Juxtaposition between Celtics, Bruins now is mind-blowing

Evan Marinofsky
May 20, 2019 - 6:15 am

It wasn't supposed to be this way. 

This time last year, the Celtics were fresh off coming within a game of the NBA Finals without stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. When those two guys came back, the Celtics were slated to run over the East en route to challenging the Warriors in the Finals. 

Jaylen Brown even said so. 

Around the same time, the Bruins had been ousted by the Lightning in five games. They were perceived as overachievers who weren't on the same level as the league's top teams, and they had an aging core. Tuukka Rask was on the fritz and Brad Marchand's apology tour for his licking was the main storyline. 

But things have went in very different directions since. 

As we sit here a year later, the Celtics had one of the most embarrassing seasons we've seen a Boston team have in forever, while the Bruins wait to see who they'll play in the Stanley Cup Final. 

The differences between the Garden inhabitants are as unexpected as they are palpable.

After the Bruins beat the Hurricanes in Game 4 to complete the sweep and advance to the Stanley Cup Final, Zdeno Chara, who was ruled out prior to the series-clincher, skated onto the ice in full pads to celebrate with his teammates, lead the handshake line and accept the Prince of Wales trophy. 

When the Celtics were in Game 7 of the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals, Kyrie Irving, the team's injured star, missed the game completely due to a deviated septum. 

One squad's star sat out a game and put on full pads to celebrate with his teammates afterwards. The other missed the game completely so as to not have a bad appearance for his movie career. 

The trend continues. 

Terry Rozier is in the midst of a media tour equivalent to an atomic bomb being dropped on the Celtics. It's no secret that Rozier's bites of humble pie weren't as delicious as many expected them to be -- with Irving back in the starting five this past season, Rozier was relegated back to the second team.

"No, I might have to go," Rozier told First Take. "I might have to go. I put up with a lot this year so I said what I said after this season. I think we all know I'm not trying to step into that again." 

Rozier continued to complain. 

"I sacrificed obviously my talent the most," said Rozier. "I think me being out there and giving my full style of play, how Terry Rozier play. I feel like I couldn't be that person this year." 

With the Bruins, a similar situation took place this past season when backup goalie Jaroslav Halak challenged Tuukka Rask for the starting job. Bruce Cassidy had no problem splitting time between the two, as come regular season's end, Rask only played in six more games. Halak's save percentage and goals-against average were better. There were even calls for Halak to start during the playoffs. 

Here's what Rask had to say about celebrating with Halak after advancing to the Cup. 

"He's been such a big part of our group, Jaro, all year," said Rask. "I wish he would've sprinted out of that door quicker but they didn't open it. I've been on that side -- not playing in the playoffs. He's been a big part of our group and happy he's my partner." 

Group. Partner.

Rask bought into having Halak challenge him while Rozier complained. 

The regular seasons of each team were also completely different. The Bruins were resilient in the face of a rash of injuries early on. In the playoffs, they came back from a 3-2 series deficit against the Maple Leafs to win. They finished off the Blue Jackets in six and never let the Hurricanes catch their breath. 

On the other end, the Celtics cowered in the face of adversity. Egos clashed, superstars fell and leadership was nowhere to be found. They told us all year that everything was fine; Kyrie Irving told us to wait for the playoffs. 

We did. And after winning Game 1 against the Bucks in the second round, they lost four straight and were done in the blink of an eye. 

The bottom line is that the Bruins have been likable and selfless, and the Celtics weren’t. 

Instead of sharing the Garden with the Bruins for Finals games this spring, a once promising future for the Celtics hangs in the balance. The future of Rozier in green looks bleak, Irving’s is murky, and the team’s isn’t what it was a year ago. 

All they had to do was follow their Causeway counterparts.