A TOUCH of real life hit the Celtics as they prepared for Game 3 of their second-round series with the Bucks.
Danny Ainge, their 60-year-old president, suffered a mild heart attack Tuesday night in Milwaukee.
So instead of thinking what the Celtics, who now have home court in their series with the top seeds, have to do to adjust to the adjustments made by the top seeds in Game 2, the attention was on Ainge, who reportedly will be fine.
“He’s resting well and feels better,” Celts coach Brad Stevens said Thursday. “Obviously, always scary but he’s got a good support network. Expect a full recovery and he’s feeling good. So that’s all positive. Certainly scary.”
The Celtics’ official release read: “Danny Ainge suffered a mild heart attack in Milwaukee on Tuesday night. He received immediate medical attention and is expected to make a full recovery. He will return to Boston shortly. Further updates will be provided as appropriate.”
The bit of reality hit the team at a time it looks to recover from Tuesday night’s blowout. With old pal Paul Pierce declaring the series “over” after his old team’s first-game blowout win, the Bucks rebounded, blowing things open in the second half.
Both teams have been missing key guards: Marcus Smart of the Celtics and Malcolm Brogdon of the Bucks. Smart is working out and was seen dunking in practice Thursday, but is a ways off. Brogdon is out for Game 3 Friday night in Boston. Both are valuable to their teams.
Terry Rozier, talking to Yahoo about his team after the Celtics won the opener against Milwaukee, said, “We were going through a lot of stuff during the season … dealing with a lot of guys battling one another for spots and stuff. But I feel like we put everything behind us. … I don’t really know our identity. I can’t make it up in one word. I’d say we’re … pretty interesting.”
The Bradley effect
We all know Jackie Bradley Jr. is as good as it gets when it comes to playing center field. We also know JBJ is as streaky as it comes when it comes to hitting. A guy who can look so lost for long periods of time can do what he did in the ALCS.
These days, Bradley is in one of his funks — and Alex Cora is sticking with him, clearly willing to live with the lack of offense to have the guy in center field, thus leaving J.D. Martinez in the DH spot.
“You know what he brings defensively,” Cora said earlier this week. “When he’s doing things like this: putting the ball in play, staying up the middle, you want to keep rolling with him because you feeling like he’s close enough that he can take off.”
When Bradley, he of the long swing, is hitting poorly like this, you always wonder when it will end.
Entering the start of the road trip in Chicago Thursday night, Bradley, coming off a 5-for-26 homestand, was hitting .156, with five RBIs. Not counting the postseason (three homers in 40 at-bats), Bradley had gone 115 regular season at-bats without a home run (actually one fewer than Rafael Devers, who hit one homer in the postseason).
Cora on his team: “It was just a bad start for everybody. I mean, people can point out our spring training or whatever. I don’t think that’s the thing. Judge us over 162 games. See what happens. And they did struggle early. Now they found their rhythm and we’ll see where it takes us.”
The Red Sox are getting their latest look at Yoan Moncada, one of the prospects swapped for Chris Sale.
Moncada, now a third baseman, came into Thursday night’s game hitting .314, with five homers, 17 RBIs and six doubles — and made it clear in the Chicago Sun Times that the goal for people to see that the White Sox did well in the big trade.
“That’s what we want,” he said. “That’s what we’re looking for. Hopefully we’re going to accomplish that, but that’s definitely our goal.”
Righty Michael Kopech is spending the season recovering from Tommy John surgery. Outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe (a top prospect) and righty Victor Diaz are also in the system.
Sale, of course, brings his 0-5 record and 6.30 ERA to the mound in Game 2 of the series on Friday night. The Red Sox, coming off a sweep of Oakland to get to 14-17, are 0-6 in his six starts.
If you happened to see the Billboard Music Awards Wednesday night, you couldn’t help but see Rob Gronkowski right there behind Taylor Swift in the audience, having a great time.
In short, Gronk has been VERY visible since announcing his retirement from the NFL at age 29. There will be no shortage of his chances to make money. Pats fans have to rely on his love for football for a potential comeback.
Is it too hard to stay away? None of us knows the pain he has had to endure during his nine-year career. None of us has had to deal with defenses getting away with more against him than against most other players.
If you remember the season Rob Ninkovich decided he’d had enough, count me among those who expected No. 50 to return during that season. I’m having the same feeling now. Will Gronk be back? Stay tuned.
Thescore.com gave the Patriots the No. 2 spot when ranking how teams fared in the recent draft, saying, “While the reigning Super Bowl champs lost Rob Gronkowski, receiver N’Keal Harry and pass-rusher Chase Winovich are typical Bill Belichick steals who’ll likely immediately play big roles in the Patriots’ title defense.”
Thursday night marked the first time in Blue Jackets history they played a game in May.
During Game 3, Mike Milbury, who has done an outstanding job working color in the playoffs, was talking about the Bruins’ unproductive big guns and said, “These guys gotta get it together or Boston won’t win the series.”
Riley Nash had his former Bruins teammates to his house during regular-season visits to Columbus. Not in the playoffs. “Might be a couple of invitations lost in the mail. It’s a pretty big prize on the line,” he told The Athletic’s Joe McDonald.
A new bowl game at Fenway Park between ACC and AAC teams, plus two other new bowl games will make it 43 bowl games next season. That means 65 percent of all FBS schools will get an extra game.
Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.