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Playoff Preview: Celtics vs Knicks

This is the moment everyone has been waiting for.  The crowds will be louder than ever.  Coaches will be screaming more often.  This is when the best teams will battle it out until the final second.  This is when New York gets to be back on what was once a familiar stage and probably will be for the years that come after.

The Knicks are back in the playoffs, and what better way to start off the postseason by playing against the Boston Celtics.  This series will be very entertaining, or possibly the most entertaining series in the first round.  Why would this matchup be better than the rest?  I am not saying this is the best cause I’m from New York and I feel that everything here is more special.  The Knicks is a very unique team this year, compared to the others that made it to the postseason.  No one knows how they will perform.  The Knicks is still a new team.  Their consistency wasn’t great after the trade deadline, but New York has three of the top players in the league that comes with lots of playoff experience.  Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Chauncey Billups have made many big shots during the playoffs.  I have seen 40-point performances from all of the three players in the playoffs.

They have proven to be tough to play against in the playoffs before, but they face a new challenge now.  They are playing a Celtic team that has great chemistry.  Despite reoccurring injuries from Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal, and Delonte West, they have been able to compete well throughout the season.  Trading away Kendrick Perkins might seem like a big loss for their chemistry, but they still have great players in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo.  Rondo has had his best season so far, averaging a double-double in points and assists.  They were underestimated last year.  Critics thought they weren’t even going to advance past the first round, but they were one win away from winning it all.  They have established the Celtics as a postseason powerhouse over the last few years.

The Knicks still have a reason to believe that they can pull an upset against Boston.  They would need to step up their defense because Boston plays by each possession.  I would expect this game to be a slugfest; great shooting coming from both teams.  You can rely on New York to keep the game close until the final minutes.  Defense will be a gigantic factor, especially in crunch time.  The Knicks can’t just chase after the ball and end up leaving a few guys open beyond the arc.  New York has had poor perimeter defense throughout the season.  Improving this problem will make Boston take tougher shots, instead of leaving Allen and Pierce uncontested.  Even with the O’Neal’s at the post, they wouldn’t be a threat towards the end of the game.  I think the three-ball will definitely come in handy in this series.  Expect both teams to average at least 18 3-point attempts per game.  Also, the Knicks need to encourage more ball movement or player movement during the end of these playoff games.  It is too embarrassing to watch Carmelo making a move while everyone just stands and watches him.  This would allow the opposing team to easily focus on just Carmelo instead of the man they’re guarding.  Mike D’Antoni needs to solve that problem.  I think that issue is what caused New York to have a big losing streak during March.  They have to notice these problems, because they don’t want it to haunt them during the playoffs.

Otherwise, I can see New York having a chance to win the series only if they win at least one of the first two games in Boston.  If Boston wins those two, then New York’s chances may be out of reach.  In the end, this matchup will probably be the highest rated series in the first round this year.  We have two of the largest cities in the United States fighting it out for a spot on the conference semifinals.  They will be playing in two of the most iconic stages in basketball today.  There is so much history between these two teams.  Enjoy the series, and hopefully we will see New York pull away with the series win!

Follow me on Twitter @timosmooth

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