C's focus on playoffs, but hearts are in Boston

C's focus on playoffs, but hearts are in Boston
April 19, 2013, 6:45 pm
Share This Post

NEW YORK — In a typical lead-up to the first game of a playoff series, much of the talk would center around matchups, star players and X-factors.

But the Boston Marathon bombings earlier this week changed all that, and the dragnet by local and federal law enforcement officials that followed has taken some of the sizzle out of this playoff series between the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks which begins Saturday at 3 p.m.

The Celtics are doing their best to keep their attention solely on the playoff series and not the shootings back home that ensued late Thursday night that spilled into the wee hours of Friday morning.

One of the two suspected Boston Marathon bombers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed while his brother, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was captured Friday night in Watertown, Mass.

Their shoot-out with local and federal police officers came shortly after the two reportedly killed a Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus officer, and wounded a MBTA cop.

The city of Boston as well as neighboring towns like Watertown - that's where 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed - have been locked down since early Friday morning.

Interstate rail services out of Boston have also been suspended, with the last train out of Boston's South Station having left at 5:10 a.m.

Passengers on that train were asked to evacuate at the Providence, RI station.

After police swept through the train for possible explosives, passengers were allowed to re-board after about 15 or 20 minutes.

The Acela train 2151 was stopped again, just a few miles short of the Stamford, Conn. train station.

As the train slowed down, both local and federal police officers, armed with assault rifles in hand, swarmed the hilly area around the tracks and surrounded the train while other police officers blocked off nearby streets.

In addition to securing the perimeter, some officers boarded the train, all with a weapon in hand, and went up and down the aisle along with a bomb-sniffing dog.

After nearly an hour, the officers left the scene and the train continued on to New York City's Penn Station where it arrived about two hours later than originally planned.

Getting to New York City was not an issue for the Celtics, who left for the Big Apple on Thursday from Toronto which is where they played their regular season finale.

While the C's weren't directly impacted by the events of Thursday night/Friday morning, that doesn't mean it wasn't on their minds.

C's coach Doc Rivers said he got a call shortly after 6 a.m. from Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca, who wanted to make sure Rivers was okay.

After Rivers informed him that the team was already in New York City, he said, "I turned the TV on and then you can't go back to sleep. "It's just really sad stuff. It's crazy, sad. You just want it to come to an end."

Events weighed on the minds of most Americans as well as Celtics players . . . even Kevin Garnett, who is one of the NBA's best ever at locking in on the task at hand while avoiding potential distractions.

"I've never met anyone like him," Celtics big man D.J. White told CSNNE.com about Garnett. "You see guys get serious. Well there's serious, and then there's Kevin Garnett serious before games. He takes it to a whole other level."

That may be true, but even Garnett acknowledges keeping his thoughts completely centered around preparation for Game 1 of the C's best-of-seven series against the Knicks has not been easy.

"The (bleep) is crazy," Garnett said. "Everybody is trying to at least focus in on, obviously our game, the playoffs. But the obvious, everybody's worried also."

Said Jason Terry: "We're still thinking about what's going on. But still not letting that be a distracting factor from what we came here to do."

And the Celtics' goal is no different than any team that's the lower seed in the playoffs - steal Game 1 and then put the pressure on the Knicks to have to win in Boston where only three teams in the East (Miami, New York and Indiana) won more home games than the C's this season.

Although the Knicks did win the regular season series against Boston 3-1, the Celtics' lone victory over New York was a 102-96 win on Jan. 7 and it came at Madison Square Garden.

The Celtics would like nothing more than to spend more time talking about their matchup than the Boston Marathon explosions back home.

And while Rivers doesn't deny that it does have the potential to be a distraction, he understands that this tragedy like most things in life, has to be put in its place.

"You have to put things in compartments; you always do," Rivers said. "This is what everyone is going through, not just basketball players. It's everybody at work, whatever you do. But then you have to do your job, too. For us getting on the floor is good medicine. It gets you focused on your job."