Security lines were longer and there was definitely a stronger police presence Friday night at TD Garden for Game 3 of the Celtics-Knicks series. It was the Celtics’ first home game in more than two weeks and the first since the Marathon bombings on April 15.
The Celtics contacted season-ticket holders ahead of time, urging them to arrive early because the security lines would be longer. A number of seats were empty at tipoff.
Fans were also given white T-shirts with “Boston Strong” emblazoned on the front, and a moment of silence was held before the game — though it wasn’t so silent because several fans chose to scream out names of Celtics players.
After that, an honor guard with members of the Boston police, fire, and emergency medical services brought out the American flag, and the a cappella group Voices of Freedom, wearing military uniforms, sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Midway through the first quarter, the Celtics played a tribute video with images from the city.
At the end of the first quarter, the Celtics recognized several first responders and notable officials, including Governor Deval Patrick, Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis, and Watertown Police Chief Edward Deveau. The crowd responded with a roaring standing ovation that lasted several minutes.
“They’ve been through a lot. And I think they can’t get enough support, they can’t get enough love,” coach Doc Rivers said before the game. “You don’t get a chance a lot of times to say thank you to firemen and policemen.”
Rivers noted that his father, Grady, was a police officer, so he has long made it a point to thank members of the law enforcement community for their efforts.
“I make a point every day, even before this,” he said. “I had a dad who was a cop, so I know how it is. No one wants you around or likes you, until they need you. So I’ve always done that.”
Rivers owns up
Rivers didn’t back down from his criticism of the officials after the Celtics’ Game 2 loss in New York, even after being fined $25,000 by the NBA for said criticism two days later.
First, Rivers said he wasn’t surprised for being fined after saying that the officiating in that game was “horrendous.”
“Usually, the way it works, when NBA security calls, they’re not calling to tell you that they love you,” he said.
“Like I said to them, I didn’t get fined for being wrong. I got fined for saying it.”
Bradley’s gut reaction
Avery Bradley was late to Thursday’s practice because he wasn’t feeling well, the guard said before the game.
“Just a stomachache, but I’m fine now,” he said.
Rivers said Bradley didn’t practice much because he didn’t want to take the chance of getting any other players sick.
“He wasn’t feeling well, so we gave him a Tums, and we told him to sit there,” Rivers said. “Honestly. I’ve had this for three years now. When guys are feeling flu-ish or anything, I don’t want them near any other guy. I just think that’ s pretty sound advice.”
Bradley started Friday and played nearly 33 minutes, but was only able to contribute 2 points and one rebound to the scoresheet.
It was crystal clear after the first two games that Bradley was in over his head at point guard, a position he was asked to play when All-Star Rajon Rondo went down with a season-ending knee injury.
Rivers admitted as much, though he didn’t call Bradley out by name, instead telling reporters that they could figure out whom he was speaking about.
“We’re asking other guys right now to do way too much,” Rivers said. “We don’t have a lot of choices in the matter.’’
Rivers started Jason Terry in place of Brandon Bass, and Terry shared some of the ball-handling duties with Bradley early in the game. Terry finished with 14 points and two assists.Baxter Holmes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BaxterHolmes.