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Knicks and Celtics meet in an intriguing first round playoff matchup

The NBA’s Atlantic division has three teams taking part in the playoffs. The New York Knicks won the division and are seeded No. 2 in the Eastern Conference playoffs, while the Brooklyn Nets are seeded No. 4 and the Boston Celtics No.7.

Brooklyn will face the Chicago Bulls in the first round, but the series people on the East Coast will be focusing on is the Celtics vs. the Knicks. These two storied franchises have played against one another on 13 occasions in the postseason. The most recent matchup between the two was in 2011, when Boston eliminated New York in the first round with a convincing 4-0 sweep.

However, over the past two seasons, the Knicks have improved, while the Celtics become significantly weaker.

During the regular season, the Knicks, led by NBA scoring leader Carmelo Anthony defeated the Celtics three of the four times they met head to head. However, both teams know the playoffs are not the same as the regular season.

Boston enters the postseason without knowing what the future holds for veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett on the court. The Celtics this season were devastated by injury losing their starting point guard Rajon Rondo to an ACL tear. At the time of his injury, Rondo was leading the league in assists and averaging over 17 points per game.

However, before calling the series a lopsided walk in the park for New York, the Knicks have their vulnerabilities as well. Carmelo Anthony can carry them offensively, but if Tyson Chandler their big man is not healthy, the Knicks could suffer down low against Garnett and the Knicks have not had great play from their point guard position.

The Knicks on paper should make it to the second round, but with the experience of Pierce and Garnett and the coaching savvy of Doc Rivers, no one can count the Celtics out.

In the backcourt, both teams have had their problems this season. Avery Bradley has not played well for Boston against New York and Pierce has lost a step, even though he will be tough on the Knicks’ guards in this series. Iman Shumpert will control the backcourt for the Knicks until the team’s sixth man, J.R. Smith comes off the bench.

Down low, there will be a battle between Chandler and Garnett and Jeff Green and Anthony. The key down low for Boston is to take Anthony out of his comfort zone. Tough man to man in your face defense against the Knicks forward will help do that.

Garnett will have the advantage over Chandler down low in this matchup as Chandler has a lingering injury to a bulging disc.

On the sideline, the Celtics will have the advantage as Rivers has more playoff experience than his counterpart Mike Woodson.

The series should be very physical with the team scoring in the 80s and 90s each game. Anthony’s scoring ability will be the big difference in this first round matchup.

In the end, the Knicks will win in six games and move on to the second round.

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