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BOS vs. NYK: Game-by-Game Predictions

Grant RindnerContributor IIIApril 19, 2013

BOS vs. NYK: Game-by-Game Predictions

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    The series that kicks off the 2013 NBA playoffs happens to be one of the most storied and eagerly anticipated matchups of the entire postseason. Fresh off of an Atlantic Division crown, the New York Knicks are looking to prove that they have supplanted the Boston Celtics as Eastern Conference contenders.

    By virtue of a late season 13-game winning streak and the MVP-level play of Carmelo Anthony, New York secured the second seed and with it the right to host the dangerous, but consistently inconsistent, seventh seed Celtics.

    Though New York took the season series 3-1 from Boston, it is worth noting that Anthony shot a mere 35 percent from the floor and 30 percent from three-point range in those four games. He managed 25.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and three assists, but clearly had some trouble with Boston's defensive schemes.

    These are two teams reeling from the effects of injuries, as New York is likely to be without Amar'e Stoudemire and just recently signed Quentin Richardson and Earl Barron to replace Kurt Thomas and Rasheed Wallace down low. Boston is going to war without star point guard Rajon Rondo and key players like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Courtney Lee all coming off of various injuries.

    In a first-round brimming with intriguing matchups, the latest incarnation of the New York-Boston rivalry figures to be one of the most heated and fascinating.

    Let's take a look at what to expect out of each of the possible seven games in the series.

    Statistics accurate as of April 19th, 2013.

Game 1

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    Time: 3:00 p.m. ET, Saturday, 4/20/13 (ABC)

    Madison Square Garden, New York

    The New York Knicks have not hosted a playoff series since they lost to the Toronto Raptors in 2001, back when a first-round series lasted just five games and the Knicks were led by the tandem of Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell.

    New York has been through some rough times since then and it is safe to say that the Knicks' fan base and players will be charged up being the favorite in a series for the first time in a decade.

    The Celtics will put up as valiant of an valiant effort as they can, but after missing significant time down the stretch this season it will take Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett a game to find their playoff legs.

    Expect Carmelo Anthony to be charged up in his first game since earning his first NBA scoring title. Even with Stoudemire out, this will be an uphill battle for Boston in as hostile of an environment as they have played in all season.

    Score prediction: 85-92 New York

Game 2

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    Time: 8:00 p.m. ET, Tuesday, 4/23/13 (TNT)

    Madison Square Garden, New York

    Game 2 is the Celtics' best chance to steal the road game necessary for them to win this series. With the Knicks riding high off of an emotional Game 1 victory and Boston having the opportunity to make some adjustments on both ends of the floor, Doc Rivers' veteran squad has a great chance to earn their second victory at MSG of the 2012-13 season.

    Pierce has always found a way to shine bright under the New York lights, and playing multiple games against Kevin Garnett is surely going to wear on the Knicks' patchwork frontcourt rotation.

    As long as Boston, who ranks fourth in the league in opponents' three-point percentage at 34.2 percent, is able to contain J.R. Smith, Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd from the perimeter, they should be able to handle Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin on the interior.

    The Celtics will need to execute and stress their reworked pass-and-cut offense, but if they can exploit New York's questionable rotations, they can earn this victory.

    Score Prediction: 100-93 Boston

Game 3

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    Time: 8:00 p.m. ET, Friday, 4/26/13 (ESPN)

    TD Garden, Boston

    In the Celtics' first home game since the Boston Marathon tragedy, expect a crowd similar to the one that showed up to the Bruins' contest with the Buffalo Sabres.

    While the Bruins lost that contest, I do not foresee the same fate for Boston. Though the Celtics are 0-2 at TD Garden against New York this season, one of those losses was an 89-86 affair back when Rajon Rondo was healthy, and the other was a 100-85 blowout in which Kevin Garnett and Courtney Lee did not suit up and J.R. Smith dropped 32 points and seven rebounds.

    New York was missing Chandler in that game, but the effects were mitigated by Garnett's absence, and KG's presence should buoy Boston's defense significantly.

    Smith will score plenty but Lee figures to be his primary defender, and with Avery Bradley marking Raymond Felton Boston was forced to stick Jason Terry and Jordan Crawford on him.

    Boston was a good home team all season long, finishing 27-13, and expect them to defend homecourt in an emotional Game 3.

    Score Prediction: 94-104 Boston

Game 4

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    Time: 1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday, 4/28/13 (ABC)

    TD Garden, Boston

    Just like he did against the Miami Heat back in 2012, Carmelo Anthony is more than capable of winning a playoff game by himself. 'Melo's 41-point, six-rebound performance carried New York to a Game 4 victory, and he figures to have at least one breakout game, even against Boston's stingy defense.

    While Jeff Green has the mix of length, strength and athleticism to bother Anthony defensively, he is simply not capable of containing a scorer of Anthony's caliber for an entire playoff series. No one is at this point in his career.

    On the season, Anthony averaged 28.7 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.6 dimes on 44.9 percent shooting from the field and 37.9 percent shooting from three-point range. 

    Anthony has always been the kind of clutch player capable of winning big games on the road, and with Pierce playing more of a facilitator role by necessity, there won't be a player capable of dueling 'Melo to a draw in the way that Pierce has done so many times before.

    Anthony's heroics should set up a 2-2 tie as the scene shifts back to Madison Square Garden.

    Score Prediction: 94-88 New York

Game 5

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    Time: TBD, Wednesday, 5/01/13 (TBD)

    Madison Square Garden, New York

    All season long New York has relied heavily on the three ball, attempting 35.4 percent of their shots from three-point range and making 37.6 percent of those attempts. The common criticism of their offensive philosophy has been that those shots will not go in consistently in the playoffs, but there is no reason they can't catch fire for a game or two.

    With Anthony shooting the three as well as he has been in 2012-13, and players like Raymond Felton, Steve Novak, J.R. Smith and Jason Kidd all capable of making perimeter shots in spades, this Knicks' offense has the capability of stretching out Boston's stalwart defense.

    The Celtics are a strong half-court defensive team but their older roster does not rotate as well as it used to. If the Knicks can move the ball as well as they did early in the season then Boston will have a tough time consistently closing out on the open man.

    I don't anticipate New York's shooting winning them a championship or even this series, but it should put them in a position to move within one win of the second round.

    Score Prediction: 91-103 New York

Game 6

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    Time: TBD, Friday, 05/03/13 (TBD)

    TD Garden, Boston

    With their collective back against the wall, this beleaguered Boston team is going to need to pull out a do-or-die Game 6 at home.

    This team has been strong defensively but we can expect one vintage Celtics defensive performance this series, and if it is going to come at anytime, it will be in Game 6.

    Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee have not always contributed much on the offensive end but both are upper echelon perimeter defenders. Not turning the ball over has been a strength of New York all season—they average just 11.6 giveaways per game—but Felton has struggled with taking care of the basketball, particularly in close, late game scenarios.

    If Boston's backcourt can pressure the New York guards into coughing up the ball and goad J.R. Smith into hoisting some bad shots then they can certainly take New York out of its offensive game plan.

    With Stoudemire's health in question the Knicks have little-to-no interior scoring, so Boston will be able to focus squarely on guarding the wings.

    Add in some inspired play from KG, in what could potentially be his final game in Boston Garden, and this has the makings of a classic Celtics desperation win that pushes this series to a Game 7 conclusion.

    Score Prediction: 77-92 Boston

Game 7

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    Time: TBD, Sunday, 05/05/13 (TBD)

    Madison Square Garden, New York

    There are several first-round matchups that seem capable of going to seven games, but none would bring about a more exciting conclusion than watching these old rivals square off with a trip to the second round on the line.

    After Boston evened the series at 3-3, New York will have the opportunity to regroup in what will be the team's most important home game in a decade.

    The Celtics will come in to New York riding high on confidence and with their defense and offense clicking, but the reality is that there is a ceiling on how good this team can be in the postseason without Rondo. As good as Jeff Green and Paul Pierce can be, they lack that true X-factor like Rondo who can explode for a 15-10-20 line on any given night in the postseason.

    Carmelo Anthony, who is in the midst of the zenith of his career, knows that a loss here would bring back all the doubters and naysayers he worked so hard to quiet with his stellar 2012-13 season, and that will reflect in his Game 7 performance.

    Factor in a fired-up Tyson Chandler and the steady hand of Jason Kidd and this looks like a game that will go down to the wire but will ultimately go to the home squad, giving Boston their first opening round exit of the KG era.

    Score Prediction: 98-94

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