New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics: Preview, Predictions, More for Christmas Day
The Boston Celtics and New York Knicks will headline the the opening of the 2011-12 NBA season on Christmas Day.
There are some very interesting changes to both rosters from last year, and the outlook for each team has changed significantly since the lockout ended and the league reopened shop.
One of these teams is looking to make a rise in the standings while the other will be battling to keep its spot near the top.
This marquee matchup is an excellent one to get the campaign started the right way.
Key Additions and Losses for Each Team
Additions for Knicks: Signed C Tyson Chandler, PG Mike Bibby, PG Baron Davis, G/F Steve Novak; Re-signed F Jared Jeffries
Subtractions for Knicks: Waived PG Chauncey Billups (amnesty); F Shawne Williams (Nets), PF Shelden Williams (Nets), SG Roger Mason, Jr. (Wizards), PG Anthony Carter (Raptors), F Derrick Brown (Bobcats); Traded Ronny Turiaf (Wizards).
Additions for Celtics: Traded for PF Brandon Bass, PG Keyon Dooling; Re-signed G/F Sasha Pavlovic; signed F/C Chris Wilcox, G/F Marquis Daniels
Subtractions for Celtics: Traded Glen Davis (Magic); F Jeff Green (heart, out for season); C Nenad Krstic (Russia), PG Delonte West (Mavericks).
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Battle: Rajon Rondo vs. Toney Douglas
There's no question that Rondo is the better of the two players here, but his style of play is the polar opposite from what Douglas brings to the table.
It's going to be tough for Douglas to keep up with Rondo at the defensive end, and he's certainly going to have his hands full in an effort to slow down Rondo facilitating the flow of the game.
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Battle: Ray Allen vs. Landry Fields
Allen continues to play at a high level despite another year tacked onto his career, and Fields is going to have his hands full attempting to defend the veteran who loves to come off screens and let it fly.
It's possible that rookie Iman Shumpert eats into Fields' playing time if the latter has a tough time keeping up with Allen, but it's going to be tough to slow Boston's shooter down no matter who is on him considering his quick shot release.
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Battle: Carmelo Anthony vs. Paul Pierce/Marquis Daniels
This is one of the more intriguing matchups of the affair, as each small forward will be looking to assert himself as a scoring force as soon as the season tips off.
If Anthony is really committed to becoming a better defender, he'll have to show it on Pierce in order to slow him down.
Conversely, Pierce will be looking to prove that people shouldn't be talking as if the Celtics are ready to concede anything just yet.
NOTE: Pierce is dealing with a bone bruise in his heel and his status for the opening game is in question. If he sits, Marquis Daniels will start in his place and will have an unbelievably tough time attempting to keep up with Anthony.
If Daniels starts, it also thins out the Celtics bench considerably and will put more onus on Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to produce.
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Battle: Kevin Garnett vs. Amar'e Stoudemire
Could this be the matchup of the day at any position across all five contests scheduled? Absolutely.
There will be a plethora of trash talk readily on display, and the two big men will be looking to show that each is capable of leading his respective team on a sustained playoff push.
There will be a fiery intensity between the two each time they go head to head throughout the 48 minutes.
Battle: Tyson Chandler vs. Jermaine O'Neal
Chandler is going to have his way with whoever the Celtics play in the middle, whether it's O'Neal, Chris Wilcox, Brandon Bass or even Greg Stiemsma, and the newest member of the Knicks is licking his chops for opening night.
The Celtics have a serious size problem beneath the basket, and it wouldn't be all that surprising to see Garnett spend time defending Chandler if the big man establishes himself in the paint early and often.
What to Watch
No matter what snazzy nickname fans want to give the Knicks' new front line, all eyes will be on these three guys in their first season playing together.
It will be extraordinarily interesting to see how the three can build chemistry in a shortened offseason and as the season progresses.
There are very high expectations being placed on this team despite that the group yet to play a game that counts in the standings.
That type of pressure isn't going to suddenly subside in the New York market.
The Celtics have really challenged some teams with the commitment to focus at the defensive end, but the Knicks will be looking to make a statement on opening night.
All three players know what they are facing, and with the first game of a highly anticipated season set to go down at Madison Square Garden, the energy in the building will be absolutely unbelievable.
Look for New York to maintain a ferocity throughout the action and send a strong statement to the league with a memorable performance.
Final: New York 93, Boston 80