For the third year in a row, the Knicks have made the playoffs, but for the first time in seemingly forever, they go in as a favorite. After winning the Atlantic Division and capturing the two seed, the Knicks have a favorable path to the Eastern Conference Finals.
On top of that, the Knicks will be out for revenge, as the Celtics bounced them from the playoffs two years ago in Carmelo Anthony's first season in New York. After years of playoff shortcomings, Melo realizes that it's now-or-never with this Knicks squad, a veteran group that stormed through the regular season with gusto.
For Boston, they're essentially playing with house money. With Ray Allen's departure in the off-season, the "Big Three" are no more. For the second consecutive season, Kevin Garnett's name was a hot topic at the trade deadline, but Danny Ainge stayed pat, trying to squeeze one final run out of his veteran-laden team. The C's, like the Knicks, have coped with their fair share of injuries all season, most notably to All-Star guard Rajon Rondo, who tore his ACL and is out for the remainder of the season.
Since Rondo's injury, the Celtics have gotten big contributions from Jeff Green, who has returned from his heart issues a year ago to remind everybody why he was the fifth overall pick in the 2007 Draft. He really burst onto the scene with a 43-point effort against the Heat on March 18th, a game that saw him completely take over the game throughout the first half. The 6'9 forward is a better shooter than given credit for (38.5% from behind the arc), and his lankiness creates defensive match-up issues.