2013 NBA Playoffs Preview and Schedule: Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks

That time NBA players and fans alike salivate for all year is finally here. After 80-plus games and plenty of high jinks and untold drama the league is gearing up for the 2013 NBA Playoffs. Given the stakes and intensity involved, it often feels like a whole different season rears up its head come playoff time. A season 2.0, if you will.

2013 NBA Playoffs
New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony 7 and Boston Celtics power forward Kevin Garnett 5 have words on the court during the second half at Madison Square Garden Boston won 102 96 Debby Wong USA TODAY Sports

To help you navigate through the first-round scenarios, Sports Jerks will be breaking down all of the matchups for you―offering lineups, schedules, and predictions.

Eastern Conference:

Boston Celtics (7) vs. New York Knicks (2)

Schedule:

Game 1 – Sat April 20, Boston at New York, 3 p.m., ABC/R

Game 2 – Tue April 23, Boston at New York, 8 p.m., TNT

Game 3 – Fri April 26, New York at Boston, 8 p.m., ESPN

Game 4 – Sun April 28, New York at Boston, 1 p.m., ABC/R

Game 5 – Wed May 1, Boston at New York, TBD, TBD (if necessary)

Game 6 – Fri May 3, New York at Boston, TBD, TBD (if necessary)

Game 7 – Sun May 5, Boston at New York, TBD, TBD (if necessary)

The Honey Nut Cheerios series will be extremely chippy, especially when considering this Boston team’s penchant for taunting and physical play. With the Carmelo and Garnett strife in their recent history, expect this to be a hard fought first round.

The last time the two teams met in the postseason, Boston swept the Knickerbockers with everything but a broom. But that was in 2011, and there’s been a major reversal in talents. The Knicks, though heavily reliant on the three ball, are now the better team and have beaten Boston three times this year. In Boston’s favor, their only victory came without Rondo, which is how this series will be play out as well.

In the absence of the All-Star point guard, Paul Pierce has shot the ball better against the Knicks. In the three losses, he went 17 of 41. In Boston’s sole victory he shot 10 of 18—a 15 percent difference. As one of Boston’s few consistent offensive weapons a lot of the Celtics’ success will ride on Paul’s aging shoulders. Though Boston has X-factors like Jeff Green and Jason Terry, they’ve been very inconsistent against the Knicks who have an underrated defense. Green, for example, has gone off for 19 and 27 points against the Knicks this season. But also had two extremely lackluster performances where he only posted nine and 16 points.

With Garnett as its anchor and Doc Rivers its navigational mind, the Boston defense will be as consistent as it’s ever been, even against an offensive-minded New York team. This year, New York has averaged about two points less (or 98.0 PPG instead of 100.0 PPG) than their regular average against Boston. But it’s tough to believe that with an 18th-ranked offense Boston will find the firepower necessary to down New York.

They’ve done a fairly good job of keeping Carmelo Anthony in check―holding him to 25.3 PPG, 35.0 FG%, and 7.5 RPG―but they’ve had a hard time of shutting down New York as a unit. In the four regular season matchups, Boston has been able to keep the Knicks under 100 points twice, but ended up winning only one of those games.

Though history wise, the Boston Celtics have proven to be the better team, this matchup will come down to age and Melo’s unmatched ability to put the ball in the cylinder. With Tyson Chandler, who is now 100%, a lethal second scoring option in J.R. Smith, and a better cast, the Knicks will win their first playoff series in 13 years.

Outcome:

New York Knicks 4-2 Boston Celtics

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