This is a tale of two hungry teams. Boston never lets go. Even with the absence of all-star point guard, Rajon Rondo, the Celtics expect to make this a highly competitive series. The nature of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett is to keep pushing. They disregard the effects of old age. New York is out to prove they can go far in the playoffs. The regular season gave fans a reason to believe in the team.
What New York needs to do to win: Melo and J.R. Smith both need to be on top of their game. When they both get going, the Knicks can be very difficult to stop. With that said, they also cannot stop the ball movement too much. The Knicks don’t execute great when Melo or J.R. goes one-on-one every single time. They need to mix it up. Anthony can pick and choose when he wants to isolate his defender. Also, the Knicks simply need to match the energy level of Boston. They have some momentum coming into the series. Finally and most importantly, they can’t overlook the Celtics. The Celtics are always ready to rumble in the playoffs.
What Boston needs to do to win: They absolutely need to guard the perimeter. If Carmelo beats them, they’ll have to live with it. But they can’t let deadly three-point shooting beat them. The Celtics must stay at home on all the three-point shooters. Obviously, that makes it more difficult to guard Melo but that’s the breaks. Also, Paul Pierce needs to match up well with Melo. He needs to be the same go-to-guy he has been since 2008. “The Truth” has great heart and for that reason, you can’t doubt that he can possibly get the best of Anthony. While Anthony is certainly the better scorer, Pierce has other facets of his game that he can utilize.
Carmelo Anthony vs. Paul Pierce: This is one of the most entertaining head-to-head matchups in the playoffs. Paul Pierce has proved himself in the past as an elite playoff player. He has unbelievable courage and is willing to do just about anything in order to win. But there seems to be a new and evolved Carmelo Anthony this year. Anthony is scoring at an exceptionally high level. On top of that, he has become a far better teammate this year. He is making players around him perform better. It should be fun to watch these guys go at it.
Tyson Chandler vs. Kevin Garnett: Tyson Chandler has never fit better anywhere else than New York. He doesn’t need to worry about producing on offense because he is the backbone of the Knicks’ defense. Without Chandler, the Knicks would be strictly an offensive team. Tyson can give any player trouble finishing at the rim. With that said, Garnett has been relying a lot on his mid-range shot, which is almost automatic if you give him space. Therefore, the Knicks’ defensive scheme may be something other than man-to-man.
Big question: Can Avery Bradley shut down J.R. Smith? Bradley is an excellent defender that’s known to get under your skin.
Playoff Experience: There is a whole lot of this from both teams. The Celts benefit from playoff experience every postseason. Jason Terry has had a subpar season. However, the playoffs are a whole new season. Watch out for him to explode on any given night. Then there is Pierce and Garnett, who have been there and done that. Tyson Chandler, Jason Kidd, and Jason Terry all won a championship together on the Mavericks.
Prediction: Knicks in Seven Games