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Knicks vs. Celtics: Series Preview

Here is a position-by-position preview for the upcoming series between the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics. I’d like to thank Nico Premutico for helping me with this post. Let me know what your expectations are for the upcoming series in the comments!



Chauncey Billups:

STRENGTH: Throughout the postseason, Chauncey Billups will play the role of the coach. He has remarkable leadership abilities and will either lead this team to success or to failure. If he is able to live up to his name “Mr. Bigshot” as well as control this team, the Knicks will be in great position to take this series from the Celtics.

WEAKNESS: Chauncey Billups is still performing at an unbelievable level at age 34, but his biggest weakness is his inability to keep up with young, fast point guards. He will have to attempt to do just this in the first round matchup with Boston. Expect Rajon Rondo to exploit Billups’ lack of quickness when he finds Billups guarding him.

Rajon Rondo:

STRENGTH: Rajon Rondo throughout the 2010-2011 season has proven to be one of the top floor generals in the game. His vision and play-making skills are crucial to Boston’s success and one has to assume that he will run the floor as hard as he can in order to wear out the 34-year-old Chauncey Billups. In last year’s postseason Rondo preformed exceptionally dazzling fans with his hustle and his passing skills will make him a nightmare for Mike D’Antoni’s defensive scheme (if the even have one). His defensive presence will be crucial to the Celtics’ plan of shutting down the NBA’s 2nd leading scoring team at 106.5 PPG.

WEAKNESS: Rajon Rondo’s biggest weakness is his jump shot. While Rondo is a brilliant playmaker and averages 11.2 APG; His jump shot continues to be a large hole in his game and if the Knicks decide to give him five feet of floor space to shoot the ball and try to defend his passing, Rondo will need to be creative if his passing is not at its highest level.


 

Landry Fields:

STRENGTH: Landry will be the leader of the “Dirty Work” club. He is known for his gritty style of play. If there is a loose ball, expect him fighting for it. If there is a breakaway for the Celtics, expect him sprinting back. Landry will be running all over the court and will be assisting this team in ways that do not show up on the stat sheet.

WEAKNESS: As spectacular as Landry has been this year, he has finally hit the rookie wall. If Landry can overcome his slump and return to his form prior to the trade, Landry will be a very valuable asset for the Knicks in this postseason.

Ray Allen:

STRENGTH: “Sugar Ray” at 35, is one of the most prolific 3-point shooters in the game and a major threat in the postseason. Allen’s experience and clutch 3-point shooting (.444 3P% for the 2010-2011 season) can take over the game and be another weapon for the Celtics offense.

WEAKNESS: Fatigue. At times Ray has looked a little sluggish on defense over the course of the season and he has taken some criticism for his fatigue. However, if Ray can be the smart and experienced player he has proven to be on defense, it will just be another force the Knicks will have to counter.



Carmelo Anthony:

STRENGTH: When it comes to scoring the basketball, there might not be anyone better than Carmelo Anthony in the entire league. He has many moves that put him in position to score. In my opinion, Melo’s most lethal position on the floor is the elbow. No matter whose guarding him or how much time is left on the clock, Melo is always able to get a shot from the elbow.

WEAKNESS: To be an elite scorer, you must have the ball in your hands a lot. At times Carmelo can turn into a black hole. The Knicks’ offense is built around movement of the basketball. When someone like Melo sucks the ball up for 7-10 seconds in one possession, it will kill all of the fluidity of the team. For the Knicks and Carmelo Anthony to be successful in the playoffs, Melo must play team basketball (at least for 43 minutes) and find the open man.

Paul Pierce:

STRENGTH: “Sugar Ray” at 35, is one of the most prolific 3-point shooters in the game and a major threat in the postseason. Allen’s experience and clutch 3-point shooting (.444 3P% for the 2010-2011 season) can take over the game and be another weapon for the Celtics offense.

WEAKNESS: Fatigue. At times Ray has looked a little sluggish on defense over the course of the season and he has taken some criticism for his fatigue. However, if Ray can be the smart and experienced player he has proven to be on defense, it will just be another force the Knicks will have to counter.



Amare Stoudemire:

STRENGTH: Amare Stoudemire is the Knicks’ heart and sole. When he first arrived in New York and said, “The Knicks are back” no one truly believed him, but now we are forced to. Simply put Amare Stoudemire is probably the best scorer the league has from the Power Forward position. Amare is devastating to the opposition in Pick-and-Roll scenarios and recently the Knicks have also begun to incorporate the Stoudemire-Anthony Pick and Roll from the wing. This year however, Amare has received the ball in isolations where it is close to impossible to guard him. Give him too much space and he will rise for the 20 foot jumper, come up on him and he will go around you and slam it in your face.

WEAKNESS: Although the case can be made that Stoudemire is the biggest offensive threat from his position, Stoudemire stuggles mightily on defense and on the boards. This year alone Stoudemire has let opposing big men like Tyler Hansbrough feast on the pick and the pop. Overall, Stoudemire often looks lost in Pick and Roll scenarios and the Celtics Big Men; Kevin Garnett, Glen Davis, Jeff Green, and to a lesser extent Nenad Kristic, are all very good in the Pick and Pop – so it is instrumental that Stoudemie agressively defends the Pick and Pop. Stoudemire also struggles on the boards as he tries to not pick up fouls. In the post season, rebounds are at a premium and Amare will have to step up this facet of his game.

Kevin Garnett:

STRENGTH: Garnett is a technician in the paint, however, with Amare defending him, Garnett will rely on his perimeter jumpshot as Amare often does not get out agressively in the Pick and Roll. On defense Garnett is a very good defender in head to head scenarios and helping from the weakside.

WEAKNESS: Matchup. Garnett had trouble guarding Amare in the regular season, but maybe with some help from Shaquille O’Neal he will fare better. He also is a huge head-case, especially on the road. He needs to accept the fact that Amare will score, and stay out of foul trouble.


Ronny Turiaf:

STRENGTH: Ronny Turiaf brings a tremendous amount of energy every single night. He can finish at the rim and rebound the basketball. Turiaf’s biggest strength is his size. On a roster without much size, Turiaf could play an intricate role in the Knicks’ success.

WEAKNESS: Just like his opponent, Shaquille O’Neal, Ronny has been plagued with an injury-ridden career.

Shaquille O’Neal:

STRENGTH: Shaq will be a huge help for the C’s defense, especially in the paint. If he is able to play in this series he and Garnett have potential to shut down Amare and the rest of the Knick offense.

WEAKNESS: Health. Shaq was only able to play in 37 games during the regular season, so his playing time will almost definitely be limited. If he can get minutes and play well and hard on both ends of the floor, Amare Stoudemire will have serious issues.