The Pick: New York in Seven
New York had a very up-and-down offseason after being eliminated handily by Miami in the first round of 2011-12.
They watched Landry Fields and point guard Jeremy Lin leave but replaced them with a slew of veterans and a steal in Ronnie Brewer. The Knicks picked up valuable backups in Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby and brought back Raymond Felton to run the point.
The question is whether they can overcome their starters lack of meshing. If Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony aren't productive together, then this seeding is far too high. Mike Woodson, in his first full season with New York, should be able to figure something out, and that is what I am banking on.
The Knicks' new neighbors in Brooklyn are sure to have a bumpy time early in 2012-13. They will need to adjust to a new offensive star in Joe Johnson, and a largely untested bench. The Nets have a dynamic starting five and are sure to put up serious point totals during the regular season.
The fifth seed seems like a safe prediction for a team that can be equal parts great and terrible, especially on the defensive end. They will also be playing in a very tough division that will see three or four playoff teams come out of it.
The matchup the country wants to see in the Eastern Conference may be Boston and Miami, but this one is a close second.
Two teams from one of the world's largest markets battling each other in the postseason certainly moves the needle. Add in the thrill of one team in a brand new arena and the offensive firepower each squad brings to the table, and you have an instant classic.
The Knicks have more experience playing together as well as Game 7 on their home floor; therefore, I like them to emerge from this tightly contested series.