Last updated: April 20. 2013 12:13AM - 1606 Views

AP FILE PHOTOCoach Doc Rivers will lead the Boston Celtics against the New York Knicks in a best-of-seven playoff series starting tonight.
AP FILE PHOTOCoach Doc Rivers will lead the Boston Celtics against the New York Knicks in a best-of-seven playoff series starting tonight.
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Milwaukee vs. Miami

Sunday, April 21: Milwaukee at Miami, 7 p.m.

Tuesday, April 23: Milwaukee at Miami, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, April 25: Miami at Milwaukee, 7 p.m.

Sunday, April 28: Miami at Milwaukee, 3:30 p.m.

x-Tuesday, April 30: Milwaukee at Miami, TBA

x-Thursday, May 2: Miami at Milwaukee, TBA

x-Saturday, May 4: Milwaukee at Miami, TBA

Boston vs. New York

Saturday, April 20: Boston at New York, 3 p.m.

Tuesday, April 23: Boston at New York, 8 p.m.

Friday, April 26: New York at Boston, 8 p.m.

Sunday, April 28: New York at Boston, 1 p.m.

x-Wednesday, May 1: Boston at New York, TBA

x-Friday, May 3: New York at Boston, TBA

x-Sunday, May 5: Boston at New York, TBA

Atlanta vs. Indiana

Sunday, April 21: Atlanta at Indiana, 1 p.m.

Wednesday, April 24: Atlanta at Indiana, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 27: Indiana at Atlanta, 7 p.m.

Monday, April 29: Indiana at Atlanta, TBA

x-Wednesday, May 1: Atlanta at Indiana, TBA

x-Friday, May 3: Indiana at Atlanta, TBA

x-Sunday, May 5: Atlanta at Indiana, TBA

Chicago vs. Brooklyn

Saturday, April 20: Chicago at Brooklyn, 8 p.m.

Monday, April 22: Chicago at Brooklyn, 8 p.m.

Thursday, April 25: Brooklyn at Chicago, 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 27: Brooklyn at Chicago, 2 p.m.

x-Monday, April 29: Chicago at Brooklyn, TBA

x-Thursday, May 2: Brooklyn at Chicago, TBA

x-Saturday, May 4: Chicago at Brooklyn, TBA


Oklahoma City vs. Houston

Sunday, April 21: Houston at Oklahoma City, 9:30 p.m.

Wednesday, April 24: Houston at Oklahoma City, 7 p.m.

Saturday, April 27: Oklahoma City at Houston, 9:30 p.m.

Monday, April 29: Okla. City at Houston, TBA

x-Wednesday, May 1: Houston at Oklahoma City, TBA

x-Friday, May 3: Oklahoma City at Houston, TBA

x-Sunday, May 5: Houston at Oklahoma City, TBA

San Antonio vs. L.A. Lakers

Sunday, April 21: L.A. Lakers at San Antonio, 3:30 p.m.

Wednesday, April 24: L.A. Lakers at San Antonio, 9:30 p.m.

Friday, April 26: San Antonio at L.A. Lakers, 10:30 p.m.

Sunday, April 28: San Antonio at L.A. Lakers, 7 p.m.

x-Tuesday, April 30: L.A. Lakers at San Antonio, TBA

x-Thursday, May 2: San Antonio at L.A. Lakers, TBA

x-Saturday, May 4: L.A. Lakers at San Antonio, TBA

Denver vs. Golden State

Saturday, April 20: Goldsen State at Denver, 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday, April 23: Golden State at Denver, 10:30 p.m.

Friday, April 26: Denver at Golden State, 10:30 p.m.

Sunday, April 28: Denver at Golden State, 9:30 p.m.

x-Tuesday, April 30: Golden State at Denver, TBA

x-Thursday, May 2: Denver at Golden State, TBA

x-Saturday, May 4: Golden State at Denver, TBA

L.A. Clippers vs. Memphis

Saturday, April 20: Memphis at L.A. Clippers, 10:30 p.m.

Monday, April 22: Memphis at L.A. Clippers, 10:30 p.m.

Thursday, April 25: L.A. Clippers at Memphis, 9:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 27: L.A. Clippers at Memphis, 4:30 p.m.

x-Tuesday, April 30: Memphis at L.A. Clippers, TBA

x-Friday, May 3: L.A. Clippers at Memphis, TBA

x-Sunday, May 5: Memphis at L.A. Clippers, TBA

NEW YORK — Doc Rivers’ phone rang sometime around 6 a.m. Friday, a concerned Boston 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 to play today, the opener of their playoff series against the Knicks, and if they can provide a boost to their struggling city with some postseason success, that gives them even more motivation in their rare role 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 home game of the regular season 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 night and then came to New York, watching news reports Friday morning that showed their city being virtually shut down while authorities hunted for one of the suspects.

Many people might switch away from the news coverage Saturday looking for a diversion, and the Celtics know their performance might make a difference to some of them.

“I know it doesn’t hurt. I don’t know it if helps or not,” Rivers said. “Listen, for some people a basketball game’s not going to matter. Some people, just the joy of the sport and, you know, the victory and that, will help people. It’ll help people heal.”

The Knicks know all about playing for a hurting city. They opened their season days after SuperStorm Sandy devastated the New York area, and their emotionally charged 104-84 rout of Miami at Madison Square Garden jump-started them on the way to their first Atlantic Division title since 1993-94.

“I don’t even know how to put it into words, but you just wish those families nothing but the best,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “But you know Boston has always been a sports town, so they’ll rally around it and try to figure it out as they move up the road.”

The Celtics swept the Knicks in a first-round series two years ago.

This time, New York is the No. 2 seed after ending Boston’s five-year reign as division champion and won three of the four meetings in the regular season.

Rivers downplayed the regular-season results, noting the Celtics dominated Atlanta during the 2007-08 season, only to be forced to seven games in the first round. 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. “We’ve got home-court advantage, so we’ve got to take advantage of it.”

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

But even if forced to play without starting guard Pablo Prigioni, who sprained his ankle in the regular-season finale, the Knicks believe they’re stronger than their teams Boston had been beating up on for years, especially knowing they get to start at Madison Square Garden.

“That was our goal to lock down home court and we did that, and now we have the opportunity to do something special, protect our home court,” Anthony said. “It won’t be easy, but we’re up for that challenge. We’re willing to take that challenge and it starts (today).”

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