Mazz: 3 takeaways from a very busy weekend in Boston sports
Apr 20, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) celebrates with guard Jaylen Brown (7) as Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) walks away during the fourth quarter of game two of the first round of the 2022 NBA playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: on the sports calendar, there is no month quite like April. Beginning Friday, Boston teams played six eventful games over a span of roughly 48 hours, winning some, losing others, producing an array of highlights, lowlights and discussion points as we approach the end of the month.
The most important performance came from the Celtics, of course, who put a stranglehold on their series with the Brooklyn Nets via a 109-103 victory that gave Boston a commanding 3-0 advantage in the best-of-7 series. And if there was a sequence that defined who the Celtics have been in this series – and who they have become – it was the one we’re about to show you.
So we’ll start there with the first of our three weekend takeaways:
Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are a two-headed monster
Apr 23, 2022; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) takes a three point shot over Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) in the first quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
The Celtics led for the final 44 minutes of Saturday’s win, but the Nets made more than their share of runs. Perhaps the most significant came during the fourth quarter, when Blake Griffin entered the game and gave the Nets a serious jolt of life.
Over a span of roughly four minutes, Griffin scored eight points that twice cut the Celtics lead to five points and once cut the lead to four. And on every occasion – mostly with Jaylen Brown exploiting Griffin at the defensive end – the Celtics answered with a succession of big hoops that effectively ended the game. You can see them here:
Linus Ullmark has caught fire – and everything else
Apr 23, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark (35) makes a glove save against the New York Rangers during the first period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
The Bruins celebrated the returns of David Pastrnak (two points, +2), Hampus Lindholm (a team-leading 24:41, +1) and Ullmark (30 saves on 31 shots) on Saturday – and all contributed mightily to a 3-1 win over the Rangers. Ullmark is now 7-1 with a .939 save percentage in his last 10 games (two relief appearances) and has passed Jeremy Swayman as the No. 1 goalie. He has demonstrated a sharp glove hand all year, something he showed off during Saturday’s win:
Trevor Story is having some difficulty with the move to 2B
Apr 24, 2022; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Boston Red Sox second baseman Trevor Story (10) throws the ball for an out against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Story had his most eventful weekend as a member of the Red Sox, factoring into the first two games of a weekend series in a very big way. On Friday, Story made three good defensive plays, including a pair in the ninth inning that preserved the Red Sox 4-3 victory, the team’s only win of the series. But on Saturday, after the Red Sox were no-hit for nine innings – yes, you read that correctly – the Sox had a 2-0 lead with two outs in the 10th inning when Story’s throwing error triggered a Tampa Bay comeback that produced a 3-2 Red Sox defeat.
Story has two errors so far this season and the move to second base from shortstop has created entirely different throwing angles for him. While he has demonstrated excellent athleticism overall, the move to the other side of the infield has resulted in some transitional issues that bear watching: