Rivers admits flawed gameplan

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Rivers admits flawed gameplan

TORONTO Part of the game plan on Friday was to find a way to get his starters some in-game rest by subbing some of them out early, and bringing them back into the game late in the second quarter.

Needless to say, that plan is likely to find a place on the playbook scrap heap following the Boston Celtics' 84-79 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Friday.

C's coach Doc Rivers acknowledged his plan to rest some of his players may have been a contributing factor to the team's less than stellar play against a Raptors team that has had very little success this season.

"I messed their rhythm up a little bit in the first half," Rivers said. "I told them I wasn't going to play them a lot of minutes and give them rest, and then try to make a charge in the second half. I don't think we handled that very well."

The starters pulled ahead by as many as nine points in the first quarter, and the bench helped extend the lead to as many as 13 points in the second quarter. Rivers then brought back most of his starters to close out the second quarter.

And that's when trouble arrived.

The double-digit lead was cut all the way down to just six points, 36-30, at the half. And the momentum gained by Toronto to end the half, carried over into the third quarter.

"We knew we had this game in the first half," said Toronto's DeMar DeRozan who had a game-high 22 points. "It was a six-point game at halftime and we knew if we turned it up and just started to be aggressive on both ends, we could win this game and that's what we did."

For Rivers, it was yet another lesson that he hopes both he and the C's can move forward from and maybe most important, build off of tonight against New Jersey.

"Again, you keep learning your team," Rivers said. "I thought we came out almost in a slow, cool mood, and I thought I activated that somehow."

Although most of his players were on the floor for their usual allotment of minutes, it was how those minutes were doled out that Rivers, in hindsight, saw as being problematic.

"By sitting them that long and not playing them a lot in the first half, I thought I may have lost their rhythm."

There was no question that from the C's perspective, there was a lack of fire from the very start of the third quarter. And even as the Raptors steadily pulled away, the urgency was still missing up until the last couple of minutes.

"We should have come out with better urgency in the third quarter," said Paul Pierce. "When you give a team like this some confidence, anything can happen in an NBA game. I thought we gave them a lot of confidence in the third quarter and it carried over."

Said Rajon Rondo: "Give them credit. We dug a hole too deep and we couldn't get out of it."

Fortunately for the Celtics, there's no time to dwell on what went wrong against the Raptors, not with a road game at the New Jersey Nets Saturday night.

The C's will certainly try and get back on track, and they'll look to do so with Rivers likely to go back to playing and resting his starters the way he has done for most of this season - a quick but necessary departure from the plan implemented on Friday that by all accounts - Rivers included - simply did not work.

"I won't do this," Rivers said. "That's for sure."

Report: Patriots, Gronkowski restructure contract for 2017 season

Report: Patriots, Gronkowski restructure contract for 2017 season

The Patriots and Rob Gronkowski have restructured the tight end’s contract for the coming season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. 

The reworked deal can bump Gronkowski’s salary for the 2017 season from $5.25 million to $10.75 million, according to Schefter. 

From Schefter on Facebook:  

Specific details on Rob Gronkowski's new deal with Patriots, per @RosenhausSports:

1st tier, which gets him to $10.75M either 90 percent play time or 80 catches or 1200 receiving yards or All Pro -- and he's made All Pro four times.

2nd tier to $8.75M: he has to get 80 percent play time or 70 catches or 1000 receiving yards or 12 TDs.

3rd tier takes him to $6.75M is 70 percent playtime, 60 receptions, 800 receiving yards or 10 TDs.

But a big new groundbreaking deal for Gronk.

Gronkowski was limited by injury to just eight games last season. He had 25 receptions for 540 yards and three touchdowns, all of which were career lows. 

The 28-year-old is entering his eighth NFL season since being selected by the Pats in the second round of the 2010 draft. He has played played in at least 15 regular-season games in four of his first seven season, though he’s twice played fewer than 10. 

Brandin Cooks ready to bring back arrow celebration after NFL rule change

Brandin Cooks ready to bring back arrow celebration after NFL rule change

Tuesday’s announcement from Roger Goodell that the NFL is “relaxing” its rules on celebrations is good news for at least one Patriot. 

That would be Brandin Cooks, who began celebrating the rule change on Twitter not long after the league made its announcement. 

Cooks, whom the Patriots acquired from the Saints this offseason in a trade that sent first and third-round picks to New Orleans, lost his favorite celebration last season when it was made clear that miming archery was off-limits. Josh Norman was fined $10,000 last season for such a celebration. 

Following Norman’s fine, Cooks lamented the league’s decision to punish what Cooks had previously done in reference to a Bible verse (Psalms 144:6). 

"Send forth lightning and scatter your enemy, and shoot your arrows and rout them," Cooks told the New Orleans Advocate. "I just remember it sticking with me for such a long time, I remember thinking, maybe I can do something with this."

Added Cooks: ”I’ve been doing it for three years now, and there was never a complaint about it. Now, all of a sudden, there is. It just reminds me that, it's almost as if they try to take so much away from us, but for something like this, that means so much to someone that has nothing to do with violence, it's frustrating. I'll definitely continue to speak my opinion about it, and if they have a problem with it, so be it."

When Tuesday’s news emerged, Cooks and former Saints teammate Mark Ingram were quick to react.