Okay, now it’s officially basketball season in New England. Although the Boston Celtics started their highly anticipated season back on October 16th, they have been overshadowed by the Boston Red Sox’s successful World Series run. That’s how it goes in the competitive world of Boston sports, where anything before the playoffs feels like the preseason. The Red Sox won it all on Sunday, and now, it’s up to see if the Celtics can pick up where their baseball counterparts left off.
After the Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 5 of the World Series, the Celtics joined their fellow New England sports teams in congratulating them, tweeting out “#DAMAGEDONE” alongside an image of Lucky the Leprechaun decked out in full Sox gear. The next day, various Celtics stars talked about taking inspiration from the newly crowned champions. “They set the standards of what’s expected here in Boston and what we’re trying to accomplish,” big man Aron Baynes said, acknowledging the longstanding bond between the Red Sox and the city.
“It’s only right they won the whole thing,” Gordon Hayward said, “They call it Title Town for a reason, so now we have to do our job.”
It’s not a stretch comparing the two teams. First of all, they are two big spending major market teams. The Red Sox had the biggest payroll in the MLB while the 2018-19 Celtics are currently above the luxury tax line. They both have long histories and, as fans outside the East Coast will gladly tell you, they both manage to get a healthy amount of media attention when they’re in playoff contention.
These Celtics started their season as the favorites to win the Eastern Conference, while the 108 win Red Sox established themselves as the team to beat in the American League from very early on in theirs. Both teams are a mix of big name players acquired via free agency or trade and talented young players they drafted on tier own. They also feature bench players that are as likely to make a difference as their All-Stars (is World Series MVP Steve Pearce the baseball equivalent of “Scary” Terry Rozier or is it vice-versa).
Plus, they’re both led by relatively young coaches who have impressed right out of the gate. In fact, earlier this month, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens expressed his admiration for Red Sox manager Alex Cora for getting his players to buy in, even when it means they have to share the spotlight with their teammates.
When Cora benched Brock Holt the game after he hit for the cycle against the New York Yankees for strategic reasons, Stevens pointed to this decision as a perfect example of what he wants to do this year with his talent-stocked Celtics team: “Going for the cycle and getting a DNP the next day is how you win, right? Being willing to take on those roles – both as the guy that did it and the guy that replaced him the next night, those things matter. They’ve set a great example for us.”
It might seem like a tall order to expect the Celtics to win a championship immediately after the Red Sox won it all, especially considering that their NBA Finals could very well be the nigh-invincible Golden State Warriors. It is, however, anything but unprecedented. After all, the last time the Celtics won it all was in 2008, less than a year after the 2007 Red Sox won their second championship of the century. If anything, the Celtics should see the Red Sox’ latest World Series as a good luck charm. There’s always room for another trophy in Title Town.