The city of Boston is an inspired one right now. A packed TD Garden rose to its feet for an awe-inspiring moment on Wednesday night, singing the National Anthem prior to the start of the Boston Bruins – Buffalo Sabres contest — a game that marked the first sporting event in the city of Boston since Monday’s tragic events unfolded at the Boston Marathon.
Now, the Boston Celtics don’t play at home themselves until Friday, Apr. 26 as a spaced out first round series with the New York Knicks will begin at Madison Square Garden. Game 1 is scheduled for a 3:00pm (EST) tip on Saturday afternoon, with the series continuing on Tuesday before making the switch to Boston.
The Celtics basically crawled their way through the 2012-13 season, ending the regular season with a loss to the Toronto Raptors and an overall mark of 41-40. Boston is the 7-seed in the Eastern Conference and they are not looking like the squad that they have in year’s past. In addition to that, the Knicks and NBA MVP candidate Carmelo Anthony are having one of their best seasons in recent memory.
So, does Boston have any chance? You better believe it.
It’s another Boston-New York rivalry with tons of emotions and expectations on the line. There’s no doubt that this series could just turn out to be the best series that occurs in the first round. With the Knicks being the favorites however, the Celtics have more than enough expectations of their own. Boston knows they can win this series with the Knicks, so don’t be surprised if that’s exactly what happens.
The Celtics will need to find a way to win one on the road in New York either on Saturday or Tuesday and take an evened series back home to emotionally charged TD Garden. The Celtics have always featured one of the tougher environments in the NBA, so you know that if Boston can bring some momentum back home, that’s just another factor that will aid their upset push.
Boston will need to find a way to slow down a red hot Carmelo Anthony, but Paul Pierce has always been used to guarding some of their opponent’s top threats in the playoffs. Throw in a younger, more athletic Jeff Green as well, and Boston will have their chance to stop Carmelo, but there’s no doubt that Anthony will be a load to handle simply based off the way he has been playing. Another key match-up will be the X-Factor ability of J.R. Smith, but Boston should feel confident in their ability to throw Avery Bradley on him defensively.
There is no Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett has seen his fair share of rest recently, but know one thing — the Celtics may be old, but they were one game away from advancing to the NBA Finals a season ago.
Don’t sleep on Boston in this series with New York.
Follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS