The New York Knicks are a better team than they were in October at the beginning of the National Basketball Association season, and, primarily due to health, and, perhaps age, the Boston Celtics aren’t as good as they were at the beginning of the season. Still, this gap has not closed enough for the Knicks to be able to defeat the Boston Celtics in a seven-game series.
In the past two years, both Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony have led their teams to big wins in the Western Conference Finals, but not eventually lost the series. Two years ago, Carmelo Anthony averaged over 29 points per game against the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, including four games of over 30 points, but the Denver Nuggets lost the series, 4-2. Stoudemire met the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals last year, and dominated game three with a career-playoff high 42 points, and 11 rebounds. Stoudemire and the Phoenix Suns eventually lost to the Lakers as well, 4-2.
The Boston Celtics have a different approach from the New York Knicks. Whereas the Knicks were second in the NBA in scoring at 106.5 in the 2010-2011 season, the Celtics were 23rd, scoring 10 points less at 96.5. Defensively, however, the Celtics led the league in least points allowed, with 91.1. The Knicks were 28th in the league, allowing 105.7 points per game.
A balanced Celtics attack, combined with the Knicks inability to get consistent stops on the defensive end, will ultimately lead to their downfall. Omitting the last game of the season that saw Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo all sat, the Celtics won the first three games these teams played this season. Stoudemire averaged 27,3 points for the Knicks against the Celtics in those three games, but Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett both averaged 20+ in those three games, with 26.0 and 22.7, respectively. If Stoudemire and Anthony can step up defensively and slow down Garnett and Pierce, this would increase the chances the Knicks have of winning the series. The Knicks may also need to have Stoudemire play someone else instead of Garnett, who has a size advantage.
The Celtics also thrive in close games. While the New York Knicks possess Chauncey Billups, also known as Mr. Big Shot, the Celtics have Paul Pierce, who also boasts an NBA Finals MVP Award and has arguably hit bigger shots than Billups. Carmelo Anthony has been clutch in the big situation as well, but hasn’t been on the big stage of the NBA Finals like Billups and Pierce.
So it says here that the Knicks will be competitive in all games of this series, but, in the end, the defensive effort of the Celtics will slow the Knicks. In the closing minutes, the Celtics will be able to get clutch baskets from Pierce, Allen, and Garnett, in what may be the final championship run of the Boston Big Three.