NEW YORK -- Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he's uncertain how Friday's events (including the apprehension of the second suspect in Monday's marathon bombings) will affect his team emotionally during Saturday's Game 1 of an Eastern Conference first-round series against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
Rivers knows his team was distracted on Friday, but is hoping the good news from back home might give his team some sort of emotional jolt at the start of this series.
"[Friday] was a strange day," said Rivers. "You’re going to practice and you hear guys on the phone and literally everyone is calling home, yelling or you could hear them saying, ‘Stay in the house!’ And we’re going to practice and I even told our staff, we’re going to make a lot of mistakes in practice today. There’s no way their focus is where it should be. And you felt that going into practice. And, honestly, we were right, practice played out that way.
"So I don’t know. Thank gosh it’s over, in that regards. It was good to see everybody in the city happy, hugging and rejoicing. And I’m sure our players had a chance to exhale, because their families are still back there. [Injured point guard Rajon] Rondo was supposed to join us yesterday, and he couldn’t even get out. He was locked in and had to stay in himself. What does that do for us today, I have no idea? I think, emotionally, it could go either way. Hopefully we can figure out a way, if it’s not going the right way, to gather them right and get it back. Thank gosh it’s a four-quarter game because I’m always worried about any team, even if it wasn’t for this, being too emotionally high at the beginning of a game. Because you still have to finish the game. We’ll see."
Inside the Boston locker room, where Celtics plays were sporting special marathon patches and wearing yellow Boston Stands As One warm-up shirts, players like Avery Bradley expressed relief that a violent and frightening 24-hour manhunt was over.
"It feels good. I'm just happy there weren't a lot more people injured," said Bradley. "That was the biggest thing for me, I didn't want anybody else to get hurt. But it is a good feeling knowing that everything is done now, that people are safe, and people can feel like they can go outside now."
Added Bradley: "It was real tough [to focus on basketball], especially seeing as I live in Waltham, which is the next town over. It was hard, but all I could do was pray that everything would be OK."
A couple other pregame notes:
* Rajon Rondo is with the team for the start of the playoffs. Rivers is happy to have him along, noting, "I want him around. He’s a good mind. He’s a great, great mind. And he knows the game. He’s a smart kid. People have no idea his IQ, they really don’t. It’s funny right now, even after our shootaround, he’s into it." Rondo had previously planned to join the team on Friday, but couldn't get out until the manhunt ended around Boston.