(Long Island, N.Y.) The Big Three versus the Dynamic Duo. Perhaps that will be one of the tags taken from the opening round playoff matchup between the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics that begins Sunday evening. These teams have been going at it tooth and nail for decades and with the recent resurgence at Madison Square Garden, perhaps the Knicks can once again hold up their end of the bargain.
They began that by qualifying for the NBA playoffs for the first time in seven years and now will face their divisional rivals again in the postseason. The last time these two faced off when the money was on the table, you may ask yourself? Some of us may feel old being reminded, but that would be all the way back in 1990 when a Patrick Ewing-led Knick squad ousted Larry Bird’s crew in a deciding fifth game of the opening round at the old Boston Garden, breaking a 26-game losing streak at the quant arena known for its parquet floor.
The TD Garden is now hosting Celtic games and the Knicks have not fared much better there, last celebrating a win there in November 2006. All of that can be erased with at least a split on the road in the first two games of the series. Although a tough task, indeed, the Knicks got hot at the right time towards the end of the regular season and the pair of Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony have looked comfortable with one another after a rough period of acclimation.
Breaking it down, things will have to go right with a few lucky bounces for the Knicks to take care of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and company.
Rajon Rondo has proven that he is more than just the guy to feed the ball to one of the Big Three and can carry the offense on his back. His youth is an advantage over Chauncey Billups, but the veteran ‘one’ guard has so much playoff experience and savvy. If Billups is one hundred percent healthy, then this is a push. But with the nagging leg injuries, Boston gets the advantage, albeit a small one. (EDGE – CELTICS)
No comparison. Ray Allen has been there, done that while Landry Fields is merely a rookie who had a productive first season in the league. (EDGE – CELTICS)
It is times like this why Donnie Walsh went out and acquired a player like Anthony. His ‘money shot’ ability very well may come into play right off the bat in this series, and Melo wants the ball in crunch time. Even with that said, Pierce is a warrior and makes this one a tough call, but the benefit of the doubt goes to Melo. (EDGE – KNICKS)
The big boys and leaders in both locker rooms, KG and Amar’e will make this a great one to watch on the inside. Either one can take over a game and be the hero, and postseason experience is basically a wash. When in doubt, count the rings and Garnett wins that battle. (EDGE – CELTICS)
The weak spot in both cities, for sure. A few years ago, one would have to be mad to say that about either Shaquille O’Neal or Jermaine O’Neal. But time has taken its toll on both and their dominant days are long in the past. The Knicks counter with a two-headed monster of Shelden Williams and Ronny Turiaf, not exactly Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain. Williams had a few moments and can be a real positive for the Knicks if he can take advantage of an opportunity. Not by much, but the wild card here gives New York a very slight advantage. (EDGE – KNICKS)
If the Knicks battle hard here and lose to the better team, their rebuilding does not take much of a hit. They had a good season overall and the roster turnaround by Walsh is more important than anything right now. On the other hand, Boston needs to win this series if they have any chance to see another title before Father Time plays too big of a hand in it.
Experience goes a long way in the playoffs and that will be the difference here. Even if the Knicks can steal a game somewhere and take it to the limit, having home court will be too much to overcome.
CELTICS IN 6 GAMES