Knicks vs. Celtics: Round 1 Playoff Matchup Breakdown
New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics
3pm on ABC, the NBA version of Yankees RedSox will begin at Madison Square Garden. The 2nd seed New York Knicks take on the 7th seed Boston Celtics. The similarities go far beyond geography as these teams cannot stand each other. Other than that it is the Celtics that have the history of multiple championships, while the Knicks hope to catch up in that category.
Emotions will run high and the mystery of whether those emotions will enhance or challenge the focus is what makes this must see T.V. These teams don’t like each other and judging from the personal space, verbal altercation between team stars Kevin Garnett and Carmelo Anthony during the regular season, they probably don’t respect each other either.
I almost didn’t want to mention the fact that the Knicks have won three out of four games played in the regular season. That’s a meaningless fact between these two teams come late April. What will be on their minds will be the 2011 sweep the Knicks suffered in the first round of that season’s playoffs.
Here’s what you can expect to see. The Knicks would like to get hot from the perimeter and stay there. They do that better when they are able to drive to the basket. When successful, the Knicks will either drive and kick the ball out to the shooters (and they have several) or drive and get to the free throw line. Now some analysts have the opinion that to beat the Knicks you have to be able to close out to the perimeter and challenge shots. However, over the course of the game, that’s just a short term solution. Especially if the Knicks maintain good ball movement. Boston needs to make driving to the basket a bad idea without getting into foul trouble. They need to clog the lane before the Knick drivers get there. That makes the kick out awkward and desperate instead of a viable option to an over committed defender.
At this point in the season, injuries and what they do to your roster are not an excuse. Every team has them, and it’s how a team is built from top to bottom that gets them through. In 2013, this is the major difference between these two teams. They are both old and missing key ingredients to their success. Most notably Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo and Knicks C/PF Amare Stoudemire. The difference is the Knicks went out and acquired Kenyon Martin. They also have surprisingly great play from 28 year old Rookie Chris Copeland. On the surface it’s team depth that will be the deciding factor and the Knicks have that advantage. Let’s look at the positional match-ups that will be fun to watch over the course of this series.
Primarily, this will be Tyson Chandler vs. Kevin Garnett. Offensively, it’s Garnett. Defensively, the slight edge goes to Chandler. It’s the bench that will be the difference here as all the Knicks have is recently acquired big manEarl Barron and an aging Marcus Camby is far from 100% healthy. The Knicks can go small here with Copeland, but there are no real impact players beyond the starters. It’s not much better for the Celtics who have Chris Wilcox and rookie Fab Melo. EDGE EVEN.
POWER FORWARD MATCHUP
Ideally, the Celtics would like to have Kevin Garnett here and he will be in some scenarios. However, it will be Brandon Bass taking the majority of minutes here for the Celtics at power forward. He was an excellent pick up for the team, but there are no real impact players beyond him at the position. The Knicks have a surging Chris Copeland who can hit the three and drive to the basket and Kenyon Martin who is still a pick and roll threat who plays defense. But if this comes down to Bass and Garnett vs. Copeland and Martin .... EDGE CELTICS
SMALL FORWARD MATCHUP
Carmelo Anthony, who has proven a match up nightmare at both forward spots, took the scoring title from Kevin Durant this year. He did it efficiently and now he’s defending and rebounding. He’s getting to the free throw line and hitting the pull up jumper. From the bench, you can call it a night if sharp shooter Steve Novak can get hot. They have also added Quentin Richardson for depth and defensive options. Outside of the athletic Jeff Green, the Celtics have to no answers worth mentioning. EDGE KNICKS
SHOOTING GUARD MATCHUP
Here is a Celtic strength as Paul Pierce in the clutch is a proven commodity. He has lost a step defensively, but on offense he will keep this team together and make it scary if it’s close late. Iman Shumpert and the explosive J.R Smith are what the Knicks have to offer, and they can get 30-40 points out of the position in a game and play great defense. EDGE CELTICS
POINT GUARD MATCHUP
Celtics suffer here due to the absence of Rondo, but not too much. Avery Bradley and Jason Terry can make it tough for the Knicks who have a shaky defender in Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni listed as questionable for game 1. Shooting guard Iman Shumpert has improved his ball handling and could share time w/ veteran shooting guard Jason Kidd to pick up the slack. I guess that’s O.K. but until I can 100% call Prigioni healthy I have to give it to Boston. EDGE CELTICS