Hope springs eternal for the Boston sports fan
Just a few weeks ago it appeared that all was lost for this spring’s playoff teams. The B’s couldn’t score and were headed for a matchup with the Washington Capitals that they would surely lose, and the C’s were an old bunch of fading stars and a few promising youngsters with no hope at beating Cleveland in the second round. Well, ever since the Bruins managed to not lose the draft lottery, likely landing themselves a future franchise cornerstone forward, things have been looking up.
The Bruins, fresh off defeating The Ryan Miller and his fellow Buffalo Sabres in six games, look ready to defeat the injury-riddled Philadelphia Flyers. Boston, the sixth seed, will have home ice. I respect the gritty nature of the Flyers (which sometimes - OK, more like oftentimes - goes over the edge to become dirty), and think it will take a victory at the TD Garden to close out the series. The Bruins have a much better team at the moment, mostly because Tuukka Rask’s performance is much more credible than Brian Boucher’s, but I don’t expect Boston to have too much luck on Philly’s home ice. Philadelphians are harder than New Yorkers, almost as tough as Bostonians, and they’ll practically will their team to victory if there’s a Game 6 in Philly. So, I’m picking Boston in 7, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see it over before then.
Next up, we’ve got LeBron on the radar. Cleveland and Boston both swatted pesky first-round matchups aside in five games, and not much should be taken from those series. Neither team was challenged, and the team each played is very different from its next opponent. Cleveland remains the better team, and there’s no denying it. I would expect the opposite of the Bruins/Flyers series. Cleveland, the home team in this one, will probably win in Game 7, but could pull it out as early as Game 5 (unlikely) and possibly in Game 6 (50/50 chance).
Except for one issue: LeBron’s elbow.
Ball Don’t Lie has an injury update (no, that’s not Rasheed Wallace’s blog, that one wouldn’t have anything on it because ’Sheed would be too lazy to type - by the way, I was lucky enough to attend Game 5 on Tuesday, and I have to say great job by Doc going with Big Baby down the stretch over Mr. Lazy or a struggling Kendrick Perkins). Basically, LeBron says he’ll be fine, but of course he’s going to say that. There’s really no telling what will happen with this murky elbow irritation. Far be it from me to wish injury on another, especially on a once-in-a-lifetime freak athlete about whom we’ll tell our grandkids if 2012 doesn’t end the world (joke ... kind of), but if LeBron is even down to 80 percent or so, the line on this series changes dramatically. We’ll probably know quickly too. If LeBron’s hurting, the Celtics will punish him when he comes into the lane, fouling hard and strategically. It’s the pros, that’s just the truth. If the best player on the planet can’t get to the hole and make his free throws, Boston may just have lucked into the perfect storm for taking down the King.
Cleveland could fall apart quickly if LeBron can’t carry them. Strangely, it could be a similar situation to last season, when KG was hurt and Boston essentially decided it had nothing left for Cleveland in the conference finals and just wanted to go home, allowing Orlando to advance and eventually upset the Cavs en route to getting blown out by the Lakers. Could Boston share the same fate this year?
If there’s one team that can defend Dwight Howard, it’s Boston with Kendrick Perkins. If an injured King can’t stop Boston from imposing its will, how will a guy who gets fined for blogging do it?