Many view this series as being one of the most likely to end in an upset.
In order to come to that conclusion, we have to look past the surface and into the nuts and bolts of each team.
The match-ups, playing style, and even coaching technique tells me that the Celtics should not have too much of a problem dispatching New York. If this were the Heat, or even Orlando, I would probably feel different, but it is not.
Let's take a look at the starters first.
Ray Allen vs. Landry Fields
Individually, no comparison here. Landry's job is to neutralize Allen in the half-court sets. In a way, if the Knicks can find a way to take Allen away, they could win this. You have to give the big edge to Allen.
What Allen won't get in the half court, Rondo will make sure he gets in transition.
Chauncey Billups vs. Rajon Rondo
Billups is the wily veteran, but Rondo sets the tone for most of what Boston does on both sides of the ball.
Rondo's defense and play-making ability will make him a thorn in the Knicks' side, as he's shown in their previous meetings.
Billups must counteract that by making Rondo a scorer, and not turning the ball over. Rondo cannot stray on defense, as Billups will make you pay with the three ball.
The Knicks need for Billups to be a 20-plus scorer in this series to have a chance.
Edge to Rondo here.
Pierce is as clutch as they come, and he is a very under-rated defender. He can play in the post and hurt you from outside as well.
The Knicks really have no one that can give Pierce a hard time on defense.
Anthony can step up his game in that area in spurts, but can't do it all game long. Bill Walker is their best option defensively, but he comes off the bench. I wouldn't be surprised to see his minutes go up to guard Pierce.
Melo will not only have to get through Pierce.
Boston's team-oriented defense will try to smother him as soon as he puts the ball on the floor.
KG and Rondo will react quickly when Melo tries to get to the basket, and Melo is going to have to recognize it and pass to open three-point shooters.
Anthony is going to have to put up big numbers, and also rebound well, for the Knicks to have a chance.
He can't get caught with the ball stuck in his hands too often, as that will slow down the offense.
Kevin Garnett vs. Amar'e Stoudemire
Amar'e has to win this match-up for the Knicks to have a chance.
Since Melo's arrival, he has looked more out of sorts than any other Knick.
He will have to be more of a low post presence to bother Boston. They will live with his 15 to 18 foot jumpers, and make him a non-factor on the boards.
Garnett torched the Knicks from the post this year because they had no one with the length to match up with him. New York has to make KG the jump shooter he has now become, and keep him off the boards.
They have to make KG play one-on-one post defense against Amar'e so he can't roam.
Slight edge to Garnett, since Amar'e is not 100% acclimated to his new team.
Nenad Kristic vs. Jared Jeffries
Jeffries' only value is as a defender and rebounder. The extent to which he does that will determine how the Knicks match up.
They would like to match him up against Garnett to keep Amar'e out of foul trouble.
Kristic can cause problems because of his length, and because he can hit the mid-range jumper. He is not a great defender, but the Knicks have had problems with teams and players that are long.
Slight edge to Kristic.
Jeff Green, Delonte West, and Big Baby Davis will make their presence felt in this series.
Here is where Boston can win this series easily. Boston wants to turn this series into a physical half-court battle that the Knicks can't win.
Their bench is built to do that.
With the Knicks' bench, it is hit or miss—many times all or nothing.
Toney Douglas is a great defender, but if his three-point shot is not falling, he becomes a liability. Shawne Williams is a great three-point shooter, but not a good defender.
Bill Walker is a good defender, rebounder, and loves the three as well. He and Anthony Carter are the only two bench players that would not mind if this turned into a half court war.
The Celtics' bench is more polished and battle-tested than the Knicks' bench. That's really all there is to it.
Edge, ultimately, to Boston
No comparison here.
Doc Rivers' coaching style has produced a championship, and is geared towards the playoffs. His style will defeat that of the Knicks every time.
Overall, the match-ups don't favor the Knicks.
They will have to get up and down the court and turn this into a track meet if they want to win. They will also have to hit at least 40 percent of their threes to have a chance.
It looks like Boston in five.
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