Boston fans blessed despite end of season for Bruins, Celtics

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Posted May 19, 2009, at 10:12 p.m.

Greater Boston is the only locale that can claim six professional sports championships in this decade.

The Patriots won three Super Bowls, the Red Sox claimed two World Series and the Celtics annexed the NBA championship a year ago.

So, if you are a Boston sports fan, consider yourself blessed.

And stop crying in your beer after an extremely disappointing week in which the Bruins and Celtics both lost Game 7s at home, and the Red Sox went 2-4 on a road trip to Anaheim and Seattle with slugger David Ortiz, mired in a massive slump, being benched for the three games in Seattle.

But the disappointment in the losses absorbed by the Celtics and the Bruins should be tempered by the fact they lost to better teams.

The Celtics simply couldn’t overcome the loss of injured star center Kevin Garnett and frontcourt mate Leon Powe against a healthy Orlando team with a host of different weapons.

Dwight Howard was a tremendous presence in the paint for Orlando and everybody else could nail 3-pointers. He created separation for his 3-point shooters.

Howard’s presence would have been nullified by Garnett and Powe and that would have enabled the rest of the Celtics to do a better job guarding the 3-point shooters.

Their production in the paint also would have taken the pressure off Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, who were playing hurt.

Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis wouldn’t have gotten into foul trouble and, in fact, Howard might have found himself in foul trouble while trying to guard Garnett and Powe.

The Celtics showed a tremendous amount of heart and grit to eke out that enthralling seven-game series win over Chicago and to take the Magic to seven games.

You can actually feel good about the Celtics.

Had they beaten the Magic, they wouldn’t have been any match for LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who will be crowned NBA champs next month.

The Bruins-Hurricanes series was similar to a basketball matchup between a team that prefers a half-court game (Boston) and another that prefers a run-and-gun, fast-break style (Carolina).

The Hurricanes did a better job capitalizing on their speed advantage than the Bruins did maximizing their strength advantage to forecheck and cycle the puck in the Carolina end.

The Bruins rarely had any odd-man rushes (3-on-2s, 2-on-1s, breakaways) because the Hurricanes were so quick to transition from offense to defense.

Carolina also used its speed to protect its net front and clear loose pucks and to force the Bruins to make hasty decisions on the power play.

Marco Sturm, who missed most of the year for the Bruins, would have made a huge difference in this series because he’s lightning quick. That would have helped to neutralize Carolina’s speed. He is also very strong on the puck thanks to his low center of gravity.

Sturm would have greatly aided the power play.

Not to use excuses but the Bruins were also without point-producing defensemen Andrew Ference (groin) and Matt Hunwick (ruptured spleen) in addition to Sturm and had four key forwards playing hurt: leading goal scorer Phil Kessel (torn rotator cuff and labrum in his shoulder), Chuck Kobasew (broken ribs), David Krejci (torn labrum in his hip) and Mark Recchi (rib injury, kidney stone removal the night before Game 7).

Remember, two seasons ago, neither team even made the playoffs.

http://bangordailynews.com/2009/05/19/sports/boston-fans-blessed-despite-end-of-season-for-bruins-celtics/ printed on April 24, 2014