Breaking down the first round matchup between the Knicks and Celtics

#7 Boston Celtics (41-40) vs. #2 New York Knicks (54-28)

Coaches: Doc Rivers vs Mike Woodson

Arenas: Madison Square Garden (New York) and TD Garden (Boston)

Overall Team Statistics:

Boston: 96.5 PPG (18th), 39.3 RPG (29th), 22.8 APG (12th), 96.7 PAPG (12th), .465 FG% (6th), .358 3P% (15th), .776 FT% (6th), 101.1 OFF EFF (20th), 100.4 DEF EFF (6th), -0.5 Turnover Differential (11th)

New York: 100.0 PPG (11th), 40.6 RPG (26th), 19.3 APG (30th), 95.7 PAPG (7th), .448 FG% (18th), .376 3P% (4th), .759 FT% (13th), 108.6 OFF EFF (3rd), 103.5 DEF EFF (17th), -2.9 Turnover Differential (1st)

Starting Lineups:

Boston:

PG: Avery Bradley- 9.2 PPG, 2.1 APG, 1.3 STLPG, .402 FG%, .317 3P%, .755 FT%, 8.9 PER

SG: Paul Pierce- 18.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 4.8 APG, .436 FG%, .380 3P%, .787 FT%, 19.1 PER

SF: Jeff Green- 12.8 PPG, 3.9 RPG, .466 FG%, .385 3P%, .808 FT%, 15.0 PER

PF: Brandon Bass- 8.7 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 0.8 BLKPG, .486 FG%, .860 FT%, 12.4 PER

C: Kevin Garnett: 14.8 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 0.9 BLKPG, .496 FG%, .786 FT%, 19.2 PER

New York:

PG: Pablo Prigioni- 3.5 PPG, 3.0 APG, .455 FG%, .396 3P%, .880 FT%, 13.0 PER

SG: Raymond Felton- 13.9 PPG, 5.5 APG, 1.4 STLPG, .427 FG%, .360 3P%, .789 FT%, 15.2 PER

SF: Iman Shumpert- 6.8 PPG, 3.0 RPG, .396 FG%, .402 3P%, .776 FT%, 11.7 PER

PF: Carmelo Anthony- 28.7 PPG, 6.9 RPG, .449 FG%, .379 3P%, .830 FT%, 24.8 PER

C: Tyson Chandler- 10.4 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 1.1 BLKPG, .638 FG%, .694 FT%, 18.9 PER

Bench:

Boston:

PG: Jason Terry- 10.1 PPG, .434 FG%, .372 3P%, .870 FT%, 12.8 PER

SG: Courtney Lee- 7.8 PPG, 1.1 STLPG, .464 FG%, .372 3P%, .861 FT%, 11.7 PER

SG: Jordan Crawford- 9.1 PPG, 2.5 APG, .415 FG%, .320 3P%, .811 FT%, 12.0 PER

New York:

G: Jason Kidd- 6.0 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.6 STLPG, .372 FG%, .351 3P%, 13.5 PER

G: J.R. Smith- 18.1 PPG, 5.3 RPG, .422 FG%, .356 3P%, .762 FT%, 17.7 PER

F: Steve Novak- 6.6 PPG, .425 3P%, (1.8 of 4.3 3PPG), 11.3 PER

F: Chris Copeland- 8.7 PPG, .479 FG%, .421 3P%, 16.9 PER

PF/C: Kenyon Martin- 7.2 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 0.9 BLKPG, .602 FG%, 13.9 PER

Schedule:

Game 1: Saturday, April 20th @ Madison Square Garden, NYC, 3:00PM on ABC

Game 2: Tuesday, April 23rd @ Madison Square Garden, NYC, 8:00PM on TNT

Game 3: Friday, April 26th @ TD Garden, Boston, 8:00PM on ESPN

Game 4: Sunday, April 28th @ TD Garden, Boston, 1:00PM on ABC

Game 5: Wednesday, May 1st @ Madison Square Garden, NYC, TBA (if necessary)

Game 6: Friday, May 3rd @ TD Garden, Boston, TBA (if necessary)

Game 7: Sunday, May 5th @ Madison Square Garden, NYC, TBA (if necessary)

Analysis: The New York Knicks, coming off their best season in 16 years and their first division title  since 1994, are now searching for their first playoff series victory since 2000. They meet their arch nemesis the Boston Celtics in the first round. The C’s swept the Knicks in the same situation just two years ago, but they’re coming off their worst season since Kevin Garnett arrived in Beantown.

No Rajon Rondo, but the Knicks can’t get too cocky in this series, as Paul Pierce has a history against these Knicks and Garnett is the master of intimidation and getting into players like Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith’s heads.

Still, when you look at the facts, the Knicks look much stronger than the Celtics do. Their bench is laughably better than Boston’s, and they have the scoring champion and the best player in the series on their side.

Doc Rivers’ Celtics are still pesky and can be a thorn in New York’s side and could easily give them a fight to the finish, but I still like the Knicks moving on to the second round.

Prediction: New York in 5.

Soon, I’ll have my full predictions for the first round of the NBA playoffs.

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