Here's why Boston athletes will benefit from time off amid coronavirus outbreak

Here's why Boston athletes will benefit from time off amid coronavirus outbreak

The COVID-19 outbreak is extremely serious with the NBA, NHL, MLS, and MLB suspending their seasons for player, staff and fan safety.

But, the professional athletes in Boston will highly benefit from the time off -- especially with the Stanley Cup Playoffs and NBA postseason right around the corner. 

There's no hard timetable for any of the leagues listed above to resume play, but with that in question, let's take a look at each team's current situation and how they vary. 

Boston Celtics

The NBA was the first professional league to suspend its season following the news that Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert (and later Donovan Mitchell) tested positive for the coronavirus. The Celtics played the Jazz twice in the span of 10 days, and are now self-quarantining on the NBA's recommendation. 

Here's where the C's stand during the NBA's postponement of the season:

  • 43-21 record.
  • 5-5 in their last 10 games.
  • Third place in the Eastern Conference. 

The Celtics were struggling over the course of the past couple weeks. They lost four of their last six games, with their two wins coming against the fifth-place Indiana Pacers and last place Cleveland Cavaliers. 

Their struggles were due in part to their inability to close out games, but they also dealt with injuries to key players like Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker. So, Boston obviously could use the rest in order to nurse some of their players back to health. 

Brown missed four straight games thanks to a hamstring strain, while Walker has been limited at times due to his ongoing knee issues. 

With this extended period of rest, the C's should hopefully be fully healthy and geared up for the final stretch, as well as the playoffs, when the NBA season resumes.

However, if the NBA does extend the season, this could allow the injured Kevin Durant to return for the Brooklyn Nets this season. With the Nets being a possible playoff matchup for the C's, it wouldn't exactly be ideal for Boston if he was to return. 

Boston Bruins

The NHL was one of the last professional leagues to suspend play following the coronavirus outbreak.

While none of the league's players have been confirmed to have COVID-19, it still was the right decision by Gary Bettman and NHL officials to postpone the remainder of the season. 

Here's where the B's stand during the NHL's postponement of the season:

  • 44-14-12 record (100 points).
  • 7-3-0 in their last 10 games. 
  • First place in the Atlantic Division, Eastern Conference, and NHL.

The B's are in the midst of one of their best regular seasons in franchise history. 

Tuukka Rask leads all goaltenders with a 2.12 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage, while David Pastrnak is tied with Alex Ovechkin for the lead-league in goals with 48. Torey Krug also ranks eighth among defensemen with 49 points and sixth with 40 assists. 

Krug, like many of his B's teammates, is having a stellar season, but he missed Boston's last game versus the Philadelphia Flyers due to an upper-body injury. Brandon Carlo has also missed time with an upper-body injury after being on the receiving end of an elbow to the head from Florida Panthers forward Evgenii Dadonov. 

So, although the B's are rolling, they'll 100 percent benefit from the time off. Players will have the time to heal properly, and for a team that made it to the Stanley Cup Final last season, the time off is always going to appreciated -- no matter the unfortunate circumstances. 

That said, this will give Steven Stamkos time to return to action if the NHL regular season resumes in the coming months -- making for a more difficult matchup for the B's in a potential meeting with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the playoffs. 

Boston Red Sox

The MLB announced the remainder of Spring Training games will be canceled, and the start of the regular season has been delayed at least two weeks. 

Since they may not be too good this year, some fans aren't too upset by the delay in the Red Sox's season. After dealing Mookie Betts and David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and also losing Brock Holt to the Milwaukee Brewers, not many are confident in the 2020 Red Sox. 

Here's how the Sox ended Spring Training: 

  • 9-10 Spring Training record with two ties. 
  • Notable losses to the New York Yankees and Houston Astros. 

Of course, Spring Training is only to get the players up to speed for the regular season, but the Sox didn't look too good regardless -- and their farm system ranks 25th in the league, which isn't too hot. 

In the Betts trade, the Red Sox received Alex Verdugo, who is dealing with a back injury and isn't expected to be ready in time for the start of the season with no clear timetable on a return. However, maybe with some extended rest and rehab time, Verdugo could possibly be ready for the season. 

On the pitching side of things, Chris Sale has a flexor strain after throwing a bullpen session at the beginning of the month. Although he doesn't need surgery, he still is unable to workout and, according to the Red Sox, he'll be reevaluated in the coming weeks. 

Like Verdugo, Sale could highly benefit from the extended period of time off. 

New England Revolution

Like the other professional leagues, the MLS also decided to suspend its season after just two weeks of action.

With the Revolution set to reach new heights under head coach Bruce Arena this season, it was rather disappointing to hear their season has been postponed. 

Here's where the Revs stand during the MLS postponement:

  • 0-1-1 record (one point)
  • Eighth place in Eastern Conference. 

The Revs should have won their second game of the season against Chicago Fire FC, but failed to capitalize on plenty of scoring opportunities. With Carles Gil still dealing with a foot injury, the suspension of the MLS season works in New England's favor. 

Gil has missed both of the Revolution's games this season and wasn't sure he'd be ready for Week 3 against the Portland Timbers on Sunday. With no timetable for the return of the season, Gil should have plenty of time to rest up and recover ahead of their next match. 

With Adam Buksa, Teal Bunbury and Gustavo Bou currently carrying the load on the attack, Gil should be a nice addition once he's able to return. 

Celtics 'thrilled' for new Duke women's head coach Kara Lawson

Celtics 'thrilled' for new Duke women's head coach Kara Lawson

The Boston Celtics are sad to see Kara Lawson go, but ecstatic to see her begin a new chapter as head coach of the Duke University women's basketball program.

Lawson, who joined the C's prior to this season and became the first female assistant coach in franchise history, was officially welcomed aboard by Duke on Saturday. Former Duke star Jayson Tatum promptly congratulated her on the exciting opportunity, and several C's followed suit after their practice Sunday.

"We’re thrilled for her," said head coach Brad Stevens. "I don’t want to take away from her press conference tomorrow before she gets more of a chance to talk about it. I can’t say enough about what a terrific person, terrific coach, she’ll be a great fit at Duke with their incredible tradition.

"She’s really excited. We actually went on a walk – Kara, [Stevens’ wife] Tracy and I – a couple of months ago. And we were talking about what she’d be interested in the future, and being the head coach at Duke was one of the things that came up. So it’s really cool that she’s getting a chance to do that. She’ll be terrific."

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Even after just one season, Lawson has made a tremendous impact on Boston's players. Celtics big man Robert Williams opened up about how Lawson was a positive influence both on and off the court.

"Kara is always known for putting a smile on players' faces," Williams said. "She stays in your ear, even though she may not be your personal coach she always keeps asking how I'm doing and if there's anything I need to talk about, so I feel like Duke is going to get a great head coach. We're going to miss her. We don't want her to go, but it's on to bigger and better opportunities."

Smart echoed Williams' sentiments, calling Lawson a "friend" and someone he had a connection with since she was hired by the Celtics last summer.

"When Kara first got here, actually, and this is why our bond has been strong, she had the option to work with anybody. Brad gave her the option to choose who she wanted to work with, and the first person she chose with me," said Smart. "When she told Brad the reason why, she just liked the way I play my whole game. So that really hit home for me and it meant a lot. And like I said our relationship just built amongst that and she became more than just my shooting coach, she became a longtime friend and somebody I know I can talk to if I ever need advice.”

Lawson starred as a player at the University of Tennessee and went on to have 13 successful seasons in the WNBA. She served as an NBA and WNBA analyst for ESPN before joining the Celtics' coaching staff.

If what the C's had to say about Lawson is any indication, there's no doubt she will do great things for Duke as it aims to make its way back into the NCAA Tournament.

Kemba Walker held out of Celtics' first 'hard practice'

Kemba Walker held out of Celtics' first 'hard practice'

The Boston Celtics' plan to ease Kemba Walker back into the flow of things was on full display Sunday as Walker (knee) was held out for all of the team’s first "hard practice" since the team entered the Orlando Bubble as part of the NBA's return to play.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said this is part of the team’s plan of progression in working Walker back into being at his best physically for the playoffs, so that the stop-and-start state of his play won’t be the case by the time Boston gets to the postseason.

Walker has been among the most durable players in the NBA for years.

But this season, the 30-year-old has missed 16 games, most of which were due to left knee soreness. To put that in perspective, Walker missed just four games the four previous seasons combined.

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Without Walker, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens liked a lot of what he saw on Sunday in what was the team’s first hard practice. 

“Guys really got after it,” Stevens said.

He anticipates another hard practice on Monday with a day off on Tuesday. 

Walker is in the first year of a four-year, $141 million deal he signed after spending his first eight NBA seasons in Charlotte. 

This season, he is Boston’s No. 2 scorer with a 21.2 points per game average along with dishing out 4.9 assists while grabbing 4.1 rebounds.