NEW YORK — Two teams, two cities, two games, two completely different outcomes.
The Red Sox had the emotion and the recovery and Boston Strong and Neil Diamond.
The Celtics had an angry and boisterous New York crowd, ready to pounce on the Green Team.
Fenway had Neil, paying his way to fly to Boston and singing “Sweet Caroline” before the bottom half of the eighth.
Madison Square Garden had fans booing hometown quarterback Mark Sanchez when his image was flashed on the big board.
Fenway had David Ortiz dropping an expletive in his pregame speech — and getting away with it. That’s how much Boston loves Big Papi.
Madison Square Garden had the Celtics playing like (expletive) in an ugly 85-78 loss to the Knicks in Game 1 of their playoff series.
Fenway had lovable minor league lifer Daniel Nava hitting the winning three-run home run minutes after the emotional lift of “So good, so good, so good.’’
Madison Square Garden had the Celtics scoring 25 points in the second half — just 2 more than the NBA record for fewest in a half of playoff basketball.
Fenway had the Red Sox wearing old-timey uniforms with “Boston” on the front.
Madison Square Garden had Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce playing like they were 147 years old.
Suddenly, the Red Sox — the team everybody seemed to hate during the awful winter of 2012-2013 — are the darlings of Boston.
The Celtics — the gritty team we all loved last spring — look ready to be sent home for the summer.
Trust me when I tell you that you didn’t want to be anywhere near Madison Square Garden Saturday. Fenway was uplifting for every Bostonian. MSG was a Boston buzzkill.
Before the game, the Celtics did their part to acknowledge and honor everything that’s happened back home since Marathon Monday. They wore yellow “Boston Stands As One” warm-up shirts and captain Pierce was assigned the task of addressing the MSG crowd.
But this was not a “Boston Strong” gathering. Knicks enthusiasts booed Pierce when he was introduced.
After the Bronx Cheers subsided, Pierce gracefully said, “Thanks for your support.’’
“I don’t think that was the right thing to do, boo somebody like that,’’ said Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony (36 points on 29 shots). “At the end of the day, we all know what happened in Boston. Our prayers and things like that go out to families in the city of Boston. In the situation like today, it’s all about the US. It’s our country. It’s sad that we’ve got to go through, unfortunately, tragedies like that. Whoever booed him shouldn’t have booed him. Not in a situation like that.’’
“I played here, so I know the mind-set of a New Yorker,’’ said ever-realistic and optimistic Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “Hearing, ‘Good luck, Doc! We love Boston’ . . . I know they mean the city. They ain’t meaning the Celtics. I get that 100 percent.’’
The Celtics haven’t played in Boston since five days before the Marathon attacks. They flew out of town Tuesday night, which means they missed the President’s visit and Friday’s traumatic, and ultimately triumphant, day in the Hub of the Universe. The Celtics have seen dramatic events unfold on television, but they have not lived it the way the Bruins and Red Sox lived it. They haven’t lived it the way you lived it. But they know how their city feels about its teams.
“Boston is a better city because of sports,’’ said Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck. “When all the teams started doing well in this decade, Boston became a more confident place. And I think it absolutely is connected to how the teams did.’’
The Bruins had their moment Wednesday night when love was showered from the upper deck of the New Garden after Rene Rancourt started the anthem.
The Red Sox had their moment Saturday when the nation watched the moving pregame ceremony and nine innings that played out as if scripted by maestro Charles Steinberg (nobody does pomp like Dr. Charles and never has there been a day like Saturday at Fenway).
There was little of that in New York. This was a chance for the Knicks to win a playoff game at home. Before Saturday, the Knicks had won only one playoff game since 2001. No wonder fans were anxious and ornery.
The Celtics were generous guests. Boston played well in the first half and led, 70-63, with a minute left in the third quarter, then dissolved. Jeff Green had 24 points after three, but only 2 points to go with four turnovers in the fourth. The Celtics had eight turnovers and three field goals in the final quarter.
The series resumes Tuesday night here on 33rd and Seventh. Friday night, the Celtics and Knicks come to Boston.
Wonder if Neil Diamond is available?