We are finally ready for the NBA Playoffs to tip-off and appropriately enough they kick off with the Knicks taking on the Celtics. Make sure you check out our two-part preview from this week, along with our first round predictions and Knicks/Celtics Playoff history.
The New York Knicks are finally opening up the playoffs at Madison Square Garden as first round favorites. They have a golden opportunity to seize early control of the series and maintain their home-court advantage. Tyson Chandler will be back in the starting line-up and Kenyon Martin will be available for major minutes off the bench, as the Knicks will be at full strength outside of Pablo Prigioni who is out with an ankle injury and Amare Stoudemire who isn’t expected to play this series. It is being heavily speculated that Chris Copeland will step into the starting line-up to allow Jason Kidd to continue to work off the bench. Who had Copeland starting the Knicks playoff opener before the season started?
Current Series – 0-0, Game 2 is Tuesday Night at Madison Square Garden with a 8 PM tip-off.
Injury Update – New York - Pablo Prigioni is out with an ankle injury. Amare Stoudemire remains out. Tyson Chandler, Kenyon Martin and Marcus Camby all expected to play. Boston - The Celtics are expected to be at full strength (minus Rajon Rondo and having a banged up Kevin Garnett of course)
Previous Meetings - The Knicks won the season series 3-1
January 7th: Boston – 102 Knicks – 96
January 24th: Knicks – 89 Boston – 86
March 26th: Knicks – 100 Boston – 85
March 31st: Knicks – 108 Boston – 80
What’s At Stake – Home-Court Advantage. The Knicks need to protect Madison Square Garden and cannot squander away the benefit of winning their division by losing Game 1. Boston is a seasoned veteran team who will be more than confident that they can steal one on the road. The Knicks have been shooting the lights out and need to jump out to an early lead, get the crowd going and bury the Celtics before they have a chance to get their confidence going.
Key Matchup – Carmelo Anthony vs. Paul Pierce - They won’t directly be covering each other for most of the series but regardless each player is the reason their team’s respective fan-base has confidence in a series victory. Carmelo is the best player in this series and cannot let a few questionable calls or the Celtics head games throw him off. Pierce has been a Knicks killer and will be chomping at the bit if the Knicks let Boston hang around until the final minutes.