DJ Bean's questions to ask the Celtics in their exit interviews

DJ Bean's questions to ask the Celtics in their exit interviews

At the end of a team's season, players have exit meetings with their GM, coach, whomever. I'm not sure how the Celtics do it, but after this season, I would do anything to sit in on those horrible, difficult meetings as the organization tries to figure out why perhaps the second-most talented roster in the NBA ended up being the biggest failure. 

Here's one question for each player I'd want asked: 

Kyrie Irving: What in the absolute -- let me start over. Why did ... do you ... can you look me in the face and tell me that you think you did a bad job and intend to learn from it? Wait. Show me your phone. How many of your teammates' numbers are in your phone? That's my question. Dammit. Wait. One more -- and this will be used as much against you as it will be against them, but we need to know -- which of your teammates do YOU think don't work here? 

Al Horford: Will you accept my apology for this season? Thank you and bless you. 

Semi Ojeleye: I want every other word that was said during the "wake the [bleep] up" thing. Now. 

Jaylen Brown: Do you think you can be at your best if you're on a team with Kyrie Irving? 

Gordon Hayward: Why did your aggression on the court disappear after stretches of seemingly being comfortable? Did you feel healthy or not?

Jayson Tatum: Do you have a note for missing the playoffs?  

Marcus Smart: Tell me who did it. It won't come back to you. 

Terry Rozier: You were a bench player for much of last season, too. How do you explain regressing when you should be entering the prime years of your career? 

Marcus Morris: Will you ever forget the beautiful Mook Morris era in Boston? I will not.

Robert Williams III: How does it feel to be like the third-best thing about this stupid season? Actually I legitimately can't think of anything better or more encouraging. God, what a sad year.

Aron Baynes: Did you try unleashing your healing scream on the actual team? 
 
Daniel Theis: Do you know that you statistically had a better first half of Game 5 than Kyrie? Made you look lmao.

Guerschon Yabusele: You ever see that one picture of your butt that's always on Twitter? You're the best. 

Brad Wanamaker: Are you going to sit here long enough for me to make an "I hardly know her!" joke?

RJ Hunter, Jonathan Gibson, PJ Dozier: Would you guys playing more have prevented this?

Blakely's winners & losers from Celtics season>>>>

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A Carolina Hurricanes cheat sheet for Bruins fans

A Carolina Hurricanes cheat sheet for Bruins fans

As it became clear that few, if any, titans of the of the NHL's regular season would advance past the first round, a vision appeared. It was of Boston in the springtime getting ready to hate opposing hockey teams and their fans, except it would deviate from the list of usual suspects. 

Columbus. Carolina. Amazing.

Unless you watch as much hockey as your cable package allows, you likely didn't see a ton of the Hurricanes in the regular season outside of their elaborate postgame celebrations. With the Celtics in the playoffs as well, you might not have been able to catch the Canes on Bruins off-nights, either. So here's a cheat sheet to catch you up to speed. 

THE QUICK NUMBERS

Carolina finished fourth in the Metropolitan Division to earn the first Wild Card and played through the Metropolitan bracket. 

Regular season goals/game: 2.96 (16th)

Regular season goals against/game: 2.70 (7th)

Regular season PP: 17.8 (20th)

Regular season PK: 81.6 (8th)

Postseason goals/game: 3.09 (2nd; Bruins 3rd at 3.08)

Postseason goals against/game: 2.27 (2nd; Bruins 1st at 2.15)

SO FAR THIS POSTSEASON: TWO UPSETS, A HURT GOALIE AND A SWEEP

The Hurricanes gutted out a seven-game series against the defending Cup champion Capitals and swept the Islanders despite losing starting goalie Petr Mrazek in Game 2. Mrazek is day-to-day, while Curtis McElhinney has allowed four goals over his two-plus games. 

ROOKIE COACH, YOUNG TEAM

Rod Brind'Amour, who won the Cup as Hurricanes captain in 2006 and is handsome, is in his first year as Hurricanes coach. He has them in the postseason for the first time since the Hurricanes bounced the Bruins in the second round in 2009. 

This has been called a "fun" team because of the amazing celebrations that have infuriated old people. It's also because there's a ton of youth on this team. Thirty-goal scorer Sebastian Aho, who centers Carolina's top line, is just 21. Teuvo Teravainen, who leads the team with six postseason goals, is 24.

Two of the team's top defenders, Jaccob Slavin and Dougie Hamilton (!) are 25. Andrei Svechnikov, chosen second overall last summer, is [extreme my own voice] only 19. 

According to rosterresource.com, the Hurricanes had the fifth-youngest roster this season with an average age of 26.6. For comparison, the Bruins ranked 26th with an average age of 28.8. That, of course, is thrown off by 61-year-old legend Zdeno Chara.  

IDENTITY: DEFENSE 

The Bruins got through one good defensive team and will now see another. Hamilton's gifts were evident in his three seasons in Boston, and he was added last offseason to a group that already included Justin Faulk (an All-Star in 2014-15), Slavin (one of the better young defensemen in the league) and UNH product Brett Pesce. Slavin leads all Eastern Conference players this postseason with 11 assists. He and Erik Karlsson (12) are the only players to hit double digits in helpers. 

Carolina's defensive pairings are more fluid than Boston's set-it-and-forget-it top four of Chara-McAvoy/Krug-Carlo. Slavin leads the top pair. He's usually with Hamilton, but Brind'Amour has moved Pesce up from the second pair of late. When that happens, Calvin de Haan moves up to the second pair to play with Justin Faulk, while Hamilton drops to the third pairing with Haydn Fleury. That means that at all times in five-on-five play, the Hurricanes can have one of Slavin, Hamilton and Faulk on the ice. That's (can't swear) freaking sick. 

IT AIN'T THAT DEEP 

The adage of needing your best players to be your best players in the postseason has held true for Carolina thus far. Their best forwards have been very good. Right now their first line is Aho between Warren Foegele and Justin Williams. Jordan Staal centers Teravainen and a rejuvenated Nino Niederreiter. Svechnikov, who scored 20 goals this season, got knocked out by Alex Ovechkin in a fight in Game 3 of the first round, but returned from his concussion for Games 3 and 4 of the second round. 

Carolina will get Micheal Ferland back this round, but Boston should still be deeper and better offensively. Carolina had three 50-point players this regular season in Aho, Teravainen and Williams, though Niederreiter had 30 points in 36 games after being acquired in a January trade for Victor Rask. Boston had five players with 50 points, including four with 70 and one with 100. 

Yet Staal has been something of a revelation for the Hurricanes this postseason. Staal, who is in Year 6 of a 10-year, $60 million contract and has not reached 50 points in any of his six seasons in Carolina, is tied for the team lead among forwards in points this postseason. 

Aho, Teravainen and Foegele all have nine points in 11 games. Williams has three goals and three assists. Niederreiter (four points in 11 games) has been kind of quiet.

THEY ARE A TEAM OF DESTINY 

Until now. 

Thank you to Sara Civian of The Athletic for answering my questions as I wrote this. Read her stuff and follow her at @SaraCivian.  

 

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Bruins aren't out of the woods after Rask's dominant performance

Bruins aren't out of the woods after Rask's dominant performance

The Bruins haven't breathed easy this entire series. A deceiving 4-1 win should be no exception. 

Thursday's Game 4, with several oddities added in, wasn't drastically different than the rest of the series. The Blue Jackets enjoyed lengthy stays in the Boston zone, with Tuukka Rask facing a heavier workload than Sergei Bobrovsky. That the Bruins received the best goaltending performance is of course a good thing, but it doesn't solve their series-long problems.

Offensively, the Bruins got one goal from a top six that has continues to struggle at even strength. The Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak line posted negative possession numbers, as did David Krejci. Sean Kuraly added his name to the list of if-Bobrovsky-is-so-incredible-why-are-fourth-liners-scoring-on-him players for the series. 

A major difference-maker on the scoreboard was the high number of power plays (six) awarded to the Bruins, who deserved to play the entire game on the man advantage given the officiating/rulebook snafu that gave Columbus a goal that shouldn't have counted. In between giving up shorthanded odd-man rush after odd-man rush, Boston got two Bergeron goals on the man advantage. 

Despite the Bruins having power play after power play, the Blue Jackets held a 13-8 edge in scoring chances over the first 20 minutes. They outchanced the B's, 11-10, in the second. If that one-goal lead felt like one eighth of a goal for viewers, it's because the Blue Jackets ranged from carrying the play to kicking the Bruins' asses. 

That the Bruins, the team leading, took over in the third period only goes to underscore how weird this series has been. By the time the final horn sounded, scoring chances were even at 31 apiece. 

Now, that number still isn't great for the Bruins given how much more time they spent on the power play than Columbus, but it's a start. The fact that three of the four goals came from players who could be characterized as "fighting it" is a good thing, but there were still issues even from the goal-scorers. 

Pastrnak was a nightmare with the puck on the power play, leading to multiple chances for Columbus. Bergeron passed up one very good chance in the second and later squandered a chance in all alone on Bobrovsky by dekeing until he was taken down. 

The silver lining — and really the reason why the Bruins should win this series — is that they're tied despite having areas of concern. The Blue Jackets are maximizing what they have. The Bruins should still feel like they're underachieving. 

Boston's stars still need to start scoring 5-on-5 with at least a drop of regularity, and it's not a "beating Bobrovsky" thing, it's a "create and sustain offensive pressure" thing. The power play personnel still might need addressing. For Rask's sake, the Bruins could stand to look more like their third-period form from Thursday. 

The Blue Jackets are happy to play low-scoring games in which they dictate the terms. If Boston gets its ducks in a row, the wins will come much easier than they did Thursday. 

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