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Your Guess…

…is as good as mine.

After a disappointing season, to put it mildly, the Boston Celtics get ready to play the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs later today.

So what are they going to bring to the table?

No idea…just as we have been saying ALL SEASON LONG.

We know they won’t be bringing Marcus Smart to the table.  Smart tore his oblique toward the end of the regular season, so it looks like there is no chance he will be playing in this series.

Is that a good thing?

On one hand, yes, because it shortens the rotation even more.  Coach Brad Stevens won’t feel like he has to give minutes to like 12 guys.  And reduce playing time for a guy like Jaylen Brown, who performed well in last years’ playoffs.

That should leave them with 8 players to give minutes to, though Brad will likely continue to give Semi Ojeleye 5-10 minutes a game for no apparent reason.  I’d love Daniel Theis to get some minutes…something about that guy I love.  But he would seem be the 9th man because they seem to love Aaron Baynes and he will be playing.  Of course, Baynes missed 31 games this year, so let’s not rule out him getting hurt.  But it’s also “just” Danny Theis, a clear role player off the bench, so he’s not going to upset any rotation even if he gets in there for a few.

One of those guys getting more minutes would be Gordon Hayward.  Who seemed to start finding more of his game in the (very) late season, coincidentally when he got…more minutes.

Was that a mirage?  Or was he finally showing real glimpses of the player he once was?  Sample size may be too small to measure.  BUT, it’s worth finding out more on.

Then again though, losing Smart may not be a great thing.  He’s one of the few guys that showed fire every day during the regular season.  Sure, he still can’t shoot and takes waaaaaaaay too many shots.  BUT, there is something about him that makes me feel like we need him on the floor.

Intangibles…blah, blah, blah…

But do “intangibles” actually mean anything to this particular team?  Maybe not.  So whatever…

Anyway, enough about Smart.  Let’s talk about the series.

The Pacers haven’t had Victor Oladipo for about the last half of the year.  And that sure as hell is a good thing…for the Celtics.

The Celts were 3-1 against the Pacers this season…and really should have been 4-0.  Oladipo ruined that loss with a three pointer with a few seconds left.  Two of the Celtic wins were blowouts.

Now, per usual, I am not going to tell you that I watched a whole ton of Indiana Pacers basketball this season.  But I will tell you that, despite finishing a mere game behind the Celtics in the standings, I am not all that impressed with their roster…the names or the numbers…or the stats.

But what do I know?

Just by knowing (“thinking” what I know?) about what the Celtics have, I feel like the Cs should cruise through this series.  But they won’t.  Cuz they haven’t cruised through ANYTHING this year.

And that’s why this series is so hard to pick.

The Boston Celtics would not surprise me if they all of a sudden flipped a switch, found the proper rotations, started playing together…and all that…and then went on to a championship.  They really wouldn’t.

On the flip side, it would not shock the hell out of me if they lost in the first round.

What do I want?  Well, a championship of course.  BUT, part of me is thinking “this team was pretty unlikeable this season, led by Kyrie Irving.  Why do I want to start rooting for them now?”

Sad, but true.

Also, part of me wouldn’t mind them losing early so I don’t have to invest any time in them.

On top of all THAT, part of me wants them to lose early so that Kyrie can take his act out of town.  I mean, he may anyway.  But an early round loss may make it easier.  Kyrie is a great, great, great player.  But the thought of listening to him for the five or whatever years his extension will be for kind of makes my stomach churn a little.  Ok, a lot.

And I don’t believe that Anthony Davis is coming here to pair with Kyrie and Gordo and whoever else to lead the Celts to the Promised Land.

Well, AD may come here…for a year anyway.  Wouldn’t surprise me if Danny Ainge made the trade with the New Orleans Pelicans this summer regardless of what Davis (and his Dad) say publicly (or privately).  Ainge will most assuredly have the stones to think he can talk AD into staying here after next year.  And he may be able to pull it off.

But I still think Davis goes to the Lakers in the summer of 2020.

I guess who knows though.  The players in this league change their mind when the wind blows.  Hell, maybe Irving does re-sign and Kevin Durant comes over as well.

WHAT??!!

Well, we’ve all heard the rumors now that KD “doesn’t feel appreciated in Golden State” and “isn’t getting the credit he deserves” and is going somewhere else after the year.  New York with Kyrie or wherever.

Hey Kev, what did you think would happen when you joined the Warriors?  Those guys were already winners without you.  So they didn’t even NEED you.  The table was already set.  You think winning two more with them would make you that much more important?  Sorry, no…

So enough about the offseason.  We will cross that bridge when we get there.

I don’t really have any other insight into the series though.  You came here to hear about X’s and O’s?  And specific Pacer players?  Hmmmmmm, ok…in any event, how could anyone pretend that they have any insight, what with the completely inconsistent way the Celtics played the entire year?

So it’s prediction time.  And again, it could be anything.

But I will say…Celtics in six.  Because it SHOULD go no longer than that…

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Trouble “Bruin”?

Haha…I crack myself up with these stupid titles every time…

Anyway, the Boston Bruins open their pursuit of Lord Stanley’s Cup this evening.  So what are their chances?

You got me?

Why?

One word:  TUUUUUUUUUUUKKSSSS!!!

You got it.  You know I hate the guy.  But you also know what?  It’s a fact.

Once again, Tuukka Rask crapped his pants down the stretch.  Ok, we will blame the defense some as well.  Too much Steven Kampfer and Connor Clifton are well…too much Steven Kampfer and Connor Clifton.

But Tuuks’ performance was weak nonetheless.  Seemed par for the course compared to late season performances in past years.

And this year he played barely half the schedule.

So what can we expect from Rask in the playoffs?  I know what I expect.  But that may be kind of harsh.

Looking back at his playoff record, he is actually better than I remember.  Well, his actual record isn’t that impressive (35-30).  But his goals against average of 2.25 and save percentage of .924 are solid.

Listen.  My main problem with Rask is that he STEALS relatively few games for the home team.  A 7 million dollar a year goalie needs to steal games and be great.  Not just to make the saves he is supposed to and just be there.  And he doesn’t always make the saves he is supposed to.  How many softies has he given up over the years?  How many times have you heard head coach Bruce Cassidy say postgame “we needed a save there” or “we could have used a save there”?

A lot.

Tim Thomas is a legend in this town because of all the games he stole…and winning the Stanley Cup of course too.  But he stood on his head so many times every year, especially during that Cup run.  You just can’t say that about Rask.

Prove me wrong Tuuks.  For once.  Please.  Though ESPN picked Rask as the worst starting goalie in the playoffs.  So if you can prove them wrong as well Tuuks, it would be much appreciated by many.

So where do I stand on the first round playoff matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs, all things considered?  Welp, I am a homer, so that’s not going to hurt the local squad.

The Bruins were 3-1 against the Leafs this year.  But the regular season means diddly squat now.  Ask the Tampa Bay Lightning.  They had the best regular season record…by far.  Then lost Game 1 last night.  Yeah, I know, it’s a long series and anything can happen.  And they will probably end up winning it.  But let’s remember that the Presidents’ Trophy winner doesn’t always fare well in the hunt for the Cup.  We will deal with that more in the second round if both the Bruins and Lightning advance to square off there.

We also don’t love how some “experts” are picking the Bs to win it all.  I know, they shared the second best record in the league this season.  But still…doesn’t feel right for whatever reason.

The defense worries me for one.  It looks like Kevan Miller is out (again).  And not that John Moore is anything special, he does play a little defense.  But he apparently is still out.  And that means a spot for Clifton or Kampfer…though from all indications it will be Clifton.  We’ve already covered him.

Throw in Torey Krug, who simply cannot play any defense.  Sorry.  And, with all due respect, a 41-year-old Zdeno Chara looking like he is skating in quicksand half the time.  And what have you got?

Huge question mark, that’s what.

As we have said in similar situations in the past, we are not going to tell you we watched a ton of Maple Leaf hockey this season.  But they have plenty of offensive skill, I can tell you that much.

The Bruin offense?  Not too worried about them.  Mostly healthy up front, other than Sean Kuraly.  But since he’s a bottom six guy we won’t fret too much about his absence.

I do love the noise I’m hearing about David Backes possibly being the odd man out tonight.  Give Backes credit for the way he has handled his role, or really, lack of role, this year.  But now is not the time to appease aging veterans.  If it was, Lee Stempniak would be in the lineup.

Good idea to keep the Patrice Bergeron/Brad Marchand/David Pastrnak line together.  And as a 4th group, Noel Acciari/Joakim Nordstrom/Chris Wagner is good enough.

But I love that they are giving Karson Kuhlman that shot on the David Krejci/Jake DeBrusk line.  Or they appear to be anyway.  5 points in 11 games is certainly not Hall of Fame material.  And we saw what happened last year when Ryan Donato came in late season, flashed, then completely disappeared in the playoffs.

But I want to see what the kid can bring.  If it doesn’t work, move on to someone else.

I am also intrigued by the Marcus Johannson/Charlie Coyle/Danton Heinen line.  Not sure how much they have exactly played together.  But I know Johannson and Coyle played together a bit when Marcus came back from his injury.  Seemed to be ok.  Let’s keep looking at that combo too.

I feel like the offense will be ok.  In fact, it may well be a series that features a handful of 6-5 games.

Why?

The way I feel about Rask HAS to be the same way Leaf fans feel about their netminder, Frederik Andersen.  I guess he’s ok, but ok isn’t what anyone wants in the playoffs.

Andersen’s goals against average was 2.77 this season.  Seems a little high in today’s NHL.  Not to mention that his career performance in the playoffs isn’t anything to write home about.  Including a ghastly 3.76 GAA in last years’ playoffs.

Ssssssoooo… that gives me a little comfort.

Prediction?  I don’t know, Boston in seven?  Sounds about right.  Though it could be Toronto in five for all we know.

That’s the beauty of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  Exciting for one, but sometimes completely unpredictable for another.

And as we all know a hot goalie can take a team pretty far.  Maybe that can be Tuuks for once?  Though I’m not sure that is something we should be counting on…

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