…into a bit of a national perspective on the “winter” sports scene now, relating it to the local teams. You know, since the Celtics were eliminated what seems like a month ago…wait, it WAS almost a month ago…and the Bruins were atrocious and missed the playoffs altogether.
Both the NBA and NHL playoffs have been on quite often at this address, even with the local teams missing. More often than in recent years, for sure. As they go deeper towards the Finals, one thing has become increasingly clear to me:
The Celtics and the Bruins are far, far, FAR away from their next championship. In their current states of course. Things obviously can change with the right move, or series of moves. I have confidence in the C’s making moves to help get there. The B’s? Not so much.
But for right this second? There really can be no debate here. The semifinals alone in both sports clearly show us this.
Sure, there has been a few blowouts in both series in the NBA semis. But that really matters not.
Cleveland is clearly the team to beat in the East, as much as it pains me to say. I can’t stand that clown, LeFraud James. For numerous reasons (See: Game 3 flop, for some more ammo). Listen, I hate anyone who flops in any sport (See also: Smart, Marcus). That’s one of the big reasons I despise soccer as a whole. But James doesn’t NEED to do that sort of crap. Let’s move on before I become any more fired up…
Toronto may have been the Cavaliers’ only true competition for the entire year, yet they got smoked at Cleveland in Games 1 and 2. Sure, the Raptors have been without Jonas Valanciunas (I totally just copied and pasted that name here!) for the whole series thus far. But although JV may be good for say, 12 points and 10 boards or so…he ain’t Shaq in his prime. Demar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are very good players. They have some decent players that surround them. But you’d have to say the Cavs triumvirate of James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love tops the above three. And then when J.R. Smith is dropping bombs left and right from downtown, along with the rest of their useful players, the Cavs really should obviously be the heavy favorite.
So, Cleveland should take care of Toronto soon enough and head to the finals. That’s going out on a limb, I know. The larger point here is that the Celtics not only aren’t ready to compete with the Cavs, but I’m not sure they would compete with the Raptors. 1-3 against Toronto in the regular season, but that in that one win, Lowry did not play.
More importantly, I am watching these games out West and thanking the Good Lord the C’s aren’t getting pummeled by any of those teams. Specifically, Golden State and Oklahoma City, the West finalists. Each team has a blowout win on their home floor this series. But both are clearly head and shoulders above the Celtics. I know, another news flash. But games against them would truly be scary…again, in the C’s current state. So much talent and athleticism. Cold blooded shooters. Even against each other, as elite teams, 10 point leads all of a sudden become 25. Impressive. Just watching these games in both conferences makes you realize these teams are on a different level than the C’s. Of course, there are now only four teams left. They are supposed to be the best. But still…
As stated above and in previous posts, I do believe Danny Ainge and the Celtics will attempt to make some moves and continue to close the gap between them and the title contenders. I have written previously that there is no way Kevin Durant will come to Boston. I still pretty much feel that way. BUT…what if OKC wins the championship? Will Durant be more inclined to look elsewhere? I really have no idea. But seems like the C’s best bet is to root for OKC over the next few weeks and maybe they become pleasantly surprised.
Moving onto the Stanley Cup playoffs…I do feel that the Bruins’ are obviously a ways away from another title. Missing the playoffs two years in a row helped me think up this original thought. But I watch these semifinal games…actually, the playoffs as a whole for the most part…and see just a ton of speed and skill all over the ice. Crisp passing. Guys picking corners of the net. Big saves. Etc. Almost none of what you see during Bruins games. Picking corners? Haha…if I had a nickel for every B’s shot fired directly into the chest of a goalie…
Claude’s system perhaps? Yeah, sure. Always a possibility. Huge possibility. But I don’t think it explains it all. The B’s have too many 3rd and 4th line types, guys that fit Claude’s system, guys that have helped him win in the past. But the team does have SOME highly skilled players, after all. And they are still NHL hockey players. They don’t just forget how to shoot at an open corner of the net because Claude asks them to put more time in down at their own end.
The team just doesn’t have enough of the ELITE offensive players, you know, guys like Phil Kessel and Tyler Seguin (& soon enough, David Pastrnak perhaps?)…guys that could still work in Claude’s system, but perhaps operate with a little more freedom on the offensive end. And those are some of the players we see playing now.
That all being said, I also find myself being frustrated watching the Eastern Conference, in particular. Washington finished the regular season with 16 points more than anyone else in the East. President’s Trophy for best record in the league…by 11 points. Sure, they have a history of choking in the playoffs. But wasn’t this year supposed to be different? In the East, it was them and everyone else. Then they get booted in the second round and we are watching Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay in the conference finals.
Pittsburgh changed their coach in the middle of the season…to Mike Sullivan. Mike Sullivan?? Remember that stiff here?! Tampa had FOUR more points than the B’s in the regular season. Both teams have switched goalies this series, albeit Tampa due to injury. But Tampa’s backup has played well and is 3-2. Tampa has played without superstar Steven Stamkos since Day One of the postseason. And so on…
What if the B’s just get IN the playoffs? We’ve seen all of this before. Quite simply, ANYTHING can happen. Top seeds lose. Goalies get hot. Players score more. Unheralded guys step up and make a difference. And all of that.
Makes you wonder still why Claude kept his job.
Now, anything could happen, but I still wouldn’t give them much of a chance against the West. Though San Jose only had five more points than the B’s…and a losing home record. And a goalie, Martin Jones, that they actually had as property for a short time (coming from LA as part of the Milan Lucic trade, going to SJ for a first rounder and college kid). And St. Louis has switched goalies this series as well. Among other things. These two teams would still skate circles around the B’s. Chicago, Dallas, Anaheim and LA would likely have as well.
With the news that Donnie Hockey is discussing things with Loui Eriksson’s agent…well, that is kind of upsetting me. Didn’t want Claude to stay. Don’t want Loui here and wanted to get some value for him back at the trade deadline. I just have zero faith in Bruins management right now. We’ll see what happens.
One more thought: With the goalie carousel in these playoffs and teams still doing it with only 4 teams left standing…makes you wonder why you pay 7 mil a year for yours, doesn’t it?
Posted on May 23, 2016, in Uncategorized and tagged Boston Bruins, Boston Celtics, Claude Julien, Cleveland Cavaliers, Danny Ainge, DeMar DeRozan, Don Sweeney, Golden State Warriors, Kevin Durant, Kyle Lowry, LeBron James, Mike Sullivan, NBA playoffs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Stanley Cup playoffs, Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Raptors. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.