Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
“We like how we match up with the Knicks,” captainPaul Pierce said. “We like how we match up with Miami. We like how we match up with pretty much anybody in the East.”
If the playoffs started today, the second-seeded Knicks would host seventh-seeded Boston in a first-round matchup. New York unleashed a 3-point barrage Sunday night at Madison Square Garden en route to a breezy 108-89 triumph, this after a 15-point triumph on Boston’s home turf on Tuesday.
[...] But asked if the Knicks were a potential bad matchup, Celtics coach Doc Rivers bristled at the suggestion.
“If Kevin [Garnett] doesn’t play,” Rivers said. “Other than that, no, we’ll play anybody, anytime — when we’re right.”
The last two games aside, I agree with the C’s… if the 7th seeded Celtics had to pick between the Pacers and the Knicks, I’d take the Knicks in the first round. And that, of course, is provided the Celtics are healthy.
Lee is getting there, and he’s an extremely important part of this equation. With Lee and Bradley out there, the C’s have a much better defensive back court that can contest some of these Knicks 3’s. The Knicks are the league leaders (tied with Houston) taking 28.7 3 pointers a game. So we know they’ll chuck it. And when they get hot, you can almost forget about winning.
But no team stays hot from the perimeter forever… which is just another way of saying “live by the 3, die by the 3.” And when more than a third of your field goal attempts come from beyond the arc, the Knicks are most certainly capable of dying by the 3.
Of course, there’s the little matter of Kevin Garnett being healthy too, which will not only further improve the defense by adding one of the most intuitive defenders the league has ever seen to the mix, it will also add a safety valve for the offense. Let’s face it, the C’s offense isn’t exactly a juggernaut. The Cavs, Raptors and Kings all score more points than the Celtics. The Celtics, though, rely on hitting the shots they take (they’re still 9th in the league in FG%) and shutting the other team down to win… and who do you want on the floor besides KG to make those two things happen?
The 7th seed is not a fun spot. Teams don’t win championships coming out of the 7th gate. And while it’s highly unlikely the Celtics buck those odds, the only chance they have to even make it possible is if everyone on the team that is capable of coming back this season, does, and at as close to 100% as possible.
That means Paul Pierce will probably miss tonight’s game. That means KG might miss another couple. And it means the C’s will very likely stay right where they are in the 7th spot. With the Knicks and Pacers essentially tied for the 2nd spot (New York is percentage points ahead right now), we now have a little bit of a dilemma on our hands.
If we truly like the Knicks matchup in the first round… then we’ve got to root for the Knicks over their next 10 games to see it happen.
Related links: Herald: Sneak peek looks scary | Globe: Pierce may miss game with Timberwolves | CSNNE: C’s looking to gain health, keep confidence for playoffs | Bucher: C’s with playoff edge vs. Knicks
The rest of the links
ESPN Boston: Not giving in | Lee: “I kind of forgot” about the ankle | Herald: MSG Maintains magical effect | Pierce frustrated with effort | Celtics shot down by Knicks | Globe: Knicks pound Celtics for 2nd time in 5 days | CSNNE: Randolph finding floor time in ‘smaller’ NBA | WEEI: Knicks overcome Green and Pierce