Report From Celtics Practice

The Boston Celtics are coming off consecutive wins in Atlanta and Charlotte and look to extend their winning streak on Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies. They had a great practice today really meshing well as one unit and having a much stronger understanding of the tasks at hand.

Today was Avery Bradley's birthday and he didn't receive a happy birthday serenade from his teammates, but jokingly said that he is expecting and demanding it tomorrow prior to the game. Kelly Olynyk and Rajon Rondo were missing from practice today as they both were tending to their injuries and Keith Bogans was limited in practice because he is recovering from flu-like symptoms. The main focus in practice today was to find a way to beat the 7-7 Grizzlies and the Celtics feel confident that they can get the job done. Here are the keys for the Celtics to nabbing their 7th win of the season.

Don't Let the Grizzlies Control the Pace: The Boston Celtics and the Memphis Grizzlies have two different distinct ways to control the pace of the game. The Grizzlies like to slow down the pace of the game and that's how they've been successful in the past. The Celtics just need to keep the fast-paced offense going and the solid defense needs to stay intact also or the Grizzlies will take control of the game.

Don't Let Mike Conley Get Comfortable: Memphis' leading scorer Mike Conley is averaging 18.8 points per game this season. When Conley gets hot, he stays hot. Conley is the main facilitator of the Grizzlies offense and it is going to have to be a solid team effort to not let him shooting lights out all night long. Jordan Crawford, Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee and Phil Pressey will have their hands full to keep Conley in front of them on defense and don't give him any scoring chances.

Take Advantage of No Marc Gasol: The Grizzlies have lost the reigning defensive player of the year Marc Gasol indefinitely with a sprained MCL. Since Gasol's injury, the Grizzlies have given up 97.5 points per game and allowed their opponents to shoot on average 51.4 percent in those games. The Grizzlies will still put on a tough defensive game, but now that they don't have Gasol, it will be a huge advantage for the Celtics to capitalize on scoring chances.

The Boston Celtics lost their first meeting with the Grizzlies down in Memphis 95-88, but have a lot of advantages to winning this one on Wednesday because they have seen Memphis already once. The game will tip-off at 7:30pm at the TD Garden.

Joe Chancler

What to do With Stevan Ridley

After a debacle of a first half in which the New England Patriots fell behind 24-0, perhaps the more looming question in New England today is what to do with the Patriots starting running back Stevan Ridley. After letting the game set in and looking back, you have to move on. 


Is it safe to say Brady and this passing game is back? Over the past three games, Brady has thrown for 432, 296 and 344 yards. Brady has thrown for eight touchdowns and one interception. Gronkowski has had a touchdown in each of the last three games and posted 143, 59 and 90 yards in those games. You don't need Ridley's "talent" to get by anymore. 

So let's talk about the talent that Ridley so convincingly has the advantage over the rest of the running backs, or does he? The average yards per rush are as follows: Ridley 4.3; Blount 4.6; Vereen 5.6; Bolden 5.2. So how about that talent? 

Ridley has now fumbled the ball three times while rushing and one time receiving and enough is enough. He's fumbled the ball in three consecutive games and the issue is now officially in his head. Give the ball to the undrafted guys that actually rush for a higher average and don't give up the ball. 

Maybe when Ridley signed his four year, close to three million dollar deal, he should have focused on how to perfect his craft. Fumbling is sometimes based on great defensive plays, but consistent fumbling is caused by poor technique. 

If you're with me thinking of ridding the New England Patriots with Stevan Ridley, just know he's signed until 2015 when he becomes a free agent. I would consider swallowing his 777,750 dollars for next season and cutting him. He's not necessary to the success of the Patriots and that is fact.

Josh Brown

This is the video that coach Bill Belichick showed his team when they came into practice on Tuesday after a controversial call on Monday Night Football ended the game.

Focus your attention on the game winning drive and, more importantly 3:50-4:00 minutes, when the same kind of penalty that happened in the Patriots game happened in this classic Lions verses Browns game back in 2009.

As the video shows, the Lions ended up getting a last-second, untimed play as the last play of the game and scored a touchdown to win it 38-37.

Perhaps Belichick showed this to make his players understand they can't rely on a referee's call, or he showed them to communicate what most of the world thinks and that is that the Patriots got screwed in the final play of that game. Belichick's message after was simply, move on from it.

Either way, the Patriots can't focus on the past or calls in a game and the showing of that video likely motivated the group. They need to focus on the upcoming matchup and on how they can win games without it coming down to a referee's call. Relying on calls sets team's up for failure and that is something that can't be done.

The Patriots will look to focus on the part of the game that they can control and that effort starts on Sunday Night Football this week.

Josh Brown

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning were on different conference calls yesterday with members of the media and here's some of the takeaways:

Brady was asked about his comments back in 2009 when he claimed he liked throwing in the colder weather: "Well, that particular game, I thought it was an advantage for our offense. I think different weather conditions call for more offensive football or more defensive football. On that particular snowy day (we've played in a few of those) I always feel it's conducive to the offense because of the footing, mostly. The ball stays dry so you can throw it accurately. When it's snowing, their footing doesn't end up being very good. That was a pretty good day."

In a lot of ways I like the answer and it's completely accurate as I look for weather to be a factor. Peyton Manning hasn't had many opportunities to play in bad weather, as he played most of his career in a dome, so it could be an advantage for the Patriots. The early forecast for the game is high teens for a temperature at night and a 15 MPH wind, which in that temperature can be brutal.

What could very well be an advantage for the Denver Broncos is their 5'8 slot receiver Wes Welker. Welker suffered a concussion, but looks like he'll be on the right track to play. Both quarterbacks had high praise for Welker and what he does on and off the field as far as preparation:

Manning on Welker:

"He's got great football knowledge, certainly just from all the different ways teams have tried to cover him, the different types of double coverages or whatnot. Just because of the experience going against that, he may know maybe the best way to possibly counter that, or a good a route to try to run against this particular defense, and so I've just had great respect for his knowledge of the game, and as a player who appreciates the cerebral part of the game, that's been very impressive to witness."

Brady on Welker: "Well, (Welker's) got a great understanding of the game and feel for coverages, defense, how to run routes, how to set up routes. I know that he's got great awareness."

Welker could be a pivotal part in how the Broncos offense wants to exploit the Patriots defense. Defensively, the Patriots don't match up well against Denver, but then again who does? With Talib in there, you likely want to put him on Demaryius Thomas because of the height and he's the Broncos best weapon. Arrington will likely be on Welker because of the quickness. It's also worth mentioning that Welker has seen this defense and knows where to strike it.

Manning on Talib: "(Talib's) an excellent cover corner, and he did an excellent job on Julio Jones and, like I said, that shows you the confidence they have in him. He is just a top-notch cover corner; great speed and great size."

The Patriots should be willing to give up whatever Eric Decker brings the Broncos by putting the inexperienced Logan Ryan on him because Decker hasn't had the same kind of year as Welker and both Demaryius Thomas and tight end Julius Thomas.

The X's and O's of the Manning-Brady games are always fascinating, but in this case it could spell disaster for the Patriots on defense. The good news is, though the Patriots lost on Monday night, the offense still gained 390 yards on 67 plays and showed an ability to move the ball against the number one defense in Carolina.

Brady on the Denver Defense: "A lot of the same players. But they're 9-1. They can rush the quarterback. As soon as Denver gets a lead, which they obviously have had a lot of leads, they really can get after the quarterback."

Not to disrespect the Broncos, but they don't have a great defense and scoring opportunities will arise. It is all going to depend on if Brady and the first year receivers can be on the same page and execute plays that lead to first downs and touchdowns.

Brady on the new wide receivers: "Well, we've had quite a bit of – yeah, there are different challenges every year. I'd say, for the most part, our challenges were just incorporating different players into our running game, passing game – at all the skill positions. Like I said, last week was the first week where our roster has kind of been intact and we could really see what we're capable of. "

The Patriots will, once again, be at full strength on offense when Sunday Night Football takes place in just a few days. As far as Denver, they'll have to wait and see on Wes Welker as he jumps through the concussion-protocol hoops to get to play against his former team.

Josh Brown

The Celtics Miss the Leadership of KG

There was no doubt in fans and Celtics media members, that when the Celtics had to move on from Kevin Garnett they would be missing a real leader in the club house. Not to dwell on the past here at TitleTownTalk, but it's worth mentioning this since the Celtics have no one like that in the locker room currently.

The one in the video, Rajon Rondo is supposed to be this team's leader, but his leadership and intensity isn't even close to that of Garnett's. With rumors of Rondo to the Knicks leaking, I say keep Rondo not for the leadership aspect, but because the Knicks aren't giving you anything good for him. Don't take a loss on Rondo for the sake of being bad.

Furthermore, there is more than a single way to lead. It doesn't always have to be screaming, but it can be what Rondo offers, which is a quiet, lead by example kind of mentality. The Celtics, with a young team, could probably more benefit from someone like Garnett, but I think coach Brad Stevens has a little of that in him. To be a college coach you almost have to be a great cheerleader/motivator because these kids don't get paid.

As far as the veterans on the Celtics, they should take Rondo's approach to leadership on the court and run with it. Rondo makes players around him better and that's the ultimate goal of a leader.

TitleTownTalk Staff

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Reportedly, Tyler Seguin loves being in the shadows of the Dallas Cowboys and Dallas Mavericks in Texas. I have said it once and I'm sure I'll say it again at multiple times throughout the next few years, I think the Bruins gave up on Tyler Seguin too quickly, but here's a story that makes me think otherwise.

The Toronto Globe and Mail talked to Seguin and reported that Seguin doesn't seem to miss Boston much at all in fact:

"It's a breath of fresh air to be able to go the rink, play hockey, and then go about my business away from the rink, whether it's just walking around a mall or whatever. That's been a different adjustment, but I've enjoyed it. I definitely hang out with a lot more guys away from the rink. - I still have some of my best friends in Boston, people I talk to every single day, and players. The thing in Boston is you could only go to the guys' houses for dinner so many times! You want to hang out, go to the movies, whatever, and here you can do that a little bit more."

You take your 'fresh air' we prefer the CO2 filled air from the Boston sports analyst's deep breaths ripping Boston team's underperformers. The spotlight in Boston can be bright and it's not for everyone, but there have been players that have grown into roles in the spotlight. Just because you're shy by nature, it doesn't mean adapting to the star treatment is impossible. Things are only impossible when you don't try, like crashing into the boards or back-checking, right Seguin?

The deal is the Bruins figured that the Seguin-style of player isn't worth keeping because it doesn't fit the mold the Bruins have drawn out for the 'perfect Bruin.' I still say, why can't you have room for one player like Seguin on your roster? He didn't stop Bergeron or Seidenberg from doing what they do and Patrick Kane, of the Chicago Blackhawks, is a perfect example of someone on a gritty team that has no grit.

Right now, in fact, the Bruins leading goal scorer is Milan Lucic with just eight goals, paired with seven assists, while Seguin has already racked up 12 goals with 11 assists. Even with those numbers, it's hard to imagine he'd have the same success here because of the defense-first mentality in Boston under Coach Claude Julien.

The only thing I struggle with is the return. Basically, you swapped Seguin for Eriksson, but Eriksson hasn't been a huge contributor so far. Eriksson has four goals and five assists on the season. He missed some time, but sometimes when I watch him I wonder what he's doing.

The difference isn't big enough for me to criticize the Bruins as Boston ranks 14th in goals scored per game and the Stars rank just a few places ahead at 11th. That compared with the goals against, which the Bruins rank first in the league, and the Stars rank 19th, tells Seguin haters in Boston all they want to know about that trade. The Bruins are doing well and Seguin is doing well and that's that.

The Bruins did it for the goals against and for the structure of their defense. Seguin's partying wasn't the only factor and that is fact. Time will tell if it was the right decision, but Claude's system has been proven with a championship.

Josh Brown

The Patriots head into Carolina tonight, trying to show their dominance in the AFC by winning against the white-hot Carolina Panthers. The Panthers have won five straight including big wins against the San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons, but the Patriots have equally as impressive as they have won against the Saints and Falcons.

The biggest key in this game will be how the Patriots offensive line handles the Panthers defensive line and how the Patriots defensive front seven handles Cam Newton and the Panthers run game. This game will be a good test to see if the Patriots offense is really the one we saw hang 55 points against the Steelers or if that was a product of the competition they went against.

You're dealing with a bunch of studs on defense in Carolina and if any part of their team is legit, it's the defense. The Panthers are number one in total defense allowing just 283 total yards per game. The New Orleans Saints are number four on that same list, but the Patriots managed to score 30 points against them, but the Panthers only allow 12.8 points per game.

I said the biggest key is the Patriots offensive line holding down the Panthers extremely talented defensive line. The New England Patriots, like the Carolina Panthers have accrued 29 sacks on the year. As far as sacks allowed, they are one sack better than you allowing 25 sacks on Newton while you have allowed 26 on Brady.

Statistically it doesn't seem like an advantage for the Panthers, but their defensive line has an edge against the Patriots offensive line. They have athletic and big guys that can impose their will on an offensive line. The Panthers allow just 82 yards of rushing per game, which is what helps that pass attack. McDaniels needs to stick to the rushing game even if it isn't as effective as he'd like it to be.

The Patriots secondary is as banged up as can be as they have Arrington, Talib, Dennard and Gregory all on the injury list, but that won't be as much of a factor as it will be next week. The Panthers rank just 28th in passing and lack a real vertical threat as Steve Smith has aged. The bigger losses are the ones they suffered earlier in the year when Jarrod Mayo and Vince Wilfork went down.

Cam Newton has rushed for 266 yards on 63 attempts and 23 of those rushes resulted in first downs. It will be a killer for the Patriots to have Newton's receivers covered, but have drives stay alive due to his legs. Newton has rushed for four touchdowns on the year and it will surely be a focus of the Patriots to have a spy on him the entire game. The spy will probably be Hightower or Spikes.

This game has the potential to be one of the best games of the season in New England and it has a sort of mystique to it as it's hard to tell what you're going to get from either team. The Panthers have had losses to teams like Buffalo and Arizona while the Patriots have been so inconsistent on offense, but suddenly score 55 points in their last game and are coming off a bye week.

With the loss last night for Kansas City, the Patriots have an opportunity to gain ground and be a potential number one seed come playoff time and Tom Brady knows what it means to have the road to the Super Bowl travel through Foxboro. It's a big game for both teams and should be a good one.

Josh Brown 

Patriots-Panthers; Updated Injury Report

The New England Patriots head into Carolina, tonight on Monday Night Football, to take on the scorching hot Carolina Panthers, winners of five straight. Injuries have started to pile up in weeks one through ten so here's the updated injury report for tonight's game and the impact:

Carolina Panthers Injuries :

CB Drayton Florence (groin):The Panthers had signed cornerback Drayton Florence in the preseason, but after being unfulfilled in his abilities, they cut Florence and opted to go with younger guys at the position until injuries brought Florence back and an injury just might bring him back down to earth. Florence is listed as having a groin injury, but has been magnificent in the Panthers last two games as he sealed both wins against the Falcons and 49ers with late interceptions. He's listed as questionable and, if he is out there, he'll be mostly in dime packages as a third corner. That will place him on Edelman and if I'm Tom Brady, I'm testing Florence.

LB Chase Blackburn (foot injury): Blackburn has been ruled out for Monday night after he reinjured his foot last week against the San Francisco 49ers. Backup linebacker A.J. Klein will take his spot and Klein showed some ability last week making five tackles and two of those for losses and a sack. Still, if I'm the Patriots im running right at Klein to see where he's at as far as football shape.

DT Dwan Edwards (hamstring): Edwards is probable as he was a full participation in practice both Friday and Saturday.

TE Ben Hartsock (knee): Hartsock has been ruled out. G Chris Scott (knee): Scott will be sitting out.

New England Patriots Injuries :

CB Alfonzo Dennard (knee): perhaps the most surprising player out for the Patriots is Alfonzo Dennard, who injured himself in practice to the point where he's not playing. No one really knows what happened, but that sure is a big loss to an already injury plagued secondary.

S Steven Gregory (hand): once again, Gregory has been ruled out with a broken hand he suffered a few weeks ago. Taking Gregory's place will once again be the rookie Duron Harmon, who has one interception in both of the games he's started in place of Gregory.

CB Kyle Arrington (groin): Arrington is dealing with a groin injury, which makes a cornerback's job harder to do at a high level. This already battered secondary is hoping Arrington can suit up and play on Monday night. Arrington is listed as 'questionable.'

CB Aqib Talib (hip): the hip has been an off-and-on problem with Talib this season. The latest on Talib is that he made the trip and that means he will likely play. Talib is currently listed as 'questionable.'

The Patriots woes in the secondary continue to pile up as Dennard, Gregory, Arrington and Talib are all not 100 percent. This game shouldn't hurt the Patriots defense too much as the Panthers are ranked 28th in passing yards and they don't have too many threats at wide receiver. The previous injuries to Mayo and Wilfork hurt in this game a lot more as the Panthers have shown the ability to run with not only their running backs, but Cam Newton as well.

Josh Brown

TitleTownTalk on the Radio!

In case you missed it, TitleTownTalk has gone to the AM air waves on 980AM WCAP and we're talking sports baby!

The 'Fantasy Scorecard' is a newly formed show that enters the world of fantasy sports and has some of the best analysis out there. With Josh Brown from Boston's TitleTownTalk, paired with Steve Buchanan  and Brian Cloney formerly of Rotowire, you can be sure to get quality fantasy advice.

This mostly political radio station enters the sports world, full throttle, on the weekends with a lineup of great sports shows that talk NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and, of course, Fantasy. We're lucky to be a part of this and it's a great opportunity for our readers to get to know us as we go over some of the articles we covered throughout the week and talk some of the hot topics in the sports world!

Unlike the big stations like The Sports Hub and WEEI, there is a minimal wait to get through on the phone lines and you're getting the same quality content. Check it out today, or any Saturday, from 1:30PM to 3:00 PM. Tweet the show: @fantscorecard or at us at TitleTownTalk: @TitleTownTalkSB or just call into the show at 978-454-4980.

If you don't live in the Massachusetts area don't worry because you can still listen online here: http://980wcap.com/live.php or you can listen on your smart phone via the TuneIn application. The show is made for you so check it out!

Josh Brown

Rob Gronkowski Rap Song (video)

Rob Gronkowski is the focus of this rap song and it's embarassing.

Yesterday, it was reported by TMZ that Rob Gronkowski is also going to be in the feature film "Entourage." This star on the field is getting involved in a lot of different projects off the field and in the prime of his football career, how much can you love this as a fan?

I don't have a problem with him doing these things because the NFL is a short-lived business so it's smart to plan for the future, but at the same time I would be happier if he would just focus on being the best player on the field.

Maybe he is and it's possible to do both act and be in rap songs in your spare time, all while studying the playbook and competition. Maybe this takes nothing away from his game on the field and it probably doesn't, but I'd rather see him get through a full year before he does this stuff.

Josh Brown