Celtics understand banner night will be full of emotion


Celtics understand banner night will be full of emotion

MIAMI -- Defending an NBA title is not easy.

Winning the first game of the following season is no walk in the park, either.

The emotions of opening night interspersed with the feelings that come about in receiving an NBA championship ring can be a bit overwhelming. The Celtics certainly hope that's the case tonight when they open on the road against a Heat team that will receive their championship rings prior to the game.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers knows all too well how challenging it can be to tip the hat one more time in acknowledgment of the previous season's success, and to follow that up with a game that is often against one of the teams you rolled over to win that title.

After Boston's 2008 title, they opened the following season at home against the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers with a hard-earned 90-85 win.

It was a game that Rivers was pleasantly surprised that the C's were able to win.

"I thought we were going to get destroyed," Rivers recalled. "It was a great (ring) ceremony, but when Paul (Pierce) started crying I turned to one of my assistant coaches and said, 'We have no chance tonight.' "

Banner 17 came more than 20 years after the Celtics' previous title, so it was understandable how emotions would be all over the place that night.

However, the Heat aren't nearly as far removed from their previous championship which came in 2006.

"Miami has the advantage of going through it twice," Rivers said.

After they won the franchise's first title in 2006, they proceeded to get blown out on ring night by the Chicago Bulls 108-66. Last season began for the Heat in Dallas on their ring night, with the road team once again finding success as Miami prevailed, 105-94.

Because of those experiences, Rivers said, "they'll be a little more prepared than the average ring team."

Heat players and coaches are well aware of the struggles the home team often has on ring night.

"We want to honor and respect this night in the ceremony, to be able to raise that banner in front of our fans," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "It took a tremendous amount of work collectively to accomplish that. We don't want to diminish that."

Spoelstra added: "We don't want to celebrate that and stink up the joint in the most important thing, which is the game."

Dombrowski, Red Sox making adjustments in wake of recent departures


Dombrowski, Red Sox making adjustments in wake of recent departures

In recent days and weeks, the Red Sox have lost their general manager, their vice president of amateur and international scouting, an assistant director of amateur scouting, a member of their analytics department and their mental skills coach.

But Dave Dombrowski, the team's president of baseball operations, insists that the team is not in danger of "brain drain.''

"No, not at all,'' said president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski in a conference call with reporters. "We've lost some good people, but it's also a situation where we have a lot of good people and I think when you have a good organization, if you're winning and you expose people to situations, (a certain amount of exodus) happens. I think the other part of it is that we're more than capable of filling some of those roles from an internal perspective. We've got some quality people and I think the thing that's great about it is, it allows people to grow.''

Dombrowski announced that, in the wake of the departure of Amiel Sawdaye, the former VP of amateur and international scouting who left Monday to become assistant GM of the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Sox were promoting Eddie Romero, formerly the vice president of international scouting, to the position of senior vice president/ assistant GM.

Romero, the son of former Red Sox utility infielder Eddie Romero Sr. will help Dombrowski in personnel matters and player development, while Brian O'Halloran, who has the same title as Romero, will continue to handle administrative matters including salary arbitration and contactual negotiations.

After the departure of Mike Hazen, who left to become GM of the Diamondbacks last week, Dombrowski interviewed Sawdaye and Romero as Hazen's potential replacements before determining that neither had the necessary experience yet to become a major league GM.

Dombrowski said there would be additional internal promotions and adjustments to announce in the coming weeks. He added that senior advisors Frank Wren and Allard Baird, each former general managers, would see their responsibilities increase when it comes to conducting trade talks with other organizations.

Sawdaye's departure is one of several this off-season for the front office. Earlier this month, Steve Sanders, who had been the team's assistant director of amateur scouting, left to become director of amateur scouting for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Also, Tom Tippett, a longtime member of the team's statistical analysis staff, will leave soon too pursue other opportunities. The team recently informed mental skills coach Bob Tewksbury that his contact would not be renewed, according to the Boston Globe.

Dombrowski indicated that Laz Gutierrez would be promoted to take the place of Tewksbury.

In other news, Dombrowski revealed that the entire coaching staff -- hitting coach Chili Davis; assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez; first base coach Ruben Amaro Jr.; third base coach Brian Butterfield; bullpen coach Dana LeVangie; pitching coach Carl Willis; and bench coach Torey Lovullo -- had all agreed to return for 2017.

That, of course, is subject to change since Lovullo is believed to be a target of Hazen for Arizona's managerial vacancy.

Dombrowski said the Diamondbacks had yet to request permission to speak with Lovullo, though that may happen soon now that Hazen has hired Sawdaye to fill out his front office.

When Hazen was hired by the Diamondbacks, he was limited to hiring just one member of the Red Sox' Baseball Operations staff. But, Dombrowski added, that limit didn't apply to uniformed staff members such as Lovullo, who would be leaving for a promotion.