." That doesn't mean Burress isn't excited to see some of his friends again, players who visited him while he was in prison and shared some of his greatest moments on the field. "It's going to be fun, man," Burress said. "I'm still in contact with a lot of those guys. We definitely did something special." Giants quarterback Eli Manning didn't visit Burress in jail, but called him a few weeks after he was released. "He was a great teammate for the Giants," Manning said. "He had a great run. Things happened and, honestly, he is with the Jets now and playing well and I am happy for him and look forward to seeing him. I haven't seen him in a long time." The Giants saw a familiar sight in Burress' Jets debut Sunday night when he made a terrific over-the-shoulder touchdown catch in New York's preseason win over Cincinnati. "I really do think Plaxico, definitely with his first outing, is making the best of his situation and I'm happy for him," Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said. "He deserves every attribute and every good thing that is coming his way now." Burress also met with the Steelers during free agency, and could have gone back to the team his started his career with. Instead, he chose to join Rex Ryan's Jets without even making a visit. "Personally, I just think I needed a fresh start," he said. "If I wanted to go somewhere and get more money, I could've went to a couple more places and signed a two- or three-year deal, different things like that. I just wanted to put myself in a situation to go somewhere fresh and have an opportunity to play for a great organization and for a great head coach in Rex and a great team. "I feel that I'm in the right place." Burress mentioned Ryan's quest for a Super Bowl and how that appealed to him, calling the coach's approach "contagious." "I feel I'm at home," he said. "I made the right decision and I'm happy I'm just playing football." After being slowed by a sprained ankle to start training camp with his new team, Burress completed his NFL comeback with his three-catch performance against the Bengals. He had a sore lower back Wednesday, but fully practiced and should be out there with the Jets' starting offense into the third quarter. Despite Burress downplaying the significance of the game, his former teammates know better. "Going up against him, all of us are competitors," Tuck said, "and I'm sure he is going to try to make a splash and we're going to try to make sure he doesn't." Burress' new teammates also know this game isn't just any other -- even if it's only preseason. "Well, he's excited," quarterback Mark Sanchez said. "But, he's a pro and he's done this for so long that he won't have any distractions." Ryan wondered how the crowd at MetLife Stadium -- it's a Giants home game -- will respond when Burress takes the field or makes a play. "I'm really not sure, and I'm really not too concerned about it," Burress said. "I'm going to go out and have fun. I'm doing this with a smile on my face with a new attitude." Notes: A day after Tuck told reporters the teams' new playing home will always be known as Giants Stadium, Jets WR Santonio Holmes disagreed. "It's the Meadowlands," he said. "It's the home of the New York Jets. That's all I'll say about that." ... Sanchez wore an FDNY T-shirt to promote a charity event that will benefit the NY Police & Fire Widows & Children's Benefit Fund -- www.answerthecall.org -- for families affected by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The shirts, created by Muze Clothing, can be purchased through Sanchez's Facebook page. Sanchez's father, Nick, is a firefighter in California.

Celtics overcome big game from George to beat Pacers, 109-100

Celtics overcome big game from George to beat Pacers, 109-100

BOSTON – Having already clinched a playoff spot prior to Wednesday’s game, no one would have been shocked to see them come out and play fat-and-happy basketball.

Especially against an Indiana Pacers team that’s hungry for a win to bolster their playoff position.

But the Celtics continue to show us that they are a different team than the one that far too often failed to stack strong performances on top of one another.

That was not the case on Wednesday as they pulled away in the second half for an impressive 109-100 win over the Pacers.

Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 25 points and five assists. His backcourt mate Avery Bradley was solid as well, scoring 18 points to go with eight rebounds. Jae Crowder and Al Horford each had 15 points while Kelly Olynyk had another strong showing off the bench with 11 points and eight rebounds along with four assists.

With the win, Boston (46-26) swept the regular season series 3-0. While it’s unlikely they will finish in a tie record-wise with the Pacers, there is the possibility that they could meet in the first round of the playoffs next month.

Knowing they haven’t lost to the Pacers all season could be a huge mental plus for Boston if in fact their first-round foe was Indiana.  

Wednesday’s game was the first between these two with most of their respective rosters at full strength.

And the Celtics at full strength, regardless of the opponent, have been pretty tough to beat.

But the Pacers (36-35) weren’t going to make this easy for Boston, even as they fell behind by as many as 17 points to the Celtics.

Paul George, who led all scorers with 37 points, began to lead the Pacers back into the game with a strong fourth quarter showing.

And when Boston’s defense tried to adjust to George’s jacuzzi-hot scoring, he got others like Jeff Teague involved.

Teague, who had 25 points, made a 3-pointer that cut Boston’s lead to 93-86 with 6:31.

That was enough for Celtics head coach Brad Stevens who called a time-out.

After a pair of Isaiah Thomas misses, the Celtics got a little more cushion following a mid-range jumper by Olynyk.

While Indiana continued to get timely offensive rebounds, the Celtics went into bend-but-don’t-break mode defensively down the stretch.

And while the Pacers certainly were in the game, there was never a moment down the stretch when Boston’s impending victory was in doubt.

Both teams set the tone defensively in the first half which was a relatively low-scoring affair.

That should not come as a surprise considering how well each team has played of late at that end of the floor.

Since the All-Star break, Boston has the third-best defense in the NBA while the Pacers aren’t far behind, coming in at No. 6.

A 3-pointer by Bradley to close out the second quarter gave Boston a 49-42 lead at the half.

Boston’s control of the game remained solid through most of the third, but an 8-3 spurt by the Celtics to close out the third put ahead 88-74 going into the fourth.

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Strong defense standing out

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Strong defense standing out

BOSTON – Boston and Indiana know there’s a chance they could face off next month in the playoffs, with both teams delivering the kind of defensive performance on Wednesday that highlighted two teams playing with a heightened sense of urgency fueled by tough, physical defense.

It was indeed a “Both Teams Played Hard” kind of first half which ended with Boston ahead 49-42.

Avery Bradley drained a 3-pointer that just beat the halftime horn which gave Boston its biggest lead of the half.  

The tone was set by both teams with a low-scoring first quarter in which the defenses for both teams stood out.

It really should not have been that big a surprise considering how well both teams have defended since the all-star break.

Boston has the third-best defense in the NBA since the break, while the Pacers have proven to be no slouch coming in at No. 6.

After falling behind 37-36 in the second, Boston ran off eight straight to lead 44-37 which was their largest lead of the game at this point.

But the Pacers stayed within striking distance in large part because the Celtics’ unusually high number of turnovers.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Wednesday’s game between the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers.

 

STARS

Paul George

A four-time All-Star, George was scoring but the Celtics made him work a lot harder than he would like. He leads all scorers with 14 points, but has done so on 4-for-11 shooting.

Isaiah Thomas

Like George, the opposing team’s defense made for a rough first half. Thomas still managed to lead the Celtics with 10 points.

 

STUDS

Jeff Teague

He really went at Isaiah Thomas to start the game, and for the most part it was working for him. He had 11 points on 4-for-7 shooting in the first half.

Jae Crowder

Solid defense and timely shot-making made for a solid first half for Crowder. He had nine points on 4-for-7 shooting.

Avery Bradley

He did more than deliver a timely shot to end the half for Boston. He had nine points on 4-for-6 shooting in addition to grabbing four rebounds while being one of the main contributors defensively to Paul George not having an efficient night shooting the ball.  

 

DUDS

Celtics turnovers

By far the biggest concern Boston has heading into the second half. The Celtics average 13.2 turnovers per game. They had 14 in the first half, which led to 17 points for the Pacers. Boston’s season-high for turnovers is 24 which they racked up against Philadelphia on Feb. 15.