As many families around New England wrapped up their Easter Sundays, they had plenty to be thankful for, aside from the good fortune of spending the day with close friends and relatives. Among them, in no particular order:
Zdeno Chara‘s right skate
Michael Ryder‘s right hand
Rajon Rondo‘s Rondoness
Ray Allen‘s shooting stroke
Daisuke Matsuzaka‘s brilliance (seriously)
Jonathan Papelbon‘s newfound effectiveness
Tim Thomas‘ left toe
Nathan Horton‘s hands
Brad Marchand‘s nose
Most of all, they were thankful to be Boston sports fans, because that was one hell of a weekend.
Heading into Friday, there was more need for anxiety than celebration. The Celtics looked fairly terrible in their first two games against the Knicks, and heading to New York for the Knicks’ first home playoff game in seven years seemed like a tall task. What you saw, though, was the Celtics making things look easy. Rondo set a franchise playoff record with 20 assists as part of his triple-double, while Ray Allen and Paul Pierce shot the lights out at Madison Square Garden to combine for 70 points. By Sunday evening, they had finished off their first sweep in 19 years, looking perhaps as sharp as they have in a postseason series during the Big Three era.
Facing an even more daunting task was the Bruins, who had just won a thriller in Montreal to stay alive. Coming home for a pivotal Game 5 (by rule, you must refer to every Game 5 as pivotal) would be a challenge, as winning on home ice had proven to be an elusive objective through the first four games of the series. What ensued was equal parts thrilling and agonizing, as the Bruins and Canadiens turned in 90 minutes of classic playoff hockey. Thanks to some endurance, wherewithal and, of course, a bit of luck, the B’s came out winners, grabbing the all-important 3-2 series lead.
And then, as always, there were the Boston Red Sox. Though they had turned things around a bit the previous weekend, they took one step forward, one step back in Oakland last week. They headed to Anaheim on Thursday with a 6-11 record, still keeping them near the bottom of the league. Yet, fueled by impressive efforts from Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lackey, a game-winning double by Adrian Gonzalez and a (fingers crossed) slump-breaking homer from Carl Crawford, the Sox came away with their first four-game sweep in Anaheim since 1980, bringing their record to 10-11 and getting them to just 3 1/2 games out of first place. After a disastrous start to the season, getting as far as they have before May 1 is an impressive feat, to say the least.
While there wasn’t much Patriots news to speak of, any weekend that doesn’t bring news of Tom Brady ponytailing it up on the streets of Rio de Janeiro is a good weekend.
Put it all together, and add in a Lakers loss, a Bulls loss, a second straight blown save for Mariano Rivera, sour grapes comments from Mike D’Antoni about Rondo, apologetic tweets from a red-faced Max Pacioretty and a devastated Spike Lee, and there were even added benefits.
Obviously, the City of Boston doesn’t celebrate minor accomplishments, and there’s never reason to truly be satisfied until you’re lined up on Tremont Street, watching the Duck Boats roll on by. Still, championships can’t be won every weekend, and sometimes you just need to soak it all in and enjoy being a part of the wild ride that is being a Boston sports fan.
Thanks to an incredible few days, the Bruins, Celtics and Red Sox made doing that very, very easy.