Three midweek thoughts for your perusal:
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I was surprised to hear some Celtics fans call the radio yesterday and say they don't really need to see the team do anything in the postseason to consider this season a success. They said the Celts have already established what they needed to establish: That the young players improved, the coach continued to distinguish himself, and the program emerged and will therefore be a destination for star veterans this offseason and beyond. The postseason is simply gravy.
Sorry. Unless the Celts have a good postseason, which I define as at least winning a round and going deep into their second-round series, then I think much of what they accomplished in the regular season will go for naught. If the C's can't validate when it matters most, then people will have every right to question just how significant their play from November through April was. It will be diminished as being the result of hustle, not talent. Or luck. Or simply the case of a team that cared more than its opponents on enough nights to win more games than it should have.
For the record, I believe the C's will be a formidable postseason team. I like them tonight against Miami. I like them with home court in the first round. I don't love them against Cleveland in the second round, but they have a chance to make that one interesting. So, overall, I'm optimistic about their chances.
But this isn't Happyland. There are consequences if you lose.
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Amazing that LaGarrette Blount ran for 703 yards last year and I can't remember a single one of them. Perhaps that's because the vast majority of his damage came in games that were non-competitive (129 yards at home versus Washington; three touchdown at home versus Jacksonville; 93 yards, touchdown at Indianapolis). Now Blount has been brought back to New England for another year of plodding, non-factor running.
It feels like the Pats were poised for something bigger, given their need at the position and an interesting free agent class (Matt Forte, Chris Ivory, Lamar Miller, Alfred Morris, etc.). But you know how I feel about this issue. Running back is the most overrated position in sports. You can get what you need the last day of the draft. Or in Canada. Or someone else's practice squad. It shouldn't be hard to do better than Blount, and the Pats most certainly will.
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Don't tell me Cam Neely and Don Sweeney are actually still trying take up their minds on what do to with Claude Julien. That's preposterous. Neely has been working with -- and knocking heads with -- Julien for over six years. Sweeney has been in the organization alongside Julien since the coach arrived in 2007. Neely and Sweeney know all of Julien's strengths and weaknesses, everything he brings to the table. The scoreboard (the Bruins have had the worst record in hockey down the stretch in each of the last two years) tells the story. There is nothing left to decide.
I don't know why they're taking a few extra days, but there must be reason. Maybe they're trying to worm something out of Ottawa for Julien's services. Maybe their hammering something out with the contract. I don't know. The only thing I know is that Julien's not coming back. Or at least I think I know that.
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