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Three strikes, Boston teams are out during one frustrating night

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  April 24, 2013 09:51 AM

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Stink.

Stank.

Stunk.

That was one disastrous evening on the local professional sports docket.

For the second time in four days, all three of Boston’s in-season teams were in action within the realm of the same hours, and if you thought Saturday was disappointing after the Celtics fell to the Knicks in Game 1 of the Eastern quarterfinals and the Bruins lost – again – to the Penguins, leaving Daniel Nava and the Red Sox to bring up the lone, salvaging victory, then, well, Tuesday had its own semblance of frustration, confusion, and haplessness to deliver.

In order of most concerning, the Celtics collapsed in the second half their Eastern quarterfinal series against the Knicks, and fell 87-71, as New York now takes a 2-0 lead into Friday night’s Game 3 in Boston. Pretty sure Kevin Garnett came into the game with two fouls on him already, which might be a new rule we’re missing, but his teammates were, in a word, pathetic offensively after halftime. Boston scored 23 points in the third and fourth quarters, setting a franchise low for a half, and made only seven of 36 shots.

In the fourth quarter, the Celtics scored eight points. On its side, that’s ∞, the universal symbol for an infinity of futility.

We can play the “Would they be better with Rondo” game if you don’t feel like picking up the nearest pen and stabbing it into your cornea for something less painful, but this is essentially the Celtics team that fans have been dealt. They’ll likely make it a series still, but there’s little from the first two games that gives anyone hope that this team can get past the first round. Though it was the hope in the weeks leading up to the postseason, a deep run seems foolhardy.

Meanwhile in Philadelphia, the Bruins continued their impressive tailspin into the playoffs with a mind-numbing 5-2 loss to the soon-to-be-golfing Flyers. In their six losses, the Bruins have scored a total of 10 goals, a sure sign of their offensive ineptitude. Seemingly every goal is a result of a scramble around the net, including last night when Wade Redden scored his first Boston goal to tie the game at 1 in the first period. Things got worse.

The playoffs begin in a week, and the Bruins are in freefall. It all fell apart last night, from the tandem of Anton Khubodin and Tuukka Rask to defensive breakdowns to…well, Zdeno Chara.

That happened.

Chara’s goal on his own net pretty much sums up how things are going for the Bruins right now. Boston could have taken the opportunity to leapfrog Montreal for the division lead with a win Tuesday, but yet, the rivals remain with 59 points each, setting the Bruins up with either Ottawa or Toronto for a first-round matchup based on the current standings. Those are both pretty good opponents for the Bruins we were used to seeing for most of this season. But something is seriously wrong with this group, and based on its talent level, offensive firepower should not be a concern. Is the system broken then? Tim Thomas played mirage to many of the Bruins’ deficiencies during the Cup run two years ago. Asking Rask to do the same isn’t realistic. Maybe the approach simply needs to change in the offseason.

Finally, at Fenway Park, Alfredo Aceves gave us one of the most futile innings a baseball fan will ever see when he allowed six runs to Oakland, including two balks and a throwing error. The Sox lost, 13-0, the game called after seven innings at a damp, raw Fenway, and Aceves seemed to blame the game on everything from the strike zone to his teammates’ failure to hit behind him. The Sox did manage a measly three hits against the ageless Bartolo Colon (Stephen Drew, 0-2, .368 OPS), who is now 3-0 on the season for Oakland, but this was clearly a game in which Aceves lost whatever bit of mind he still possesses, and a possible precursor to his imminent release. With John Lackey and Daniel Bard on the mend, and after what we witnessed from Allen Webster Sunday night, is there really a need for the rumbling volcanic potential with Aceves? If Tuesday wasn’t the final straw, the man has incriminating photos of John Farrell or someone.

One night. Three demoralizing losses.

There have been better nights to be a Boston sports fan, but Tuesday brought with it a sense of doom for the Celtics season, and the franchise going forward, the Bruins’ ability to rekindle the magic of 2011, and jobs coming and going on the Red Sox, the only team of the three to lose Tuesday in the 617 area code under dark and cold foreboding skies that eventually put both teams and fans out of their misery earlier than originally anticipated.

They’ll be the first ones out of the gate Wednesday (4:05 p.m.) to try and rebound Boston from one of the worst sports evenings in recent memory.

All three teams will be back in action, in town, on the same day again come Sunday (Knicks-Celtics, 1 p.m., Astros-Red Sox, 1:35 p.m., Senators-Bruins, 7 p.m.). Mulligan.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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