Thursday, April 14, 2011

Eastern Conference Playoffs Round 1 - Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks

This is the series that I think everyone wants to see in the East.  Two cities known for basketball and with New York actually becoming relevant again.  Boston seems to be sliding after trading away Kendrick Perkins, so this one ought to be a good matchup. 

Boston Celtics:

The original Big 3, well at least for the young people, are getting old.  It seems as though over the last month of the season, they would run out of gas.  I've watched them play great for 3 quarters and then they just check out in the 4th and lose games that they had no business.  There was word that many on the team and even Doc Rivers wondered why they would have gotten rid of Perkins.  It seems as though Danny Ainge was willing to get rid of the size they had for more wing scoring to battle the teams in the East.  It looked like a deal that would allow them to answer the young legs of the Heat, Bulls and (funny) the Knicks.  There is reason for pause in this series.  You've got to respect the old guard (Pierce, KG, Ray, Shaq and Rondo), but the bigger question is can they stay healthy?  Shaq and Jermaine O'Neal seem to be duct taped together right now.  One goes down, the other gets better, then he goes down.  If Shaq's calf is ok, this series isn't much of test for the Celtics.  Pierce may not be scoring that much because I imagine that he's going to be trying to lock down Carmelo, although we all know that Pierce has heart.  For the most part, KG should be able to match Amare.  The Celtics know it's playoff time, but they can't afford to start slow like they did last year. 

New York Knicks:

Well, the trade that brought in Carmelo and Chauncey Billups is still providing blah results, especially compared to the way the Nuggets have been playing since the trade.  Carmelo is going to get his and Amare is going to get his, but really it's going to come down to the other guys.  The other question is whether the Knicks can dial in on defense for this series.  They have a lot of young athletic bodies but no size upfront (Jared Jeffries, Ronny Turiaf, and Shelden Williams don't equate to size).  The Knicks will try and speed up the pace and run the Celtics out of the gym but they are going to have to rebound well enough to run.  


Celtics - Shaq, Jeff Green and Troy Murphy.  Gentlemen, the honeymoon is over.  It's time for you to play ball.  Shaq has to be healthy because this is what they signed him for, the playoffs.  Jeff Green can't have the playoffs that he had at OKC, he's gotta step up and he'll be a tough cover for a lot of the bigs on the Knicks team.  Troy Murphy, you were brought in to be a significant member of this team.  If he's shaken off the rust, he should definitely help the Celtics win on the boards and he will have 6 fouls for Amare. 

Knicks - Toney Douglas and Bill Walker.  Douglas was running D'Antoni's system pretty well for a month or two.  He's a shoot first point guard but once he realized that he has scorers on his team, he became a better playmaker.  We know that Billups is going to get the majority of the minutes at the end of the game, but Douglas has a chance to make this a coming out party.  Walker has been through the playoffs most recently with the Celtics.  He probably can relate to the Knicks team some of the nuances of the Celtics, but somewhere deep down inside, he's going to be motivated to beat his former team. 

Prediction: This is going to be a tough one.  These two teams matchup well and that's good for the Knicks as they try and prove themselves.  My head says that the Celtics put it on snooze here at the end of the season while trying to find a rhythm with their new pieces.  Although this will add another chapter to the Celtics vs. Knicks lore, I gotta go with the green guys.  Celtics 4-3.  

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