Time Out for Sports Talk: A Spring Green-ing
Todd: I don’t want to speak for my fellow co-blogger in this space, but I’m willing to bet Mike’s expectations for the 2017-18 Boston Celtics were as low as mine after Gordon Hayward’s left leg awkwardly landed on the court five minutes into the season.
But incredibly enough, the Green managed to win 55 games, fourth best in the Association and two more wins than last year’s team that we thought had overachieved in a big way.
Then came Kyrie Irving’s chronic knee/patella issue and the news he would have surgery and be lost for the playoffs. Like a championship limbo competition, the bar was again lowered tremendously.
Yet here we are, Celtics fans – Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cavaliers, a rematch from last year with only 9 of the 24 players from those rosters returning for the sequel and two NBA All-Stars dressed in street clothes on the C’s bench. Yet despite all that going against the Green, they lead King James’ Cavs two games to none.
To quote the late Chris Farley, Holy Schnikes!!
It’s the first time LeBron has trailed 0-2 in an ECF since 2008. In case you forgot, that was against Pierce, KG, Allen, et al turning the trick a decade ago en route to Boston Banner 17.
Has this C’s playoff run come completely out of nowhere or what? Comparisons could be made between this year’s Celtics and the 2001 Patriots, with some of the similarities being downright surreal. I discussed some of these earlier this week on our TV show (which you can watch here), although I missed one of the most obvious parallels.
No, it wasn’t the fact that Drew Bledsoe attended one of the C’s playoff games and swapped jerseys with Terry Rozier. Even more eerie is the fact that like Bledsoe, Kyrie wears #11. Both guys got hurt and were replaced at their respective positions by a player wearing #12. Oh yeah, point guards and quarterbacks are similar positions, with both responsible for calling the offensive plays on the court/field.
I certainly didn’t expect “TR12” a/k/a Scary Terry to step in for Kyrie and raise his game to a new level. Especially on the TD Garden floor, where Rozier and the Celts are 9-0 this postseason, their longest home playoff winning streak since those 2008 champs.
Nor did I expect Boston’s top two playoff scorers to be 21 y/o Jaylen Brown and 20 y/o rookie Jayson Tatum. Has this dynamic duo been fun to watch? Wow and wow. Call me a homer, but as much as I like Anthony Davis, I’m not sure I’d trade either of these kids for the big guy, and I’m certain I wouldn’t trade either of them for anyone else.
History says the Celtics will move on to the NBA Finals, as they are 37-0 all-time when leading a best-of-7 playoff series 2-0. But as poorly as the Cavs (other than LeBron) have played so far, I expect LBJ will actually get some help from his teammates as this series shifts to the Cleve. He may also get some help from the officials if necessary, but you didn’t hear me say that. Don’t put these Celtics in the Finals just yet, but enjoy this ride and regardless of when it ends, it’s been thoroughly entertaining.
Some quick thoughts on the Red Sox, because as a Boston sports fan I have to be angry about something, right? Truth is, Boston’s 30 wins are the most in MLB, yet there are a couple of items that came to light this week that grind my gears.
First, Carson Smith, a/k/a The Fragile One. He’s pitched less than 25 innings over 3 seasons since Dave Dombrowski acquired him in a trade with the Mariners, and is back on the DL because after giving up a home run this week, he tossed his glove in frustration and dislocated his arm. He then said that fatigue played a factor, essentially blaming his manager and pitching coach. No Carson, I think fragility and stupidity were the determining factors in why you’ve likely pitched your last game in a Sox uniform.
Then there’s Blake Swihart. Forget for a moment that his agent told the Sox he wants to be traded. Three years ago, this switch-hitting catcher showed promise swinging the bat and had me thinking he was the Sox’ future behind the plate. Then the organization tried converting him into an outfielder, which was an unmitigated disaster. Mike and I attended the game two years ago when he messed up his ankle and set back his development.
Now out of options, Swihart rots at the end of Boston’s bench with 30 at-bats in 44 games. I don’t understand why Alex Cora couldn’t use Swihart to back up Christian Vazquez, but he apparently loves the way he and Sandy Leon call a game (despite their combined .184 batting average). Sadly, Dombrowski will likely trade Swihart by midseason for a 3-month bullpen rental, while the 26 y/o moves on to another team and carves out a solid career as a good-hitting catcher, a rarity in today’s game.
Mike: The last time we did this, I declared the Celtics done, and said they had a nice run, but they weren't getting by Philly.
I've never been so glad to be wrong.
This has been one of the more enjoyable Celtics teams for me to watch in quite some time. I admit I'm a little late to the game, as I haven't followed closely all year, but I have watched both Cleveland games, and I am hooked.
I like the way this team plays, they are all on the same page, which is a huge tribute to the coach. Many teams (I'm looking at you Cleveland), would have folded after losing their two biggest players, but Brad Stevens has got this team two wins away from the NBA Finals.
And the best thing? They are there a year early, which means when Irving and Hayward come back next season, they are adding two all-stars to the team, and they would have to be one of the favorites to win it all.
And it's all thanks to the wheeling and dealing of Danny Ainge. We finally have a worthy successor to Red Auerbach.
As for the Sox? I'm with Todd, Carson Smith is a moron. He puts himself on the DL because he threw a tantrum, and then blames it on the fact that he was tired? Sorry, it doesn't wash with me.
Get him out of town Dave Dombrowski, Danny Ainge would.
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