Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
But now the Celtics aren’t only a 7-seed with proud, graying stars hoping that muscle memory carries them into May and beyond. Monday, bloody Monday changed everything for every Boston institution. Just as the nation embraced baseball’s most decorated franchise, the Yankees, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, fans everywhere will be pulling for basketball’s decorated franchise to make the kind of charmed postseason run the Yanks made in 2001.
So the 54-28 Knicks no longer have to beat a 41-40 team. In the wake of the terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon, they have to beat America’s Team, too.
Hating the Celtics and their banners and their parquet used to come naturally; they’d taken five consecutive titles in an Atlantic Division the Knicks hadn’t won — until this season — since 1993-94. An incorrigible trash talker, Garnett was one of the least likable stars in the league long before his foul mouth compelled Carmelo Anthony to chase him all the way out to the team bus.
Summoning that same emotion for the opposing team and star might take some extra work this time around. Wearing black stripes on their left shoulders in memory of the dead and injured, the Celtics represent a great city that is hurting badly, and one that could sure use a spiritual boost from an underdog sports team expected to go one-and-done.
Over the past 5+ years, the Celtics haven’t been the most liked team in the NBA. Add the swagger of Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce, the constant barking of Kevin Garnett and Danny Ainge’s notorious sh*t eating grin, and you have a team everyone loves to hate.
Not any more.
In times of crisis and tragedy, sports teams become extensions of a city. Something tangible that people can channel emotions towards.
Prior to Monday’s attack, I didn’t think the Celtics would win this series. I liked the Knicks in 7. But now, I’m thinking the emotional tidal wide will give the Celtics the necessary boost to pull off the win.
It all starts Saturday. Here’s the schedule:
Game 1: Saturday, April 20 – Celtics at Knicks – 3 p.m. (ABC)
Game 2: Tuesday, April 23 – Celtics at Knicks – 8 p.m. (TNT)
Game 3: Friday, April 26 – Knicks at Celtics – 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 4: Sunday, April 28 – Knicks at Celtics – 1 p.m. (ABC)
Game 5*: Wednesday, May 1 – Celtics at Knicks – TBD
Game 6*: Friday, May 3 – Knicks at Celtics – TBD
Game 7*: Sunday, May 5 – Celtics at Knicks – TBD
The Knicks are banged up. Tyson Chandler missed 16 of the Knicks final 20 games due to a neck injury. I’ll venture a guess and say his situation is a bit more serious than KG’s bum ankle. The status of starting guard Pablo Prigioni is in doubt after he suffered a severe ankle sprain Wednesday night.
The rest of the links:
ESPN Boston – Bring on the playoffs | Rapid Reaction – Raptors 114 – Celtics 90 | Unity in Toronto | Globe – Raptors roll past Celtics in finale | CSNNE – Green blessed to play | Raptors rip C’s in finale | Herald – Celtics looking forward | Green team ready to represent | WEEI – Friends of Ray Allen hurt at Marathon |