The first day of spring officially began on March 20th. Sitting here at the end of April, I wish there was a more hopeful spring. The Bruins and Celtics are both out of the playoffs, leaving the NBA and NHL irrelevant for Boston sports fans. The Sox now a month into the season sit above .500 and in second place in the AL East, which is a decent start. However after the Celtics lose game six on their home floor in Boston, something does not feel right in major Boston sports. The Spring has been an overall disappointment.
Celtics: At the end of March the Celtics were well determined to be the 3 seed in the East for the playoffs. They ended up falling apart and playing the 4 seeded Atlanta Hawks, as the 5 seed. In the Spring the Celtics went 10-8 including playoffs. While over .500, many people thought that the Celtics had a real chance this year to beat the Cavs or the Warriors.
They struggled of late and couldn’t even get to a game 7 with the Hawks. A disappointing post season, as they couldn’t even force a game 7, playing on their home floor, or steal a game on the road in Atlanta, not an intimating place to play.
Overall the season was a success for the Celtics, as they were on the brink of the playoffs at the beginning of the season, but showed they could contend, which I’m sure Brad Stevens is thrilled about. Looking forward the Celtics are focusing on a few things, starting with the draft and then free agency.
As much as people want to think that the Celtics can pick up both Ben Simmons out of LSU and Kevin Durant from the Thunder. It isn’t going to happen. Starting with Kevin Durant, the OKC Thunder just won their series 4-1 with ease. And the owner of the team, was quoted on record saying that, ” Kevin Durant is the only superstar on the team.” Completely ignoring Russell Westbrook.
When you get a superstar in any sport, you do whatever you have to do to keep them. Durant isn’t going any where. If he were to leave I can understand Boston begin in the mix, but Danny Ainge, as of late, has been known to take young talent over paying a superstar. The more realistic thing would be for the Celtics to come out of the lottery with a top 5 pick from the Nets and select someone more like Kris Dunn, Jamal Murray, or Buddy Hield, all very good guards.
If they were to get a top two pick, they have the third best odds, the easy choice would be either Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram. With these picks the Celtics become more of a free agent target city.
However if they were to land a big name free agent don’t be surprised if they deal their draft pick to get some cap room and another future pick. The Hint: Knicks, Nets and Lakers are desperate again! While everyone wants the best possible scenario of Simmons and Durant, more likely to end up with a Hield and do I hear Batum, Beal, DeRozan, Conely? A lot of big names, but also a lot of older ones, and I think that the young talent will stay put. A good upside overall with an exciting summer and fall to come.
Bruins: At the beginning of the spring we thought that the Bruins could wind up with a 6-8 seed. Well they didn’t get anything. The B’s didn’t have the year they wanted to. Everyone knows that. Hockey in the 2016 playoffs is in with the new, out with the old. As not one Canadian team made the playoffs, and only half of the original six teams made it, while none of them advanced to the second round.
While teams like the Predators, Blues, Stars, and Islanders all have decent shots to advance to the conference finals. A new age of the NHL. For the Bruins let’s start with personnel. Chara. He’s old. We know. Can he perform like he used to? No. Should he have to? No. As Boston sports fans do we expect him to? Yes. Look at our golden boy Tom Brady. Like fine wine he has only gotten better with age.
But you cannot ignore that the core of the team is falling apart. There is still a solid group of young guys but, they don’t have what it takes to be a high scoring and powered offense like today’s NHL. They are too between the old style of hit anything that moves until it doesn’t, and score score score.
They are left in the gap of the evolving NHL, but they don’t have the talent level to still compete with the rest of the NHL so they are left in the now pile. With the draft coming up and free agency to come, I’m not sure what Cam Neely will do. Rebuild which is something Boston teams don’t do, or press the issue and push forward with what you have. We will see.
However the bigger issue. Claude Julien. Fire him? Keep him? Simple decision in my book. As great as a coach Claude is, what does he represent? The Old Bruins. If and I make clear if, Neely wants to move on with entire team and evolve no problem, fire Claude. However if they keep most of the team keep Claude, he is still a good coach, but is he the right symbol for what Neely wants I think is the bigger question.
I see the Bruins in a similar situation as the 2011 Red Sox. They have had some success with Terry Francona, but it was time for something new, so they went with in my opinion a gap year coach in Bobby Valentine, someone crazy enough to shake up everything, but someone who couldn’t win to keep him, in comes John Farrell. Who leads them to a world series. What does Neely want? We will have our eyes on it as hockey season approaches in the fall.
Patriots: I don’t want to blow this up into Deflate-gate Part 2, but it is. The Pats have not had a good spring. While you cannot complain about their off-season signings and workouts, not having a first round draft picks hurts no matter what Kraft or Belichick says. Whether or not Bill would have even used it or traded it, doesn’t matter. The idea of it not begin there hurts.
It is one less player that Belichick can turn into a superstar, or three third rounders that may be career special team until the staff says, wait he can play x. Then their is the appeal of the Brady case, as the four game suspension is reinstated. The court said, get this case off of my desk and let my decision play not part in it, NFL wins.
I can’t blame them, it’s an embarrassment to receive that case. Now technically from here it could go to the Supreme Court, and it just as good of a chance of going on Judge Judy as up the Supreme Court steps. Our higher power has much more important things than to determine whether or not Roger Goodell and the NFL took the right measures and procedures to penalize Tom Brady in his role, which is very questionable, for magically deflated footballs.
Goodell should know, he lives in Manhattan, it gets pretty damn cold in January in Massachusetts, things happen, some PSI comes out, and then Goodell starts acting like he is in charge and slaps people wrists. Regardless of how much this pisses off the entire area of New England, Brady may not be on that field for the first four games against the Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans, and Buffalo Bills. Jimmy!!
Gotta love Garoppolo. I have all confidence in him to go 2-2 if not 3-1, and then let Brady come in and the season officially begin as the Pats go on to win 5 or so in a row. Jimmy could have the best 4 game stretch of any QB of all time, and it still will not matter, I guarantee one thing, Tom Brady will be under center October 9th in Cleveland, Ohio. INCOMING MESSAGE TO ALL FOOTBALL FANS: THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS WILL BE FINE.
Season are determined starting with the last four games of the regular season and postseason as long as they are in contention for the rest of the time. Things will work themselves out and when winter comes rolling around and Brady comes back, as the nights cool down, the team will be heating up.
Red Sox: Our only Spring hope. The Red Sox are our spring flowers this year. Instead of contending for a Stanley Cup or NBA Championship, we actually have to watch baseball this early in the year. I’m not complaining. The way the Sox look, we could be in for a very fun Summer.
The only thing I will complain about is why the MLB schedules so many night games in April when it’s 40 degrees. That’s playoff baseball. DAY GAMES. Going into May in second place sounds good with me. And like any other baseball season the good teams work themselves out in the dog days of summer. Whoever can win the majority of games in a three month period playing everyday, not only is the best team, but they deserve it. The Sox should heat up as temps rise in the greater Boston area. See you at Fenway.