|Record: 56-26 (1st Atlantic, 3rd East)||Record: 42-40 (3rd Atlantic, 6th East)|
|Home: 33-8 Road: 23-18||Home: 23-18 Road: 19-22|
Game 1 – Sun April 17 New York at Boston, 7p.m. on TNT
Game 2 – Tue April 19 New York at Boston, 7 p.m. on TNT
Game 3 – Fri April 22 Boston at New York, TBD on ESPN
Game 4 – Sun April 24 Boston at New York, 3:30 p.m. ABC
Game 5 – Tue April 26 New York at Boston, TBD
Game 6 – Fri April 29 Boston at New York, TBD
Game 7 – Sun May 1 New York at Boston, TBD
|Buckets: Pierce (18.9 ppg)||Buckets: Carmelo Anthony (26.3 ppg)|
|Boards: KG (8.9 rpg)||Boards: Amare Stoudemire (8.2 rpg)|
|Dimes: Rondo (11.2 apg)||Dimes: Chauncey Billups (5.5 apg)|
|For the Stat Geeks:||For the Stat Geeks:|
|Offensive Rating: 106.2 (18th NBA)||Offensive Rating: 110.9 (7th NBA)|
|Defensive Rating: 100.3 (2nd NBA)||Defensive Rating: 110.1 (22nd NBA)|
|Pace: 90.4 (22nd NBA)||Pace: 95.6 (3rd NBA)|
The Celtics own the Knicks. They swept the season series (4-0) and have won 16-of-18. This "rivalry" resembles that of the hammer and nail.
Get it to:
John – Ray Allen
I so want to say Paul Pierce, but he's going to be busy with Carmelo Anthony so I'm not going to expect him to be top notch the whole series. Of course, it's not like Melo's a great defender or anything, so it's possible Paul will go off. But it's the Ray Allen/Landry Fields matchup that I'm looking to exploit. With Jermaine O'Neal on the floor, we've got a much better pick-setter than Nenad Krstic, so look for Ray to have a little bit of a cleaner look than usual. Add the playoff intensity I expect out of this team, and I think he'll have a chance to get going early.
Jay – Ray Allen
The obvious answers here are either Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett but they should both equal the combined offensive outputs as Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, respectively. But the C’s have struggled quite a bit lately getting Ray free for shots. They’ve been running the same sets, but just not executing as well. Landry Fields cannot stay with Ray but I’m willing to bet that Chauncey Billups will get that assignment, with Fields “Sagging” off Rondo. Either way, Ray needs to use both of these options to his advantage by either running Fields off screens for easy looks, or getting Billups in foul trouble.
Chuck: Rajon Rondo
What's the perfect remedy for an struggling offense? The New York Knicks defense. Make no mistake, the Knicks will sag off Rondo in the half-court. But the key is for Rondo to get rolling on the fast break where Chauncey Billups cannot keep up with Rondo. This is how you get Ray Allen on a roll – feed him on the break. RR also needs to penetrate and when Amare challenges, dish to his open teammates.
John: Chauncey Billups
Melo will get his. If Amar'e Stoudemire has a good game against KG, so be it. But if the Knicks get a THIRD good game out of Chauncey Billups, the Celtics will have to really fight for wins. This puts the pressure squarely on Rajon Rondo to be a pest and use his youth and speed advantage to drive Billups nuts. Stay home and don't take chances. That will lead to more mistakes than any gambling Rondo can do. If Rondo can do that… then the Celtics will be able to get out and run a little… which will get his offense going.
Jay: Chauncey Billups
Again, with Melo and Amare being the obvious choices, those two will get theirs at some point. Billups is the key here even at his advanced age. Rondo needs to pressure him a little bit, and stay out of foul trouble when trying to disrupt the pick-and-roll sets with Amare. If Billups can be contained, it will throw a huge monkey wrench into that offensive machine that is the Knicks.
Chuck: Chauncey Billups
It's unanimous. The Celtics cannot sleep on this guy, especially at the three point line. He will kill them.
The Wild Card:
John: The Celtics Bench
The Knicks bench is made of leftover scraps from the Melo trade. The Celtics bench, however re-tooled, is more talented and should be able to not just hold the fort, but extend a lead. The C's have simplified their playbook to help Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic, they have their second unit leader, Delonte West, ready to go, and Glen Davis is rested. If the bench can perform to its potential, the Celtics will do just fne.
Jay: Glen Davis
With the incessant uncertainty of Shaq, it’s not so much who starts at center, but who finishes. Since the Knicks have nobody on their roster as a viable big man, Big Baby will be getting the bulk of the important minutes here. If he is the good version of himself, then he could be a huge game changer for the C’s. But if he’s the frustrating version, then it will have the exact opposite effect on the C’s.
Chuck: The Officials
The Knicks were 6th in the league in free throw attempts. The Celtics are the more physical team. Will the referees allow the Celtics to play rough with Amare and Carmelo?
How we see it goin' down
John: Celtics in 5
The Celtics essentially took a week off to practice and get themselves right. They are ready to go. New York fans can look forward to a much brighter future than usual with the Knicks… but they shouldn't expect much in this series. I'm looking for the Celtics to impose their will in this series and put the Knicks away early so they can get another few days off before facing Miami.
Jay: Celtics in 5
Although the Celtics would have made the road to the finals a lot easier on themselves by getting the #2 seed and playing the Sixers, the Knicks should not be a huge problem for them. Sure their play of late has been discouraging at best, but their defense is still tops in the league (second only to Chicago) and the Knicks don’t play any. The Celtics are built for the playoffs and have been waiting for this to begin for quite some time. New York won’t be a cakewalk in terms of each game in of itself, but I don’t expect a long series. The Celtics should win both games 1 and 2 at home, then drop game 3 at MSG at the hands of a pumped up New York crowd loudly rooting their team to victory. Game 4 will probably be a close one, with the C’s edging it out, then returning home and sending New York home for the summer.
Chuck: Celtics in 5
The Celtics are the better, deeper team. Teams that don't play defense rarely win in the playoffs. Even if the Celtics slip up and bring a C effort, they're still capable of beating the Knicks.