The Bruins and Celtics may not contend for championships this year, but it doesn’t make their seasons any less significant. As the impressive late-season play of the Red Sox’s young players showed us, sometimes lost campaigns can bear fruit.
That’s not to say the Bruins or Celtics will be as bad as the Red Sox, by the way. Both teams will likely contend for a playoff spot, and the Bruins in particular could make some noise—Thursday night’s debacle not withstanding.
But at this stage, you can probably count on having your Memorial Day free of hockey and basketball. That’s not necessarily the worst thing in the world, either. You won’t have to check your watch every five minutes at the annual family cookout, obsessed with getting home for “the game.” (You may want to get out of there for other reasons, but that’s a different conversation.)
Still, there are plenty of reasons to consume yourself with the B’s and C’s this season. You may need to watch them this fall, too, because the Patriots should already be booking their Super Bowl tickets.
Will Claude Stay or Will He Go?
Team president Cam Neely may say it’s “unfair to think Claude Julien is on the hot seat,” but it certainly looks that way. It took new general manager Don Sweeney 16 days to commit to Julien after he was hired this spring, which is hardly a ringing endorsement.
The longest-tenured coach in the NHL is just 36 victories of shy of passing Art Ross as the winningest coach in Bruins history, but Julien may not get that far this season—especially if how the B’s played during the opener is a harbinger of things to come. A slow start could sink him, and throw this year of transition into full-swing.
Amidst a sea of change, it’s important to take comfort in familiarity, and few players embody what Bruins hockey is about more than Patrice Bergeron.
Bergeron, 30, is the consummate two-year player, as he’s won the Selke Trophy three times in four years. The face of the franchise signed an eight-year contract extension with the club in 2013, and his number 37 seems destined to wind up in the Garden rafters once he hangs up the skates.
Isaiah Thomas Is Little Big Man
— Kyle George (@kyoo) October 8, 2015
The 5-foot-9 headband-wearing, shoot-first point guard lifted the Celtics from irrelevancy and into the playoffs after the team acquired him last February. He averaged 19 points per game in Boston last season, and was a spark plug for the C’s in the sixth-man role. The Cavaliers’ first-round sweep of the Celtics showed an undersized brash point guard can only take a team so far, but the ride promises to be fun for as long as it lasts.
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge isn’t afraid to be bold, and he demonstrated that in a big way last season. Ainge pulled of seven trades during the 2014-15 campaign in an attempt to collect as many assets as possible to set the Celtics up for their next championship run. Expect the wheeling and dealing to continue this year as the roster continues to get reshaped.
Brad Stevens Is One Damn Good Basketball Coach
Sure, Stevens looks like his mom dressed him up for a bar mitzvah, but man, he can coach. Stevens’ adroit sideline maneuverings and play calls are a big reason why the Celtics won 20 of their final 29 games last season.
If the Celtics pull off any big upsets this year, they’ll likely have Stevens’ adept mind to thank. There’s a reason why Ainge inked him to a six-year contract before he even coached an NBA game.
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