Jerry Ballgame weighs in on all of the first place Boston teams.
You can imagine my surprise when I looked at today’s (Wednesday, December 11) Boston Globe sports section and realized that all three of major professional teams currently in operation were in first place in their respective divisions. Now the Patriots make an annual thing out of winning their division, and although the Bruins’ lead may only by a point, they were after all, Stanley Cup finalist, so that should not be a shock. But the sub .500 Celtics with a 1.5 game lead in the Atlantic Division? Well, I didn’t see that coming. So now I think I’ll take a few moments to enjoy it, while I try to figure out who’s actually on the team.
I’ve been slow to warm up to the 2013-14 edition of the Green team, especially with the departure of Garnett, Pierce, and Ray Allen before that, and of course, Doc Rivers. It’s not that I was angry that they were moved. As a matter of fact, if anything, I thought they waited too long to break up the “Big Three”; it’s just difficult to adjust to a new cast of characters. It didn’t help me that I’m not that much of a follower of college basketball, so I really was unsure as to whether or not the selection of Brad Stevens was a smart long term move, or just someone to watch over their demise. One way or another, it apparently is working out reasonably well, and despite my only recognizing about four names on the roster, Stevens is helping the C’s find their identity as a running team that’s not afraid to play some defense.
If I turn on the radio to listen to the Celtics, I usually have to hope that Jeff Green (16.7ppg), or Avery Bradley (13.5ppg), or Brandon Bass (13.4ppg), and/or maybe Jared Sullinger (13.4pg), is mentioned for me to know how to react to the action. I had just gotten used to Kelly Olynyk when he got hurt, and will likely never get used to Kris Humphries as a member of the Celtics, but I suppose that’s neither here nor there. I’m sure that the return of Rajon Rondo to action will help the C’s, but who knows when that’s going to happen? Finally, I just want to say that I’m not one of those who believes that Boston should have “tanked” the season in the hope of getting a favorable spot in the draft lottery next Spring. I just don’t think you can count on that working. It’s seems to me that there are plenty of teams who consistently finish poorly without ever improving their lot through their draft selections. Let just hope that Rondo comes back strong, they find at least one selection of value in the draft and maybe sign some more rebounding help. If they do that, then I believe that next year they may actually once again, be legitimate contenders.
If I may correct myself, the B’s actually have a three point divisional lead over Montreal as we speak, the one point lead is over Pittsburgh for conference supremacy; not bad considering their physical state. The injury bug has hit them pretty hard, as they are currently without defensemen Dougie Hamilton, Johnny Boychuk, and Adam McQuaid, as well as centers Chris Kelly and Loui Erickson, along with winger Daniel Paille. On top of that Zdeno Chara, Gregory Campbell, and Chad Johnson, all had the flu, and it is expected that they will lose Shawn Thornton for a while for league disciplinary reasons. Fortunately for them, goaltender Tuukka Rask is sporting a very healthy 1.87 goals against average, a .935 save percentage and 16 wins (2 shutouts), so he’s able to keep them in just about every game they’ve played. He’s actually stolen one or two for them, such as with his 43 save performance in New York against the Rangers last month. The Bruins have been buoyed by the play of youngsters Ryan Smith 22, (7G, 14A) and defenseman Torey Krug 22, (8G, 10A). The addition of veteran right winger Jarome Iginla 36, (6G, 11A) proved that he should have joined them last year instead of Pittsburgh, as he has easily fit in with the Bruins tough-in-the-corners approach. There is obviously a long way to go, but if they could all get healthy by the end of the season, perhaps there will be another duck boat parade in Boston soon. Stay tuned…
A Last Word on a First Impression
I told you last time I thought there was something strange about the quickness of Jacoby Ellsbury signing with the Yankees, and now I think I know what it is. According to Jerry Thornton of Barstool Sports, and as told to Felger and Mazz on 98.5 the Sports Hub, the signing was orchestrated by super agent Scott Boras to out maneuver Jay-Z’s group by having Ellsbury sign for a big contract in New York, thus making it impossible for them to also sign Cano. Although I’m sure the Yanks would have liked to have him, this gave them an out, saving face with their fans, but still helping the team. It’s not the pitching they badly need, but it does give them the surplus of outfielders that may help them trade for some. Well, I thought it was interesting…
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