It's easy to wilt under the pressure of high expectations.
Unless you're the New England Patriots.
The Boston Celtics and the University of Maine hockey team came into their respective seasons with the expectation of success.
After coming one game short of the NBA Finals last spring, and with a healthy Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, the Celts were expected to run all over the Eastern Conference, and challenge the Golden State Warriors.
At the All-Star break, the Celtics are a disappointing 37-21, fourth in the East and six games back of Milwaukee.
As for the Black Bears, they are in 7th place place in Hockey East, just ahead the league's final playoff spot.
Now I have to ask, which team is the bigger disappointment?
The case for UMaine: The Black Bears were expected to finish in the top half of Hockey East this season. It's still mathematically possible, as Maine sits just 3 points out of the number four spot in the league.
It's been an up-and-down year for Red Gendron's club, with much of the fan base clamoring for Gendron's removal after this season. Case in point? Having to come from behind to tie a powerhouse 7-20-1 Merrimack club on Friday.
Maine has four games left, including a two-game set against Boston College, which the Bears thumped in Chesnut Hill earlier this season. We could still see a playoff series at the Alfond.
The case for the Celtics: There's a lot of season left. There's reason to believe the Celts could be one of the top two seeds in the East. There's reason to believe the Raptors will choke in the playoffs as usual.
This team lacks consistency. They play like world-beaters against the likes of Philadelphia and Milwaukee, but let large leads slip away at home against the dismal L.A. Lakers and Clippers. And fans subsequently yearn for a "back to the basket post player" that Boston doesn't even need.
This is Boston. We expect championships. Parades. Banners. I know the "In Danny We Trust" crowd will tell us to just stay patient, but in this century, a 10-year drought may as well feel like 20 or 30 around here.
My patience is wearing thing with Ainge honestly.
It's a close toss-up, and there's a lot of basketball left, but thus far it's the Celtics. I didn't expect Milwaukee to be leading the East at the break. Hopefully, the Celtics will prove everyone wrong and will be playing the Warriors in June.