The matchups are set, and the Knicks will be facing the Boston Celtics in the first round. These two teams have faced off in the playoffs 12 separate times, and out of those 12 series each team has won six.
In Amar’e Stoudemire’s words, “The Knicks are back,” and the fans are excited.
Obviously the three seeded Celtics are the favorites in this series over the six seeded New York Knicks. However, winning is not quite out of reach for the Knickerbockers, but if they’re going to snatch up this series from the Celtics, plenty of things must go their way.
First off, the Celtics give up the fewest points per game in the league, whereas, the Knicks give up the fourth most. The Knicks really need to lock down on defense if they want to compete with the Celtics.
Over the last three seasons vs. the Knicks, Paul Pierce has averaged just about 25 points per game. If the Knicks can somehow find a way to stop (or even slow) Pierce, they may be able to hold the Celtics offense down.
Yes, Ray Allen can score. Yes, Kevin Garnett can score. Rondo, Green… the list goes on. But Pierce is the Celtics’ first option, and stopping him may be just enough to throw the C’s offense off-kilter.
Secondly, with the trade of Kendrick Perkins for Jeff Green, the Celtics went from a post powerhouse to a team with a marginally above average inside game and way too many power forwards playing center.
That said, Shaq should be back for the playoffs, and KG is no slouch. Plus, the Celtics should get some good minutes from Glen Davis and Jeff Green (who are both PFs). Beyond that, the Celtics have Nenad Krstic and Troy Murphy.
The Celtics have good, deep, but beatable post players. For the Knicks to stand tall against the Celtics, Amar’e Stoudemire has to be playing at the top of his game, offensively and especially defensively.
Then you have something pretty tough to swallow, the deciding factor of the Knicks winning the upcoming series or not, could be the play of Ronny Turiaf, Shelden Williams, and Jared Jeffries.
That said, these three guys are team players that are willing to do the dirty work, and boy will they have to. The Knicks need their rag-tag team of (makeshift) centers to be rough and tough (and use the 18 fouls between them) with all of the Celtics post players.
All-in-all, this matchup has all the makings to be a very exciting series. But, for that to happen the Knicks need to lock down on defense and try to keep the Celtics out of the paint.
For the Knicks, the points will come and offense shouldn’t be a problem. But, we’ve seen the Knicks go cold, and we’ve seen them go especially cold in the fourth quarter against the Celtics. If the Knicks can hinder Pierce, play tough inside, and keep the offense coming, they just might pull off an upset over the mighty Boston Celtics.