- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Chris Forsberg/ESPN Boston
The Celtics huddled before their practice Friday at Columbia University.NEW YORK -- Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers awoke Friday morning in New York to panicked calls from team managing partner Steve Pagliuca, who wanted to make sure Rivers and his players were OK. Rivers groggily reminded Pagliuca that the team was in New York, but soon became aware of the overnight violence and the massive manhunt for a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings.
"It woke me up, then you turn the TV on and then you don't go back to sleep, you can't turn it back off," said Rivers. "So it's really sad stuff. It's crazy, it's sad. You just want it to come to an end."
Like most back home, Celtics players spent the morning glued to news reports of what was happening around Boston. Those with families in the area called home to ensure their safety. Then Rivers tried to collect their focus for the final off day workout before Boston and New York open a first-round playoff series on Saturday with Game 1 at Madison Square Garden.
"This is what everyone's going through, not just basketball players," said Rivers. "It's everybody. It's everybody at work, whatever you do. But then you have to do your job, too. Honestly, for us, getting on the floor is good medicine. It gets you focused on your job."
After closing out their regular season on Wednesday night in Toronto, the Celtics elected to travel to New York and practice here on Friday. But Boston remains at the forefront of their minds.
"Our sympathies and condolences go out to all of the families that were affected by this disaster in Boston," Jason Terry said. "And the Boston people who are constricted to their homes right now while they try to find these people that have done this terrible thing. We're thinking about it, but, again, fortunately we got out of there in time, so we're not too distracted. But they are in our thoughts."
"Well, you can't help but to see it," echoed Paul Pierce. "You wake up, turn on the Internet, it's cause for concern, especially with us having families in the areas that these situations are happening in. I got phone calls from home, the whole city's locked down, especially in the area where I live at, so it's definitely a concern. You worry. But, we're here, there's nothing we can really do about it. Hopefully everything takes care of itself back home with the law enforcement doing what they have to do to secure the situation."
Added Kevin Garnett: "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 thing is everybody's worried, also. I hope everybody back home, especially in the whole New England area, is OK, and safe."
The Celtics don't return home until after Tuesday's Game 2 in New York. Boston won't play its next home game until next Friday night. But Rivers knows his team could play a big role in helping the region cope and get back to some normalcy.
"Listen, to some people, basketball games aren't going to matter," said Rivers. "Some people, just the joy of the sport and the victory -- it'll help people. It'll help people heal. I just think the public gathering helps, more than anything, because that's what's been affected in a lot of ways."
14dKevin Pelton and Chad Ford