New Crew, Same Trip: Boston Celtics @ New York Knicks Playoffs Preview

New York Knicks logo

The best time of the year is upon us again. The NBA playoffs is just over two weeks away; ’tis the time when the grind of the season separates the contenders from the wannabes, the champions from the aspirants, and most of all, when history is made. In short, this is what the Boston Celtics are all about. As fate would have it, the Celtics are set to face the Knicks to start this momentuous journey off.

(Ed: So, who else hates the Knicks? Design courtesy CelticsLife.)

New York Sucks design – CelticsLife

Stat check:

The New York Knicks (53-27) are officially champs in the the Atlantic division, and have locked up the second seed in the Eastern Conference. The last time we faced the Knicks without KG this season, it resulted in a 108-89 loss at the Madison Square Garden. Postseason record

Battle begins

  • Game 1: Sun, 21 Apr 2013, 0500hrs AEST at Madison Square Garden, New York
  • Game 2: Wed, 24 Apr 2013, 1000hrs AEST at Madison Square Garden, New York
  • Game 3: Sat, 27 Apr 2013, 1000hrs AEST at TD Garden, Boston
  • Game 4: Mon, 29 Apr 2013, 0300hrs AEST at TD Garden, Boston
  • Game 5: Thu, 2 May 2013, TBD at Madison Square Garden, New York *
  • Game 6: Sat, 4 May 2013, TBD at TD Garden, Boston *
  • Game 7: Mon, 6 May 2013, TBD at Madison Square Garde, New York *

* Scheduled if necessary.

Watch it

NBA League Pass. Game 2 and Game 3 will be on ESPN live.

Roster changes

Boston Celtics:

  • Rajon Rondo (ACL) and Jared Sullinger (back) are both out for the season.

New York Knicks:

  • Rasheed Wallace has chosen to retire before the postseason.
  • Quentin Richardson has been signed to the roster as of 17 April 2013.
  • Amar’e Stoudemire (knees) is out indefinitely.
  • Marcus Camby (foot) is currently day-to-day.
  • Tyson Chandler (neck) is currently day-to-day.
  • Kenyon Martin (ankle) looks to be back for the playoffs, already working out at practice.
  • Pablo Prigioni rolled his ankle on Hawks game, X-rays negative and is day-to-day. Questionable for Game 1.
  • Chris Copeland suffered a shoulder injury on Hawks game, day-to-day and questionable for Game 1.

Top enemy performers (regular season)

  • Carmelo Anthony – 28.7 PPG & 6.9 RPG
  • J.R. Smith – 18.1 PPG & 5.3 RPG
  • Raymond Felton – 13.9 PPG & 5.5 APG
  • Tyson Chandler – 10.4 PPG & 10.7 RPG

Keys to the game

Health Health has always been an issue for the Celtics when the postseason comes around, and this year is no different. With Rondo and Sully out for the season, the Celtics will be forced to embark on their flight to Banner 18 without two valuable assets. Left with no alternative, we are forced to rely heavily on two of the oldest (and undoubtedly deadliest) weapons in our arsenal: Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.

Pierce and Garnett against the Bobcats in Feb 2013

As it is with Spiderman’s power and responsibility, with great age comes great weariness. If our two veterans are to compete at the highest level in the days ahead, the team need to do whatever it takes to keep these two healthy and rested. Although there is a far greater emphasis on keeping KG and Pierce in shape, the Celtics must not forget about the other guys on the team. With the throng of debiliating injuries suffered throughout this season, they simply cannot afford to lose another body. One injury could very well lead to a first-round exit this postseason.

Stifling Agent Smith We all know Carmelo Anthony can and will explode during this series. All the Celtics can do to remedy this situation, is to play great defense. The same thing Doc Rivers said about Kobe Bryant in the 2008 NBA Finals, could be said about Melo at this point: the Celtics cannot ‘overreact’ to anything he does. Shutting Melo down is a nigh impossible task when he is on a hot streak, and having Pierce cover Melo is likely to wear The Truth out later on. With that in mind, let us talk about potential Sixth Man candidate J.R. Smith instead. Smith is the other Knick who is offensively talented enough to create his own shot, and he is exactly where the Celtics should focus their defensive energy on. Fact: Melo will not be kicking the C’s in the nuts by utting up 70 points every game. He needs someone else to explode with him and recently, that someone has been J.R. Smith. Holding Smith’s output below his season average (18.1 PPG) is a crucial factor to winning this series. Depending on the lineup change, Bradley, Lee and even Williams could show their worth defensively on Smith. (Ed: I’m not hoping for JET or JCraw to stop JR. No sir, not at all.) So, let Melo be Melo. The Celtics will do their darndest to contain him, but they must shut down Smith. The Iron Man

Iron Man – Jeff Green (via CelticsLife)

Suit up, Iron Man. We are gonna need ya. It is important for Jeff Green to get it going early in the playoffs, both as a confidence boost and to get an offensive rhythm flowing. At this point, Green has proven himself to be a viable first option on the offensive end when Pierce and KG were absent. The Celtics need to unleash Green, period. Pierce and KG are going to be efficient 99% of the time. It does not however, change the fact that we need a third man to step up and carry some of the offensive load. Green has proven himself worthy of this honour with the recent boost in his offensive production. Of course, let us not forget the buzzer beaters he had against Indiana & Cleveland.

The Celtics forward possesses the length to finish in the paint with ease. Coupled with consistent outside shooting, Green possesses the overall ability to be a defensive mismatch. Will he stand up alongside the Truth and the Big Ticket, and prove to be the scoring threat the C’s need him to be in this series?
The Gangster Squad Even with Sully and Rondo out for the season, it does not change the fact that the Celtics are still one of the deeper teams in the NBA. (Ed: To quote a friend, it feels like the team is being held together with spit and duct tape at times.) The most obvious implication is that the Celtics must utilise this advantage against the Knicks, who are currently struggling with injuries to multiple players. Jason “The JET” Terry. Will the JET finally take off in the playoffs? The C’s need him to find his perimeter shots and produce his 10-15 points per game. After a season average of 10.2 PPG, we can only hope that the JET lives up to his reputation as “Mister Fourth Quarter” when it matters the most. Atlanta Hawks v Boston Celtics Could we expect Shavlik Randolph to continue in his relentless intensity on both ends of court? A high level of production in limited minutes could save Kevin Garnett’s body from unnecessary fatigue. (Ed: Defense, rebounding. That’s all I ask for.) Boston Celtics v New Orleans Hornets Jordan Crawford. Like Jeff Green, he needs to be unleashed. We have seen his passing instincts in recent games, but Crawford’s specialty undeniably lies in his scoring abilities. Should Crawford be capable of producing efficiently on offense, his versatility and competitiveness could play a prominent role in this series and give the Celtics another legitimate offensive threat. Chris Wilcox, possibly the most efficient offensive player in the team. All of us are looking forward to #BigWilcoxStyle and his 5-7 points per game. It might not sound like much, but we all know that could be the difference-maker in winning or losing a close game. Should Wilcox put up a big rebounding night against the Knicks (we have seen him do this in spurts throughout the season) , it would definitely be a sight for sore eyes. Boston Herald Media Courtney Lee and Terrence Williams are a pair of former Houston Rockets who could create nightmares for opponents. With his size, T-Will has the ability to match up well with Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton or even Smith. Pitbull Lee, as we all know, wreaks havoc defensively against most guards, and could be a key to shutting down J.R. Smith. Both guys have the ability to knock down treys, (Lee 35.9%, Williams 38.5%) and could possibly give the Celtics that extra 6-8 points per game when the game is on the line. Wild cards – Avery Bradley & Brandon Bass The Celtics’ playoffs success could be ignited by two wild cards in the roster, namely Avery Bradley and Brandon Bass. Both players have been on a roller coaster ride this season, Bradley with a recent shooting slump, and Bass edging back into 2011/12 season form after a tough drought early on. Both players however, have also shown the ability to shine on both ends of the court. Sacramento Kings v Boston Celtics The fact is, the Celtics do not need them to be the best players on the team. KG, Pierce and Green can take care of that. All the Celtics need from Bradley and Bass is consistency, and simply doing what they do best. For Bass, this means keeping up the recent upswing in his production and continue to shoot efficiently. As we have seen in the past, Bass can produce 15-17 points on just 5-7 shots while grabbing 7 rebounds. That, is exactly what we need. The silent, merciless No-Pass Bass who sinks jumper after jumper, and dunks on hapless defenders without mercy.
As for Bradley, it’s all about defense; always has been, and always will be. We need him to destroy who ever he marks and to have them begging for mercy. To thankfully toss the ball away, to do anything to be rid of a defensive pest who is looking to pick their pocket any moment.

Beating the Knicks will not be an easy task. Not this year, at least. But it gives me a great sigh of relief to know that we still have two dependable stars on our side: KG, and the Knick-killer Paul Pierce. This is a test of will. This is a battle of warriors. In the end, age and skill will be a minimal factor in this game. Everything comes down to heart, and who wants it more when push comes to shove. And that, is exactly what we have. The Celtics are fighters who will give it their all and more, when everything is on the line. Most importantly, we are talking about a team that runs on heart and passion. Think about how the team has been torn apart by the player injuries thus far. For a team that has Kevin Garnett? We might be running low on a lot of things, but we will never run out of heart.

Kevin Garnett poster on TD Garden lift
Kevin Garnett poster on TD Garden lift

Heart, and heart alone, will get us through this series. #AussieCeltics


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