Celtics open playoffs with emotional ceremony, then struggle against Knicks
Saturday’s Celtics game was anything but normal. First, the game marked the opening of the playoffs as the Celtics take on the New York Knicks in first round. Second, the game marked the first time the Celtics would play since the successful capture of the surviving suspect of the Boston Marathon bombings.
Celtics players have not been able to go home since the day after the bombing, as they flew to Toronto for a game on Wednesday and then to New York for the beginning of the playoffs. Players have not been able to console their families in person, and they were wearing their emotion on their sleeves in practice and during the pregame.
“Yesterday was a strange day,” said coach Doc Rivers early Saturday afternoon. “Thank gosh [the manhunt and lockdown is] over. I’m sure our players can exhale.”
Rivers said the team was sloppy and unfocused during practice, which he also said was understandable.
Rajon Rondo was supposed to fly in to be with the team Friday, but unfortunately he was on lockdown with the rest of Boston. He instead flew in early Saturday.
The Celtics wore a special “Boston Stands as One” patch on their jerseys Saturday night. The Boston Fire Department Color Guard and representatives of the FDNY presented the colors together before Saturday’s game.
In addition, Carmelo Anthony and Paul Pierce both stood before the crowd to give brief speeches about the events in Boston prior to Saturday’s game.
“We, as New Yorkers, understand what you guys are going through, so once again we want to send our prayers out and our condolences to the city of Boston and the people of Boston as well,” Anthony said.
“The Boston Celtics, the city of Boston, would like to thank you for your support and all the support from people around the country throughout this tragic event,” Pierce said. “Boston will rise and run again.”
After the emotional pregame ceremony, it became business as usual as the Celtics and Knicks tipped off.
The Celtics held a 53-49 lead after the first half, but the Knicks turned up the heat in the second half to blaze their way to an 85-78 win in Game 1.
Trailing 70-63 late in the third, the Knicks went on a 9-0 run that seemed to energize them for the fourth quarter, when they outscored the Celtics, 18-8. With 4:32 remaining in the game, a Pierce jump shot tightened the score to 79-76 Knicks, but missed shots and turnovers by Boston wasted precious time, and with 1:21 remaining, the Knicks all but cemented their win when Anthony sank a jump shot to put New York up, 83-76.
Anthony finished the game with 36 points.
Game 2 will be on Tuesday, April 23, at 8 p.m. in New York. Watch the game live on TNT or listen live on WEEI 93.7 FM.