Friday, March 23, 2018

Celtics aim to bring some relief to city

Playoffs (conference quarterfinals)

Eastern Conference

Heat vs. Bucks

Sunday: at Miami, 7, TNT

Tuesday: at Miami, 7:30, NBA

Thurs.: at Milwaukee, 7, TNT

April 28: at Milwaukee, 3:30, Ch. 28

April 30: at Miami, TBD *

May 2: at Milwaukee, TBD*

May 4: at Miami, TBD, TNT*

Knicks vs. Celtics

Today: at New York, 3, Ch. 28

Tuesday: at New York, 8, TNT

Friday: at Boston, 8, ESPN

April 28: at Boston, 1, Ch. 28

May 1: at New York, TBD*

May 3: at Boston, TBD*

May 5: at New York, TBD*

Pacers vs. Hawks

Sunday: at Indiana, 1, TNT

Wed.: at Indiana, 7:30, NBA

April 27: at Atlanta, 7, ESPN

April 29: at Atlanta, TBD

May 1: at Indiana, TBD*

May 3: at Atlanta, TBD*

May 5: at Indiana, TBD*

Nets vs. Bulls

Today: at Brooklyn, 8, ESPN

Monday: at Brooklyn, 8, TNT

Thursday: at Chicago, 8:30, NBA

April 27: at Chicago, 2, TNT

April 29: at Brooklyn, TBD*

May 2: at Chicago, TBD*

May 4: at Brooklyn, TBD, TNT*

* If necessary

Western Conference

Thunder vs. Rockets

Sunday: at Okla. City, 9:30, TNT

Wed.: at Okla. City, 7, TNT

April 27: at Houston, 9:30, ESPN

April 29: at Houston, TBD

May 1: at Okla. City, TBD*

May 3: at Houston, TBD*

May 5: at Okla. City, TBD*

Spurs vs. Lakers

Sunday: at San Antonio, 3:30, Ch. 28

Wed.: at San Antonio, 9:30, TNT

Friday: at L.A., 10:30, ESPN

April 28: at L.A., 7, TNT

April 30: at San Antonio, TBD*

May 2: at L.A., TBD*

May 4: at San Antonio, TBD, TNT*

Nuggets vs. Warriors

Today: at Denver, 5:30, ESPN

Tues.: at Denver, 10:30, TNT

Friday: at Golden St., 10:30, ESPN2

April 28: at Golden St., 9:30, TNT

April 30: at Denver, TBD*

May 2: at Golden St., TBD*

May 4: at Denver, TBD, TNT*

Clippers vs. Grizzlies

Today: at L.A., 10:30, ESPN

Monday: at L.A., 10:30, TNT

Thursday: at Memphis, 9:30, TNT

April 27: at Memphis, 4:30, TNT

April 30: at L.A., TBD*

May 3: at Memphis, TBD*

May 5: at L.A., TBD*

NEW YORK — Doc Rivers' phone rang around 6 a.m. Friday, a concerned Celtics owner calling to check on his coach and team.

The Celtics were already safely in New York, but forgive Steve Pagliuca for forgetting. This is a sad, confusing and chaotic time in Boston, and nobody is thinking about basketball first.

But the Celtics have a game today, the opener of their playoff series against the Knicks. And if they can provide a boost to their city, that gives them even more motivation as an underdog.

"I think when you go through tragedy as a city you kind of look for something to cling on, and really I believe that the city of Boston lives and dies with our sports teams, and they're going to be watching closely," longtime Celtics star Paul Pierce said. "And you know there's just a sense of pride about the city and a sense of pride about this team to go out there and kind of play well and to do the best we can for the city in the wake of the tragedy."

The Celtics' final regular-season home game was to be Tuesday night, but that was canceled after three people were killed in the Boston Marathon bombings. They played at Toronto on Wednesday and went to New York, watching reports Friday that showed their city virtually shut down as authorities hunted for the suspects.

Many people might switch away from the news coverage today looking for a diversion.

"Some people, just the joy of the sport and, you know, the victory and that, will help people," Rivers said. "It'll help people heal."

New York is the No. 2 seed after ending Boston's five-year reign as division champion and won three of the four meetings during the season. Rivers downplayed those results, but the Knicks clearly have gained confidence as they try to win a postseason series for the first time since 2000.

"It's not going to be an easy series, we know that, but at the same time it's a series that we're going to win," point guard Raymond Felton said.

With NBA scoring champion Carmelo Anthony and top sixth-man candidate J.R. Smith, the Knicks have been able to crack Boston's defense. But a couple of those Knicks victories came when Kevin Garnett rested, so they expect to see a better Boston team.

Bulls: Center Joakim Noah (injured right foot) did little in practice and is not certain if he will play today in the opener against the Nets. Coach Tom Thibodeau called Noah's status day to day.

Clippers: Blake Griffin says the back spasms that affected him earlier this week were treated and he is ready for tonight against the Grizzlies.

Lakers: Playmaker Steve Nash (right hamstring) practiced and said he is optimistic about playing in Sunday's opener against the Spurs.

Bucks-Heat: Earlier this week, Bucks guard Brandon Jennings said, "I see us winning the series in six." The response from the Heat was summed up by Shane Battier: "When Joe Namath predicted the Super Bowl win, that took the cake. Everyone else should just give up."

Cavaliers search: The team intends to speak with former coach Mike Brown about returning. Brown was fired by Cleveland three years ago and replaced by Byron Scott, who was let go Thursday after going 64-166.

Ratings: ABC and ESPN had their most viewers ever for NBA coverage, helped by the interest in the Heat's 27-game win streak. Overall, ABC averaged 4.7 million viewers for its 15 broadcasts and ESPN averaged 1.8 million viewers for 77 telecasts. The two games added during the streak, both earned a 2.9 rating, tying for the fourth highest-rated, regular-season games ever on ESPN.

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