There are some nice storylines in a New York-Boston playoff series. Carmelo Anthony has taken Manhattan and will look to successfully navigate his creaky, old Knicks team past the creakier, though not quite older, Celtics squad who have managed the #7 seed in the East despite a season-ending injury to their superstar point guard, Rajon Rondo.
Knicks probable starting lineup:
PG Raymond Felton
SG Pablo Prigioni
SF Iman Shumpert
PF Carmelo Anthony
C Tyson Chandler
It’s ‘Melo’s series to win, as the Knicks have relied on his brand of bully ball all season to draw double teams and bomb away from the land of 3. (Boston was 4th in the league in 3 point defensive percentage, but more on that in a minute.) New York led the league in 3 pointers attempted, ending up tied for 4th in 3 point percentage.
Amar’e Stoudemire will miss at least the opening round and possibly the entire playoffs with his knee issues. As a difference-maker in this series, his impact would have been negligible as his defense. With Kenyon Martin ailing, it could turn in to a bigger issue.
Celtics probable starting lineup:
PG Avery Bradley
SG Paul Pierce
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett
I’ll say it again, Boston was 4th in the league in 3 point defensive percentage. 3 point attempts will determine this series, and every other one New York plays. If Boston can play Carmelo straight up, New York doesn’t stand a chance. Bass, Green, Pierce and even Garnett could all have a go on ‘Melo and if any of them have any semblance of success, New York’s 3-point shooters will have defenders who are allowed to stay home on them.
The way ‘Melo’s been scoring the ball, it’s unlikely — but that’s not the part that will cause Boston the most trouble. The Celtics’ offense managed to score 33 points less than the Timberwolves this year, good for 20th in the league. With Rondo and definitely without him, the C’s haven’t been an offensive juggernaut.
Watching Paul Pierce and Jeff Green pump fake away in isolation while Garnett tries to drag Chandler (and his bad back) out of the paint and help position will be dramatic and make it close. The Knicks bombing will catch up with them at some point in the playoffs, but it won’t happen against Boston.
Prediction: New York in 6.