Saturday, April 16, 2011
Knicks Vs. Celtics Playoffs Preview
What more can be said about the Boston-New York rivalry that hasn't already been said to death by every writer in New York? The media loves to force rivalries where there are none (San Antonio and Phoenix?) and as I've said before, the way in which players are so chummy these days it's hard to recreate the intense rivalries of the past decades. Except Boston and New York beef is legitimate. We really don't like their sports teams and they don't like ours. Some of us more serious fans might let that hate creep into our feelings for the actual cities. Get equally hard-core Boston and New York fans together in the same room and it can quickly spiral into uncomfortable jokes about each other's histories (for the record, the Boston accent does sound stupid, and the city is historically racist).
Now to the match-ups and predictions:
Point Guard: Billups vs Rondo
This match-up is getting plenty of hype lately, and the edge has to go to Rondo. Rajon might be the most important player for the C's. We all know he's got the shooting touch of a drunk Frankenstein, but he's way too quick for a hobbling old Chauncey. When he's getting inside and doing those stupid behind the back fakes the defense has to collapse and that means open shots for the other green guys.
Shooting Guard: Ray Allen vs Landry Fields
The hell happened to Landry? As much as it pains me to say it, Bottle
might have been right about this guy. Or at least, he's right that the Knicks made too much of a stink over him. A combination of the rookie wall late in the season , and, by his own admission, a struggle to fit into a mostly isolation offense since Melo arrived, and the guy who the Knicks refused to include in the trade has practically played himself out of the rotation. He's a decent on the ball defender though, so he may be able to get into Ray Ray a little bit. Even so, the edge goes to the Celtics here by a wide margin
Small Forward: Carmelo Anthony vs Paul Pierce
This is a close one. Carmelo is an unbelievable scorer who's gone 3 point shot crazy since coming to the Knicks and Pierce is a historic Knick killer and big time playoff performer, but Melo gets the edge here. All eyes are going to be on Anthony for this series, all the Letterman and SNL appearances don't mean anything if he doesn't put up lights out numbers in his first playoff series. It's what the Knicks traded half of their team for and what is expected of him. Put up or shut up time, Melo.
Power Forward: Amare Stoudemire vs Kevin Garnett
A few years ago, this would have been the marquee match-up of the series. Age and injuries have slowed both of these guys down a bit, but it should still be fun to watch. Top that off with the fact that these guys hate each other (dating back to their Western conference playoff battles) and it could get ugly out there. Amare's been bragging in the papers about how K.G. tried to intimidate him as a rookie the first time they played in the postseason, and how he rocked him for 38 points, so expect both guys to be motivated. Garnett will be letting the "motherfuckers" and "Bitch ass ni#$as" fly and smacking himself in the face and whatever other retarded ways he jacks himself up (should Garnett apologize to bitch ass ni#$as everywhere if Kobe had to apologize for his F word?). I give a slight edge to the Knicks if Amare is fully recovered from his ankle injury, though.
Center: Ronny Turiaf/Shelden Williams vs. Shaq/Jermaine O'neal/Nenad Krstic/?
Not quite Ewing vs. Parish this series. Shaq's health is the (big surprise) concern here, and if he can't go full Diesel, than expect to see a rotating big man starting line-up for the Celtics. Nice job, Ainge. Betting that Shaq and Jermaine would stay healthy while trading away your emotional leader starting Center is kind of like betting the deed on your house on Lindsay Lohan staying on the wagon. The Knicks aren't much better at this position. Edge to the Celtics here though, since they have more warm bodies to trot out there (and Shelden Williams injured himself in a meaningless game last week).
Benches: T.Douglas, Bill Walker, Shawne Williams, Anthony Carter, whoever doesn't start at center vs. Baby Davis, Jeff Green, whoever doesn't start at center, Delonte West
Toney will be that ever popular "x factor" that Greg Anthony loves to talk about. He plays close to starter minutes, and D'Antoni likes to put him out there alongside Billups to alleviate the defensive responsibilities, and if he's hitting his 3s and little floaters, the Knicks might win the battle of the benches. I'm not sold on Jeff Green, but he can get buckets too. Very slight edge to the Celts since so much of the Knicks' bench (as well as entire team) relies on 3 point accuracy.
Coaches: Mike D. vs. Doc Rivers
Remember when Doc was the worst coach evahh in Boston? Just add 2 hall of famers and you're Red Auerbach reincarnated. D'Antoni's getting a lot of somewhat deserved hate around here, and anything less than a six game series might mean the ax for him. Edge to Celtics.
So, the Knicks don't have much going for them it appears. Nevertheless, Boston's been up and down just like they have since both teams' big trades and the Knicks are younger and stupider. They're likely to get hot in a game or 2 and get the Celtics doubting themselves a little. This is the team that made it to game 7 last year (minus Perkins) and won a title two years ago so I don't see them getting too rattled. It's nice to see any kind of competitive basketball around Easter time in New York, but I'm afraid it will be a short-lived feeling of excitement, at least for this year.
Celtics in 6.