Thursday, April 14, 2011

Busy Times in Boston Sports

There is a lot to look forward to coming up in the next couple of months (hopefully) in Boston sports.  Both the Bruins and the Celtics are hosting their first playoff game this week, and both should advance past the first round fairly easily.  The Red Sox have started off their season on a slow note, but they should improve greatly, and seeing them at full tilt should be exciting for all fans.  The Patriots are getting ready for a draft, and they have six picks in the first three rounds.  As a Boston sports fan, I have been spoiled over the past few years, and hopefully this will be another year with multiple championship pushes to keep me spoiled.

The Celtics have stumbled into the playoffs for the second year in a row, and they fell from first in the East to third.  There is much mroe competition in the Eastern Conference than there was last year, and if they make it to the championship, they will likely have to go through the Knicks, Heat, and the Bulls.  If they play like they have over the past couple of months, they won't make it out of the first round, but Doc Rivers seems to get his team to play well in the playoffs.  They should have a healthy Shaq, and their defense seems to be much stronger in big playoff games.  There is more time off between games in the playoffs, so the Celtics age should make less of a difference than in the regular season.  It will be a hard run, but they should give fans a lot of excitement deep into the playoffs.

The Bruins have gone into the playoffs on a hot streak.  They have the best goalie in the league this year with a strong backup goalie.  Their defense is strong, and their offense is above average as well.  They should make it far into the playoffs, but there is one thing that worries me.  Last year they were up three games to none against Philly and they still managed to lose the series.  They were even up three goals to none in game seven and they blew the lead and the series.  This team has the potential to do this again, but hopefully they will take their huge upset and use it as motivation to charge through the playoffs and into the Stanley Cup Championship.

The Red Sox have been hard to watch this season so far, but there isn't a chance that this bad streak will continue.  The team is too talented to keep losing like this, and there are too many leaders on the team to let them keep losing.  All it will take for the offense to pick up is one player to have a break out game, and the hitting will be contagious.  The pitching might be more difficult to fix.  Lackey has struggled in Boston, and Beckett isn't the pitcher he used to be.  Lester and Buchholz have been uncharacteristically bad, but I don't see that continuing.  The big problem with their pitching staff is Dice-K.  With the exception of his first season, he has been a .500 pitcher or worse on a team that is much better than .500.  They can't option him to AAA, and with all of the money he's making nobody will want to pick him up in a trade.  The only options the Sox have are to drop him or keep him on the team and let him lose game after game.

The Patriots have a multitude of picks to make in the draft, and the Pats have been the best team in the league at drafting talent.  Their defense was better than the numbers showed, but there are still some gaps that they need to fill with the draft.  The offense lacks an explosive game changer, and that is what I expect to see come in the draft.  They are great at taking no-name players and turning them into stars, but Brady has shown that he is even more unstoppable if given a star receiver like he had in 2007 in Randy Moss.  I believe that there will be an NFL season coming up this year, and the Patriots might be able to improve on their 14-2 record if they do well in the draft.

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