NEW YORK — The Celtics left the night before and arrived here safe and sound.
But, like many others, their focus Friday was, at least in part, on the events going on back in Boston, where the city was locked down as authorities search for one of the suspects in Monday’s deadly Boston Marathon bombings.
Coach Doc Rivers said team owner Stephen Pagliuca called him around 6 a.m. to make sure he was OK. Rivers then turned on the television and watched the news coverage.
“And then you don’t go back to sleep, you can’t turn it back off,” Rivers said Friday at Columbia University, where his team practiced a day before Game 1 of its first-round playoff series against the Knicks.
“So, it’s really sad stuff. It’s crazy, it’s sad. You just want it to come to an end.”
Said Kevin Garnett, “Yeah, man, the city’s crazy, man. I think everybody’s kind of trying to at least focus in a little bit on, obviously, our game and the playoffs, but the obvious is everybody’s worried, also. I hope everybody back home, especially in the whole New England area, is OK and safe.”
Garnett acknowledged that it’s difficult to focus on basketball at a time like this, but Rivers said having a game to play will help.
“Honestly, for us, getting on the floor is good medicine,” Rivers said. “It gets you focused on your job.”
Obviously, the Celtics are looking to win, but Jason Terry said there is extra motivation to win for a city that has gone through so much the past week.
“Well, it’s definitely pride for the city, which we carry every time we put the Boston uniform on,” he said, “but, at the same time, when we go out there, we will be thinking about it a little bit, and hopefully it’ll give us a little extra edge.”
But Rivers said, “I don’t think it’ll go either one way or the other. I think before the game … I was laughing yesterday. I played here, so I know the mind-set of a New Yorker, and hearing, ‘Good luck, Doc!’ ‘Hey, Doc, we love Boston!’ I mean, I almost ran into a cab last night. But I know what they mean, and they mean the city. They ain’t meaning the Celtics.
“I get that, 100 percent. Even a worker at the Four Seasons said, ‘I want you to know I’m a Boston fan.’ And then she turned around: ‘Today.’ And I was thinking, ‘That’s what this is all about.’ And that’s good. It’s good. I love the rivalry. I think it’s great.”