BOSTON (CBS) — Asked what he wants for Christmas this year, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick wasn’t really in the mood to delve into his wish list on Sunday.
“I’ll kind of leave that stuff on the personal side. I’m trying to get the team ready to go next week against the Jets,” Belichick deadpanned, ending any hope he may have a little fun with such a softball of a question.
He told us later in the week that he’s not really a hard candy guy, so by process of elimination you can forget about getting the Patriots coach any candy canes and lollipops this holiday season.
But that means we can have some fun of our own. Here’s what we think the local sports teams would like to find under their trees this year:
New England Patriots
– A healthy Julian Edelman
The New England offense hasn’t been the same since Julian Edelman went down with a broken foot in Week 10. His return in time for the playoffs would be a nice present for quarterback Tom Brady and the rest of the offense.
– No. More. Injuries.
Please, everyone that is healthy stay healthy over the next two weeks. That may be hard with the Patriots still playing for something, but health should be their priority as they close the regular season.
Maybe Steven Jackson will buck the trend of starting running backs getting hurt for the Patriots.
– The No. 1 seed
A bye is in the books already, but that No. 1 seed in the AFC would mean the road to Santa Clara goes through Foxboro. The Patriots need just one more win to clinch, so a win over the Jets on Sunday would allow them to rest their players when they head to Miami for Week 17.
– Sweet Repeat
How sweet would a Super Bowl repeat be following all the nonsense during the offseason? It would be wonderful to see this exchange happen again:
– A go-to scorer
The Celtics’ depth is great and Isaiah Thomas has done all he can, but they need a stud to take the final shot at the end of games. No one has been able to step up and assert themselves as Boston’s go-to scorer, which has to be on top of the wish lists of Brad Stevens, Danny Ainge and owner Wyc Grousbeck.
– More Nets losses
It’s been nice not talking about “tankin’ it” this season, and we can thank the Brooklyn Nets for that. The Celtics own their first-round pick this year, and there’s a good chance it’ll end up somewhere in the Top 5.
But they aren’t losing enough for our fancy at the moment. Brooklyn is up to eight wins on the season, good for the third-worst record in the NBA behind the Lakers and 76ers. There’s no chance they’ll catch Philadelphia’s horrendousness in the standings, but the Celtics could use as many Brooklyn losses as possible to ensure a nice summertime present.
– A healthy Marcus Smart
The second-year guard has struggled to stay on the court at times during his brief NBA career, and he’s missed 17 games with a knee injury so far this season. Going against Boston’s D is a much more frustrating task for opposing offenses when Smart is out there, so the C’s will need him if they want to make any noise in the Eastern Conference this season.
The good news is the team is hoping for a New Year’s return for the pesky defender. Hopefully he can stay on the floor the rest of the season.
– An All-Star nod for Isaiah Thomas
Boston’s miniature scoring machine has had a very solid start to the season and provided a spark to their starting five when he took over for the injured Smart. He’s proved that he’s more than just a role player, ranking in the top 20 scorers in the league with 21 points per game, and deserves a spot alongside the NBA’s best this February in Toronto.
– A return to the postseason
Last season’s postseason run was fun (until it came to a quick end at the hands of the Cavaliers), but this year is going to be a lot tougher to make it back to the tournament.
At 16-13 following Wednesday night’s win over the Hornets, the Celtics are currently on the outside looking in at the postseason. How crowded is the Eastern Conference’s playoff picture? At 16-13, the Celtics are just two games back of the 2-seed in the East.
Brad Stevens has said all season the Celtics are going to have to play better — a lot better — than last season if they want to return to the playoffs. Let’s hope Santa has a few lengthy losing streaks for the eight teams ahead of Boston in the standings, and a nice long winning streak for the C’s.
Boston Red Sox
– A winning season
This is a gift we’ll have to wait for, but enough of the last-place finishes by the Red Sox. They have their ace, a new closer and a new man in charge of the front office. It’s time for October baseball to return to Boston on a consistent basis.
– A taker for Hanley Ramirez
– Continued good health for John Farrell
Here’s to hoping John Farrell continues to win his battle with lymphoma. He’ll be back in the Boston dugout next spring, so continued success to Farrell on both fronts!
– A top-two defenseman
Unless they can somehow get their hands on a time machine for Zdeno Chara, the Bruins need another top-paring defenseman (or two or three). They have a little bit of salary cap room to play around with, so maybe Don Sweeney can get a blue liner under the tree before all the needles fall off and it’s on the side of the road.
– A Winter Classic win
Forget that the game will be played in front of 68,000 people and on National TV. It’s the Montreal Canadiens, and it’s always fun to watch the B’s beat their biggest rival. And first place in the Atlantic Division will likely be on the line by the time the two teams take the ice at Gillette Stadium, making a W all the more important.
– Overtake The Habs In Atlantic
Let’s take that Winter Classic win a step further and ask for a division crown for the Bruins.
There were such low expectations for the team heading into the season, but the deeper we get into the campaign the more it looks like they’ll play a role in deciding the division. And by deciding, we mean actually competing for a division title.
Success of the local teams is measured in championships, but it’s a nice treat when both the Bruins and Celtics can make the winter months a little more tolerable in Boston.