Celtics Players and What to Watch For:
Today at 3pm the New York Knicks will begin their journey on a road to a hopeful Championship run. The first obstacle for the Knicks is the dreaded Boston Celtics who are not as good as the old Celtics, but still playoff tested and dangerous.
Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jeff Green are now the Celtics nucleus. Pierce is not the same player he once was, but if you give him the chance with time on the clock and the ball in his hands he will put a dagger in your heart. The Knicks must build a comfortable lead on the vulnerable Celtics and not give Paul that chance to break their hearts.
KG is still a fierce competitor. He will get under everyone’s skin and try to intimidate Melo and provoke all Knicks players, especially Melo into a technical foul. His illegal screens are legendary and his big game play has been a big part of his persona. If the Knicks want to win this game and this series, keeping KG under wraps and out of Melo’s ear will be pivotal in the Knicks playoff run.
Jeff Green is the wild card for me. He has a skill set that is off the charts, but has been inconsistent this year. Green can give teams fits with his outside shooting and his ability to attack the basket. It will be important for Shump, Copeland and whoever has the task to blanket Jeff Green to keep him from going on a playoff tear.
Another wildcard is Jason Terry and Avery Bradley. Bradley has unbelievable defensive skills. He covers players aggressively and will cause many problems for Knicks guards. Terry is a veteran championship player. He has ice water in his veins and can hurt with his mid range jumper and 3-point shooting. He clearly is not the same player he was with the Mavericks, but still someone to watch for and contain.
The Knicks Players and Plan:
The Knicks are one of the deepest teams in the league when healthy. With the return of Kenyon Martin and Tyson Chandler, the Knicks defense should be solidified with a full a 48 minutes of coverage. These 2 guys are the keys to the Knicks defense, so their health and durability is paramount in this series. If not, Marcus Camby and the fan favorite Earl Barron will be pressed into action. I have complete confidence in both players.
Melo and J.R. Smith are the Batman and Robin of this years Knicks team. Melo has to stay under control and not let anyone get under his skin this series and the entire playoffs. Teams will without question, try to get Melo off his game with physical play and mind games. He must block this entirely out and be who he is, MELO! Carmelo must move the ball with ease and make quick decisions instead of holding the ball and making the offense stagnant.
J.R. Smith is the Robin to this offense; His game has changed completely, as he now looks for better shots, taking what the defense gives him and tries to get to the basket instead of settling for long jumpers. J.R. has become a very important part of this team since Amar’e has gone down with injuries. If he can do these things then the Knicks will be heavy favorites to get to the ECF.
Felton, Kidd, Copeland, and Novak are the role players that will put the Knicks over the top this series. All year the role players have stepped up and given the Knicks what they needed on a nightly basis. Felton has had an up and down year, but has run the team the way I expected. During the 13-game winning-streak, Raymond has turned it on late in the 4th quarter with pushing of the ball and his penetration to the basket.
Kidd is the smartest player on the team. When his minutes are controlled he gives you rebounding and timely 3-point shooting that adds heartburn to opponents’ defenses. His defending late in games has been a HUGE underrated element of his game this year.
Chris Copeland has moved past Steve Novak on the depth chart as the 3rd option. Cope is a “Melo Lite” on the court. He can hit the 3, drive to the basket and has a plethora of offensive moves. Defensively he is a work in progress, but has gotten a lot better in recent weeks. Cope is a player that the Knicks should re-sign next year. He can become an important part of this team for the next 2 years. Hopefully he has not played himself into a bigger contract that the Knicks cannot afford.
Steve Novak has been a disappointment this year, however when he catch’s fire it usually leads to a Knicks victory. Steve can shoot the lights out that is for sure. When he is open it is almost automatic, but the problem with Steve is that he is incredibly one-dimensional and often gets lost on the court. This is half Steve’s fault and half of Woody’s fault. Steve needs the chance to get open shots and must be worked into the offense.
Overall, the Knicks have a wonderful chance to take this series. I am not here to make predictions, but let me say this, the first team to win 4 games will advance to the second round and one step further to their ultimate goal. I try to make things simple in my mindset, it’s that simple folks! All I want is the Knicks to win 4 games in this series. If you look at it that way it makes things a lot simpler. I don’t care if takes 4,5,6, or 7 games I just want them to advance. The Knicks should not listen to the media and they should not take the Celtics lightly. If the Knicks do all these things they should win this series and advance to the 2nd round of the NBA playoffs.
Peter A – Knickswag