The Knicks. The Celtics. It’s a shame this is only an entry level matchup because as far as first round series go, this one will almost certainly be the most intense. Take the jump to read more about it.
At the moment, Boston has depth issues, chemistry concerns and injury woes, particularly concerning Shaquille O’Neal, who has missed 44 games with injuries to his right leg. Some have speculated that this may be Boston’s last stand with its current core. Meanwhile, the coach, Doc Rivers, has debated his return each summer.
The Knicks and the Celtics are part of the N.B.A.’s original franchises and their playoff matchups date back to the 1950-51 season, only a few years seasons after the birth of the N.B.A. The Knicks have met Boston 13 times in the playoffs, more than any other opponent. They have won six of those series.
The surging Knicks, winners of seven straight, are the unknown quantity and most dangerous first-round opponent for a high seed to take on, boasting a red-hot Carmelo Anthony, an experienced champion in Chauncey Billups and Amar’e Stoudemire, the league’s unofficial MVP across the season’s first half. The Big Apple 3 are starting to ripen.
“[They're a] great team,” Boston’s Jeff Green said last night. “Two big-time scorers in Carmelo and Amar’e. They’re going to be challenging.”
Mike D’Antoni would like to see his regulars play one last time before the playoffs began and there is a strong possibility Stoudemire will be available against Chicago. It’s unlikely that Stoudemire, Anthony or Billups will play Wednesday in Boston.
If the Knicks pull off the upset, they would face the winner of the Miami-Philadelphia series in the second round. The Knicks are 2-2 against the Heat this season.
One longtime scout felt that the Knicks would have been better off with Miami. “Chris Bosh will struggle against Amar’e,” the scout said. “Garnett can take Stoudemire out of the series. He’s that good defensively. Either way, the Knicks will have a tough time.”
* Chauncey Billups delivers the quote that killed defenders of regular season importance.
“It’s just magnified 20 times,” Billups told The Post about his extra playoff film work. “You watch every little thing that your opponent could be doing and try to beat them to the punch, try to know what they’re doing before they make the play. It’s hard to do, but it’s necessary to be as prepared as possible.”
* Carmelo gets named player of the week.
* Knickerblogger takes a look at some other Celtics/Knicks intricacies.
* Have the Knicks finally figured out a cohesive offensive attack?