The Celtics had the spotlight to themselves last night, and they responded after surviving a few early haymakers from the Sixers. Curt Schilling returns to the Red Sox tonight against the Yankees, and we have a number of Patriots articles from this morning as well.
The Celtics hung in tough, surviving a number of first half runs by the 76ers to come back and win down in Philadelphia, 105-98 to extend their Atlantic Division lead to three with five games to play. The key to the game for the Celtics was taking the ball to the hoop, as they got to foul line 49 times…making 40 foul shots. Amazing numbers. Even Tommy Heinsohn couldn’t say too much after the game, though he did comment that Antoine Walker wasn’t getting some calls. Gotta love Tommy. Shira Springer and Mark Murphy look at the biggest win of the season for the C’s, who have a bit of breathing room now in the division. Al Jefferson had some important buckets in the game for the Celtics, finishing with 13 points, Springer’s notebook looks at the contributions of the rookie forward, and also at another hand injury for Delonte West. Murphy’s notebook looks at the free throw discrepancy, as the Celtics went to the line 19 times more than the Sixers did. As you might imagine this didn’t sit well with Philly.
Curt Schilling makes his 2005 Red Sox debut tonight against the Yankees. He of course is the subject of all the lead baseball articles this morning. Gordon Edes writes that it is fitting that Schilling makes his return against ARod and the Yankees. Jeff Horrigan says that Schilling is “very nervous” but ready for tonight. Joe McDonald writes that with Schilling back, everything is in place now for the Red Sox. David Heuschkel notes that this season will be the first for Schilling in five years in which he won’t have a future Hall of Famer next to him in the rotation. David Borges says Schilling has no limitations due to injury tonight, and only hopes to win the game. Karen Guregian says that Schilling is aiming to silence anyone who thinks he is rushing back to the big club too soon. Gerry Callahan (subscription only) writes that with Schilling back healthy and on the mound, and all the hoopla from the rings and season openers, the season actually begins tonight. He says it is time to “turn the page” and focus on 2005. He says the Red Sox should follow Manny’s example in that regard. He had been waived in the fall of 2003, no one claimed him. He could’ve sulked. He instead showed up with a good attitude and said it was time to “turn the page”.
The next page for Manny was a league-leading 43 homers, 130 RBI and a World Series MVP award. He stood in stark contrast to those who refused to turn the page - namely Nomar Garciaparra and Pedro Martinez, who carried their petty grudges right out of town. Now Francona and Co. have a job to do: Get them all to turn the page as effectively as Manny did. The Sox won last year because the idiots outnumbered the egomaniacs and because they refused to let the weight of history wear them down. They just played.
Elsewhere, Jim Donaldson says it wasn’t just classy for Joe Torre to have his Yankees sit and watch the ceremonies on Monday, it was also a great motivational tool. Stephen Harris reports on fans who showed up at Fenway yesterday to view the World Series Trophy and Rings. Joe Haggerty takes another look back at the Fenway love-in. Sasha Talcott looks at Theo Epstein as a advertising star. David Borges has at former Sox farmhands Rose and Pavano and the divergent paths each has taken. Howard Bryant (subscription only) has a Boston Uncommon column today in which he looks at Bud Selig’s comments on parity in MLB. He also however has a section on the Celtics, how Danny Ainge is rebuilding them, and that it would be great for Boston to have a solid late spring NBA club. Edes’ notebook observes that after all these early season off days, the club will have only one day off in the next 29. Horrigan’s notebook looks at the new playing surface at Fenway, and who will be sent down to make room for Schilling.
Mike Reiss looks at the Patriots plans to meet with free agent middle linebacker Chris Draft. Michael Felger looks at the Patriots extensive draft preparations. Brian Fleming has a piece on Rodney Harrison’s training to become an NFL official after his playing days. Tom E Curran has a Patriots notebook looking at the team’s White House appearance today and the NFL schedule being released. Jerome Solomon and Nick Cafardo also cover these topics in the Globe. Felger’s notebook says that Tedy Bruschi will be joining the team at the White House. If you go to Patriots.com, you can see a brief video interview with Bruschi from Fenway park on Monday.
NESN has Red Sox/Yankees at 7:00. (ESPN2 Nationally) FSN has Celtics/Bucks at 8:00. ESPN has Bulls/Wizards at 8:00 and Mavericks/SuperSonics at 10:00. ESPN2 has Dodgers/Giants at 10:00.