The Boston Celtics’ five year run at the forefront of the Atlantic Division is over. The New York Knicks won the division for the first time since 1993-94, and are the #2 seed going in the Eastern Conference heading into the playoffs.
The Knicks will take on the seventh-seeded Celtics in round one, looking to avenge themselves after being swept in the opening series by Boston in 2010-11. Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire are the only remaining Knicks from the ’10-‘11 team, but still remember the feeling of embarrassment left by that series.
New York was 3-1 against Boston this season, but in the lone loss Anthony allowed Kevin Garnett to get into his head and he lost his cool. Anthony went after Garnett on the court and even waited for him at the Celtics team bus after the game, but the two never came to blows. Garnett, a notoriously irritating trash-talker, will undoubtedly try to pull those same tactics again. Why wouldn’t he? Flustering Melo gives his team the best chance to win.
Anthony, the NBA’s scoring champion with 28.7 points per game, needs to keep his composure- and win. Anthony has just one playoff victory in a Knicks uniform, and over the course of his career has gone 17-37 in the postseason, losing in the first round for eight of his nine seasons in the league. Melo needs to prove he can win in the playoffs, and lead his Knicks to the Eastern Conference Finals for this season to be a true success.
The Celtics aren’t going to go down easy, but with Rajon Rondo (torn ACL) sidelined and with Paul Pierce and KG slowing down as they age, the Knicks should win.
Scratch that- the Knicks have to win. Otherwise, this season will be looked upon as a failure despite the team winning the Atlantic and finishing with a record of 54-28.
An NBA Championship has been the goal for Anthony and the Knicks since the beginning of the season, and that journey starts in Round 1 against the Celtics.
Prediction: Knicks in five. Anthony, J.R. Smith, and New York’s 3-point shooting will be too much for Boston, but Jeff Green can lead them to at least one victory at home.