Picked-up pieces while monitoring the southbound Red Sox equipment truck with my GPS tracking device …
▪ The Celtics have played almost two-thirds of their regular season, have the best record in the NBA, and are consensus favorites to win the NBA championship. We just saw them beat Brooklyn by 43 points, and they have a “big” game with Joel Embiid and the 76ers Wednesday on Causeway Street.
What do members of the Celtic family see when they watch this team run toward a possible record-breaking 18th banner?
Paul Pierce was here last weekend for Celtics-Lakers (LeBron James just finished crying about not getting a call at the end of regulation) and casually told our Gary Washburn that Jayson Tatum “could be the greatest Celtic to ever play.”
Get back, Loretta.
With this in mind, we rounded up Bob Cousy, Dave Cowens, and M.L. Carr to discuss these Celtics. Cousy and Cowens are two of only four Celtics ever named NBA MVP (Bill Russell and Larry Bird, who combined for eight MVPS, are the others). Cooz, Cowens, and Carr won a combined 10 championships. Cowens and Carr both coached the team, and M.L. was the boss of basketball operations a decade before Danny Ainge built the team that delivered the most recent banner in 2008.
This is what they see:
Cousy: “I’d love for them to hang up No. 18 so I can watch it. I think they have a good shot. I’ve seen all the other teams, and Golden State is still the team to beat. [Robert] Williams is back playing. It seems he can’t play more than 20 minutes without getting hurt, but they’re going to need him. The key will be if he can play meaningful minutes. He can do so many things that I haven’t seen, frankly, since Russell. He’s got great quickness and timing for a big man.
“Everyone tells me they like the young coach [Joe Mazzulla]. His body language is good. He’s not emotional. He’s under control for a 34-year-old. But those players — it’s good they are socially active and feel the need to speak out — they’ve got to stop bitching at the officials. It makes me wonder if this coach, at his age, does he have the gravitas when he walks into that locker room? Do 12 guys look up and listen to what he has to say? At his age, that’s difficult.
“I love [Jayson] Tatum. He toys with most of the teams. He scores as easily as anyone I’ve ever seen in the league. He’s got so many moves, but sometimes he just tries to do too much. And he still has to prove it on the big stage.”
Cowens: “They’ve got a chance. That’s all you can say. It’s not going to be easy, no matter who they play. The Celtics have really good depth, better than most. And they’ve got older guys who have been around.
“Tatum has grown so much as a player. He’s doing more things at an elite level. He’s finishing much better. Stronger. He seems to be more consistent with shot selection. The one thing that hurts a player in this age of basketball is excessive dribbling and trying to take people off the dribble. That leads to turnovers, and that’s the one thing that hurt Tatum last year. If the Celtics can be smart and eliminate turnovers, they’ve got to be one of the favorites for sure.
“The coach is young, but does it really matter? This team seems very even-keeled. They don’t get bothered by a lot of things. They shrug it off. These players have the experience and the maturity now. They don’t need to be led, they just need to be put in the right spot and stay with what works.
“Derrick White’s been really good for them. And this team seems to like each other. They don’t have those issues. Remember when [Rajon] Rondo was here? They always had the issues and the [expletive] with the coach. I don’t think they have that now.
“Williams does his job. He hides out on the baseline on the weak side. Good shot blockers wait until the last second, and he waits and is able to cover a lot of distance in a very short period of time. I like his demeanor. He never says anything or acts like he’s upset about anything or too happy. He just does his job.”
Carr: “This team is one of my favorite Celtic teams of all time. I’m watching them closely. Jaylen Brown amazes me. He’s the type of athlete who would be great at any sport he decided on. He’s got incredible basketball IQ. He reads the defense I think as good as Larry. I know he plays a different position, but he’s a little bit like their Sam Jones. When Jaylen makes up his mind to score, he’s going to score or he’s going to get to the line.
“This team we are watching right now is going to put another banner up there, and one of the reasons is because of what Jayson Tatum is doing. He’s only 24 and he’s going to go down in history as one of the great Celtics. It’s all over him. He has the makings of a Larry. No big guy passed the ball like Larry. I haven’t seen it. But this young man has a chance to do some of the things that Larry did.”
▪ Quiz: Name the six quarterbacks who threw four or more touchdown passes in a single Super Bowl (answer below).
▪ A casual inspection of this year’s Red Sox front office directory reveals no less than 57 vice presidents. The largest department, naturally, is “Baseball Research and Development,” which is a polite title for “analytics.” There are 30 people in that department. No wonder ticket prices are so high.
▪ The hits just keep coming for Chaim Bloom & Co. Keith Law, considered an expert on this sort of thing, has ranked the Red Sox farm system 23rd in all of baseball and last in the American League East.
▪ A reader e-mailed to remind us that “Tom Brady retires” is an anagram for “Sorry, I’m battered.”
▪ Hank Willis Thomas, who created the controversial Dr. Martin Luther King/Coretta Scott King monument (”The Embrace”) on Boston Common, has a stainless steel work that will be displayed outside State Farm Stadium during Super Bowl Week. Titled “Opportunity (reflection),” the 10-foot statue features the arm of an anonymous player reaching up to catch a football.
▪ Not enough is made of how much Bill Belichick and the Patriots miss Ernie Adams. I thought of this last weekend when DeVonta Smith got away with a critical 29-yard non-catch in the opening moments of Philadelphia’s rout of the 49ers.
The play was a game-changer when Eagles-49ers was still a game. Belichick/Adams would have picked up on Smith’s attempt to get his team to quickly snap off another play and avoid the challenge. It was a clear tell, but Kyle Shanahan didn’t challenge it and everything changed.
▪ More Shanahan: OK, we all know he had virtually no chance to beat the Eagles without any healthy quarterbacks, but that’s no excuse for giving up in the third and fourth quarters. Everyone in the world knew Brock Purdy could not throw, which made it ridiculously easy for the Eagles to defend.
The 49ers would have been better off with Christian McCaffrey playing quarterback. Or anyone who ever threw a football.
A pro football locker room is populated with athletes. They all threw the ball at one time or another. Just about every big league baseball player was a pitcher and/or shortstop as a young player. Same with quarterback.
By playing it safe, Shanahan threw up a white flag in the interest of keeping the score respectable in a loss. No good. Take a chance. Mix it up.
▪ In this spirit, the Eagles got to the Super Bowl the old-fashioned Tomato Can/Patriot Way. Philly got the first-round bye, second-round home game vs. a TC (Giants), then played a conference championship game vs. a team that lost its best player to an injury.
▪ Glendale, Ariz., is the site of two of the top five Super Bowls of all time — both involving the Patriots. Glendale is where David Tyree made The Catch and New England’s 18-0 season went down the tubes. It is also where Pete Carroll delivered a Super Bowl championship to Bob Kraft 18 years after Kraft hired him to coach the Patriots.
▪ Grand Slam tennis singles titles: 1. Margaret Court, 24; Serena Williams, 23; Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, 22.
▪ Congrats to Holy Cross for locking up football coach Bob Chesney through the 2027 season. The Crusaders went 12-1 last year. They’ll play Harvard in the third annual Edward Bennett Williams Bowl Sept. 30 at Polar Park.
▪ Does anybody else automatically think of Kyle Chandler and “Friday Night Lights” every time announcers speak of “Coach Taylor” during Bengals games?
▪ Proving that James Dolan has a knack for good PR, former Trump staffer Hope Hicks has joined Madison Square Garden as a consultant.
▪ A new baseball park coming to Tampa/St. Petersburg? Who’s gonna miss the catwalks?
▪ The Cooler, a.k.a Adrian Gonzalez, is on next year’s Hall of Fame ballot.
▪ Cumberland, Maine’s, Greely High defeated Fryeburg Academy, 117-115, in boys’ basketball in an eight-overtime classic Tuesday night at the Greely gym. Kade Ippolito’s layup with 0.6 left on the clock was the game-winner. The score was 61-61 at the end of regulation. Six players fouled out. I would read a book about this game.
▪ Speaking of high school hoops, Bishop Hendricken — where Mazzulla was a three-time Rhode Island state champ — plays a boys’ varsity game in Mazzulla’s new hometown of Newton at Newton North Sunday at 1 p.m.
▪ Quiz answer: Steve Young (six TD passes vs. San Diego), Joe Montana (five vs. Denver), Tom Brady (four vs. Seattle), Troy Aikman (four vs. Buffalo), Doug Williams (four vs. Denver), Terry Bradshaw (four vs. Dallas).
Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @dan_shaughnessy.