Though neither of the two teams involved are the best team in the Eastern Conference, the first round series between the second seeded New York Knicks and the seventh seeded Boston Celtics looks like it’s going to be the best series in the East-half of the NBA Playoffs. The series will have bad blood, stars in the NBA, and two great home crowds; it’s going to be fantastic.
Disregarding any talk or jokes about breakfast cereals, the Knicks and the Celtics are almost polar opposites of one another in regards to how they win games. The Celtics focus on their defense, ranking six in the league in points allowed per 100 possessions at just 100.4, but they play average offense, putting up just 101.1 points per 100 possessions. The Knicks, however, live off of their high scoring offense that averages 108.6 points per 100 possessions. Their defense has been questionable, though, allowing 103.5 points per 100 possessions this season.
New York obviously has the best player in this series in Carmelo Anthony, who is also a huge part of the friction between these two teams, particularly with Kevin Garnett. Anthony may be the most talented player on the floor, but there’s no doubt that Garnett and Paul Pierce have the advantage when it comes to experience leading in the postseason. After all, they have won an NBA Championship together with the Celtics while the Knicks haven’t won a playoff series in 13 years and Carmelo has made it out of the first round just once.
It’s pretty obvious that Anthony, Garnett and Pierce are going to produce in this series, but several complimentary players are going to be key for each of their teams in this matchup. For the Knicks, J.R. Smith has to play like he has at the end of the season when he’s been attacking the rim and taking relatively smart jump shots. If he reverts to how he was in the middle of the season, jacking up any shot, no matter how far away or how contested it is, New York is going to falter. Tyson Chandler also needs to be huge on the boards for the Knicks, taking advantage of the Celtics’ lack of size down low.
Two guys for the Celtics have to play consistently big roles for them in this series: Jeff Green and Jason Terry. Green is the best individual scorer for Boston in terms of creating his own shot. However, the problem with Green is that he has a tendency to disappear and not be able to string long streaks of games together where he consistently produces. He has to do that against the Knicks, though. Terry, on the other hand, has been a disappointment this season, not hitting shots at an efficient rate and seeming to have lost a step. Terry is notorious, though, for taking his game to another level in big games and in the postseason. The Celtics need him to do that to bolster their offense.
The Knicks have the clear advantage in this series, but the Celtics have an incredible coach in Doc Rivers and have been saving some go-juice for the playoffs. Also, with the recent events in Boston, it’s hard to imagine the Celtics losing at home in this series. This series has a strong chance to go seven games, but New York should ultimately be the victors.