Due to a lack of a bonafide center, Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni will have to do a lot of shuffling with his undersized squad. This should mean that Knicks fans will be treated to an up-and-down brand of basketball. But considering that this is the playoffs, Boston will slow the pace down and force D’Antoni’s players into more half-court sets than they are accustomed to. Amar’e Stoudemire will have to split his time between playing center and power forward.
Not that Stoudemire hasn’t been doing so already.
Most likely, Stoudemire will play center on offense and power forward on defense, as guarding Shaquille O’Neal and Nenad Kristic will be up to the committee of Jared Jeffries, Shelden Williams and Ronny Turiaf in order to keep Stoudemire out of foul trouble.
It will not be a good sign if Jared Jeffries, who is a bit thin to play center, is forced to play center. This will only mean that Stoudemire is in foul trouble. Besides exposing New York’s lack of depth, Jeffries playing the five is sure to stifle his subpar scoring production.
Boston’s power forward plethora of Kevin Garnett, Glen Davis and Troy Murphy is sure to overwhelm even the better teams in the NBA, not to mention the Knicks.
Jeffries should earn his keep with strong defensive play against Garnett.
Garnett is getting up there in age, but at this point of his career the only thing that will keep him from partaking in the Celtics championship run is injury.
As Boston’s leading rebounder and third leading scorer, Garnett’s play is of prime importance to the success of the Celtics, however New York shouldn’t let its guard down since Davis and Murphy are high quality backups and sure starters on most other teams in the league.
To show how much depth the Celtics have, Murphy, who has been playing sparingly this season, just a season ago averaged 14.6 PPG and 10.2 RPG for the Indiana Pacers. Plus, the Celtics’ Jeff Green plays both forward spots and is averaging 9.8 PPG since coming over from Oklahoma City Thunder.
Considering that except Stoudemire, none of the Knicks power forwards (or centers) average more than 4.2 PPG and 3.4 RPG, the Knicks will have to show stellar skill in order to even have a fighting chance against the Celtics. Maybe Stoudemire can average 40 points every game of the playoffs, but somehow I don’t think even that will help.