This is just what Boston needs after capturing the Boston Bombers last night and finally ending at least some of the chaos that occurred earlier this week. Beginning at 3pm today, the Boston Celtics will be playing the New York Knicks in a first round match-up for the second time in three years. This time the Celtics are the under dog team, seated this year in the Eastern Conference as a 7th seed taking on a surprise Knicks team that earned the 2nd seed. This has all the makings of a classic, rival-filled, first round series for the ages.
New York Knicks
Saying the Knicks overachived is an understatement…They are the second oldest team in the league with the likes of Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby, Kenyon Martin, etc. and are 30th in assists per game and 26th in rebounds per game. While the offense may seem bad on paper, they are actually one of the top five three-point shooting teams in the league and seventh in points per game. Despite all these weird statistics on offense, the Knicks are in the top 10 in points allowed and have the third best forward in the game right now, Carmelo Anthony. And believe it or not, Melo is actually playing defense and is competing the hardest I’ve seen him compete since his early days in Denver. The Knicks have built this identity the past couple of weeks of giving the ball to Melo and 6th man of the year candidate, JR Smith, and letting them create offense with various pick and rolls and iso’s. Teams are having a hard time adjusting to this offense, but if any team can figure it out, it will be the Celtics. In short, the Knicks are a nitty gritty team full of veterans that will be there defensively, but offensively, it all depends on Melo and JR Smith.
Oye, where should I start with my Celtics??? Should I start with the fact that the injury bug has hit us yet again with injuries to Sullinger, Bradley, and Rondo? Or should I start with the emergence of the young star Jeff Green and his inconsistent play over the season? How about I start with Coach Doc, who has done a wonderful job of getting this team toegther despite the adversity they have faced all season. Every player on this team has stepped up, and now that KG and Paul Pierce have rested, I believe our Celtics are poised to make another run to the Eastern Conference Finals again this year.
What the Knicks have to do to win -
The Knicks have to keep the Boston bench out of the game. We know Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are gonna show up, but Jeff Green, Jason Terry, and others are game changers. They are what keeps the Celtics either below 100 points or above 100 points. If the Knicks can stop the Boston bench and execute in the fourth quarter then they can definitely win this series.
What the Celtics have to do to win -
For the Celtics, it’s all about keeping Melo in check. Melo is given unfair treatment by the media for his isolation, me-first metnality that he plays with. But that is who he is, the Knicks are better off when he scores 30+ points in a game. This is why I believe the Celtics will take him totally out of the game, just like the other two times the Celtics played the Knicks in the playoffs. But even if they take Melo out of the game, the second priority is limiting three point attempts and then keeping the much improved JR Smith in check.
BOSTON CELTICS in 6 - In the end, I pick experience mixed with the new additions of Jordan Crawford and Jeff Green’s emergence late in the year to be too much for the old Knicks. Melo can’t win it by himself, and I expect JR Smith to be great at times, and just damn awful at times. The heart of the champion takes this series.
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