By JOSH NEWMAN
Special to ZAGSBLOG
NEW YORK – Down 2-0 in their best-of-seven first-round series following an 87-71 loss to the Knicks on Tuesday evening, it’s not like the Boston Celtics and their fans need any further reason to get psyched up as the series heads to TD Bank Garden for Games 3 and 4 on Friday and Sunday, respectively.
However, these are rare, unsettled times in Boston thanks to the bombing at the Boston Marathon on April 15 that killed three people and wounded nearly 200. In the wake of the bombing, the Celtics final home game against the Indiana Pacers was canceled, meaning that they haven’t played at home since the bombing. That alone should make for an emotionally-charged atmosphere on Friday evening.
“We’re fine, we take it one day at a time,” Carmelo Anthony said. “We’ll deal with Friday’s game when that day comes. We gotta prepare for that, we gotta prepare for the emotions that will be taking place in Boston on Friday. But as a team, we gotta go in there being together, staying together, knowing that it’s going to be a game of runs, knowing that it’s going to be very emotional in that building.”
Even without the emotion of a tragedy that made worldwide headlines serving as the backdrop for a playoff game, TD Bank Garden, and the Boston Garden before it, has been known to become deafening come playoff time. The emotion is only likely to fuel the fire for a fan base that isn’t used to seeing its team get rolled over on, but that is exactly what has happened in the first two games.
In the second half on Saturday, the Knicks held the Celtics to just eight fourth-quarter points and 25 in the second half. It was more of the same on Tuesday as the Knicks held them to just 23 points after halftime.
After a 3-for-11 start to the game, Anthony carried the load, going 8-for-13 the rest of the way to finish with a game-high 34 points. The NBA Most Valuable Player candidate now has 70 points combined in the two games.
“Playing in Boston for the Knicks is obviously going to be a hostile atmosphere,” newly-minted Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith said after he scored 19 points on 7-for-15 shooting. “I just hope it gives the fans a chance to get their minds off things for 2-3 hours and it’ll be a great game I’m sure. They’ll come out there and give us all they got and I’m sure they feel their back is up against the wall.”
As a point of reference, the Boston Bruins first home game two days after the bombing featured Rene Rancourt’s National Anthem getting taken over by a sellout crowd, which sang the final three-quarters of it in unison.
While Celtics head coach Doc Rivers knows the atmosphere and the emotion Friday night is something he can’t avoid, it’s not something he intends on exploiting, either.
“We wanna win for the city, but that’s not anything I’m going to use in the press conference or for the players.”