Well here we are, the playoffs. One would be in hard-pressed to find a team that is as experienced(read: old) as the Celtics are. Boston rolling into New York to tip off the first round of the 2012-2013 playoffs on April 20th at 3 pm. The Knicks own the season series at an edge of 3 games to 1 in handily fashion. The Knicks have certainly been a team to reckon with this season, and are now looking for revenge for being swept by the Celtics two seasons ago. While at that point, it was clear the Celtics were a much better team, this year it is not as clear and may even be tilting towards the Knicks being the better team especially with the Celtics no longer with Rajon Rondo for the remainder of the season.
The Celtics have limped to the finish line doing just enough to stay in the playoff race and avoid the dreaded 8th seed matchup against the Heat. This bad finish could be attributed to the lack of KG and Pierce playing quality minutes and these two will be leaned on heavily in this series to have a chance to win. Carmelo isn’t going to stop, so neither can Pierce or KG. The true x factor will be the play of Jeff Green. Green, who has had a knack this season for showing up in big games and performing extremely well, also has a tendency to disappear as well. If he cannot provide the needed spark and plenty of minutes, this series might as well be over before it even starts.
The Knicks meanwhile, are white hot losing only 2 games since March 18th consistently scoring 90+ points a game in this streak, and there will not be any stopping this offensive powerhouse which could pose real problems for the Celtics. With Carmelo, J.R. Smith, and Raymond Felton ( excluding Stoudemire who will most likely miss this series) are the big players that need to be watched at all times. It’s going to be virtually impossible to shut them all down, so the best bet is to try and use the strategies for past games with superstars (Lebron in CLE, Kobe in LA, etc) which is to let the star get ‘their’ points, while shutting down the support system. Quite frankly, unless there are some unforseen circumstances, I believe that is the only way the Celtics could realistically keep it close and have an opportunity to win.
This is an extremely tough matchup for the Celtics, this is not your father’s ill-fated Knicks team and certainly need to be taken seriously. The Celtics have never been a 7 seed before in the playoffs, but their only times as 8 seeds, all ended in defeat. My heart and mind are torn on this one. I hope my heart prediction is the right one, but logic tells you the ride could very well end in New York.
Heart: Celtics in 6
Mind: Knicks in 5
**At the time of this writing, the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing were apprehended or killed therefore ending a hectic, emotional week. But we realize not everyone was lucky, as there were casualties(3 at marathon, 1 MIT security officer) and over 150 injured. The prayers of all us at NESR are with the families and friends of those that have been seriously affected by the tragedies in the Boston area this week as the area continues to recover. Stay strong Boston. **