This is a classic offense vs. defense matchup that should be fascinating to watch...let's look at the matchups position by position.
1. POINT GUARD
Rajon Rondo vs. Chauncey Billups
Rondo has not played well down the stretch. His weakness is shooting and so, Chauncey needs to play loose on him. With Rondo's strength, speed and vision, he can beat Chauncey inside, and tire him out. But playing loose D on Rondo will allow Chauncey to hang in there, and on offense, Chauncey can post up Rondo, and sink the big shot as we all know. Chauncey Billups' play may be the key to this series. If he is healthy, able to run, and keep the ball moving. If he's playing at the top of his game, circa 2009, the Knicks will have a chance.
2. SHOOTING GUARD
Ray Allen vs. Landry Fields
Ouch. Allen's shooting is great and Fields is a rookie. But between Fields and Toney Douglas, they can tire Allen out when he covers them on defense. Movement will be the key. Keep moving, keep making him run. Then you've got a shot. Allen also is a streak shooter, that can be both good and bad for the Knicks, but all told, this is the worst matchup for the Knicks.
3. SMALL FORWARD
Paul Pierce vs. Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony has played great lately, proving me (somewhat) wrong in my assessment of his defensive play. If he can keep it up vs. PP, he can help his team immensely. A step back (literally) on defense can doom the Knicks to a quick exit. Playing tight defense on PP is important, and though you risk tiring Carmelo out, you must take that risk. Pierce can kill the Knicks with his shot, and it will take a top-notch effort by Carmelo to stop him. On offense, again, movement is the key. Iso plays will play into the Celtic's hands. NO NO on that. Knicks must move the ball around. Carmelo must stay away from his signature plays. Tough to do.
4. POWER FORWARD
Kevin Garnett vs. Amare Stoudemire
Amare Stoudemire is much younger than Kevin Garnett. He can beat Garnett on the offensive end and play him even on defense, but can is not a done deal kind of word. Remember Garnett is still a defensive force. Again, we come down to age and speed/movement as the Knick's asset. Amare must take the ball to the basket and challenge Garnett, hopefully getting him into foul trouble. On defense, Amare must give 100% effort and BLOCK OUT Garnett. Otherwise, the Knicks will have no chance. Amare must come close to Garnett in rebounding in this series for the Knicks to have a good chance to upset.
Jermaine O’Neal vs. Ronny Turiaf
Double ouch. The Knicks have Turiaf , Shelden Williams, and Jared Jeffries at this position. The Celtics have the O'Neal brothers- Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal. Which would you rather have? The O'Neal's health has not been great, so it is possible for something good to happen here for the Knicks, but don't count on it. If the celtics get anything from Shaq, it will destroy the Knicks chances more than anything else.
Shaquille O’Neal, Glen Davis, Nenad Krstic, Jeff Green, Carlos Arroyo, Delonte West vs. Toney Douglas, Anthony Carter, Shelden Williams, Jared Jeffries, Shawne Williams, Bill Walker.
Baby Davis is a tough player for the Knciks to handle. But Douglas is a player that will be tough for the Celtics to handle. The difference is that Davis has the experience, while Douglas has never been in a playoff game.Shawne Williams hasnot played well lately, and the 3-point shot has not been sinking as it did earlier in the season. Carter could play a difference here, and should get BIG minutes as Billups' backup, because he has playoff experience, and can play well here. I would love to see him get 18 minutes a game at PG, and let Douglas play the two position. Green hasn't set the world on fire since coming from Oklahoma, but Krstic is another big man that may cause the Knicks trouble. Too many big men for the Knicks to stop here.
Doc Rivers vs. Mike D’Antoni
Oh Dear. Rivers has won a championship. D’Antoni has won the title of worst defensive coach of the year. If Rivers can get the Celtics to snap out of their recent funk, this won't even be close. Meanwhile D'Antoni can frustrate the Celtics if he can get his team to keep moving the ball and run the Celtics off the court. Very difficult in the playoffs. The Celtics will not let the Knicks run, but they can still move the ball around and play up-tempo. The slower the Knicks move, the less chance they have.
Total Edge= BOSTON 4-0-3
The Knicks’ rebounding and defense is not good enough without a top-notch Center. But they can hang in there and get close, if they each put in 100% effort on every single possession. Hustle will be the key. If the Knicks can out play and out hustle the Celtics, they have a chance to upset. The Knicks however, have been inconsistent and not tough mentally throughout the season. Whereas the Celtics are as tough as they come.
Secondly, the Knicks must block out and rebound well. They won't out-rebound the Celtics, but if they can come close, they can make things interesting. They haven't shown any ability to do this well, at all, however, outside of Carmelo Anthony.
Third, they must run and tire the Celtics out, but the playoffs are a difficult time for any team to run, and the Knicks have been inconsistent in their offensive philosophy as it is. Too many questions...
Game 1 at BOS: Celtics
Game 2 at BOS: Celtics
Game 3 at NY: Knicks
Game 4 at NY: Knicks
Game 5 at BOS: Celtics
If the Knicks win, it will have to be in six, because game seven at Boston will be all Celtics. They would have to take one game at Boston and sweep in NY. That's the only way they can make it happen, and I don't see it. In the end, I think the Celtics big men will just be too much for the Knicks. Rebounding, the Knick's Achilles heel, will be their undoing.
Game 6 at NY: Celtics
Final: Boston 4-2