The Boston Marathon’s return to Patriots’ Day was just a part of what made this weekend in Boston so special. Charles Krupa/Associated Press

For the first time in years, things felt somewhat normal in Boston this weekend.

The city was buzzing with action as fans were dreaming of championships. The Celtics opened up their series with the hated Brooklyn Nets on Sunday, 24 hours after the Bruins clinched their spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

All of this was going down while the Red Sox held their first homestand of the season across town and the Boston Marathon was being run on Patriots’ Day for the first time since 2019.

These are the weekends we live for as sports fans.

The Boston-Brooklyn series is already shaping up as an all-timer. The Celtics won 115-114 when Jayson Tatum’s layup dropped through the hoop as the TD Garden clock struck zero. It was an instant classic, a battle that ranks up with some of the greatest playoff games in the storied history of the franchise.

Can our hearts handle seven games like this? The Celtics had a 15-point lead in the third quarter, fell behind by five in the fourth, and finished with a 13-7 run before a thunderous home crowd. First round? This felt like the NBA finals. And we’re just getting started.


If it goes the distance this series will stretch into May, just as the Bruins begin their playoff run. There’s a chance their postseason could begin at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers, an Original Six matchup that could also feel more like a late-playoff series.

The Bruins need to get healthy if they want to be playing deep into the playoffs. David Pastrnak (oblique), Hampus Lindholm (knee) and Linus Ullmark (upper body injury) were all out for Saturday’s win over the Penguins, seriously hampering Bruce Cassidy’s team in all aspects of the game.

The Bruins are likely to make the playoffs as a wild-card entry, looking to upset a top seed in the first round. They are somewhat of a mystery, and wouldn’t surprise us if they won a couple of rounds. Or if they were knocked out quickly. If the three injured players come back they are capable of beating anyone in the Eastern Conference.

This is how it used to be. The Garden rocking nightly with playoff action. The Red Sox building up optimism with wins at Fenway Park. Sunday afternoon had the makings of an old-school blowout as seven Sox batters got hits in the eighth inning, turning a 2-1 pitchers’ duel into an 8-1 laugher.

They were back at it Monday morning, with 42-year-old lefty Rich Hill making his first start for his hometown team since he last pitched for the Sox in 2015. He took the mound with a heavy heart after losing his father Friday. Lloyd Hill, Sr. ran the marathon 37 times and Rich Hill would often spend Patriots’ Day with his family cheering on his father at the finish line.

So it was extra special for Hill to be making the 11 a.m. start for the Sox as the runners were winding their way east from Hopkinton. Even with the Sox losing 8-3.


Last year the marathon was run in October and was long over before the Sox took the field for Game 4 of the American League Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays. That was the final game of the series as Kiké Hernández hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth to give Boston a walk-off win.

Six months later the marathon was back on the streets. Another step back toward normalcy.

Not everything felt like the old days. Our grandparents would probably have a tough time recognizing the yellow-and-blue City Connect Red Sox uniforms. They would marvel at touchless, cashless concessions and at the amenities we now take for granted at sporting events.

But they would recognize the passion. It was on full display this holiday weekend. Boston felt like the City of Champions again. And there’s nothing more normal than that.

Tom Caron is a studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on NESN.

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