The first series in this year’s NBA Playoffs tipped off in New York on Saturday, and if it’s any early indication of what’s in store across the board, you’d better buckle up. Both the Celtics and Knicks are fighting from different places of desperation but both brought it all on Saturday in Game 1 of their series against each other.
For the Celtics, the story is not only about Rajon Rondo and what they can do without him, it’s more about Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce going on one last ride with Doc Rivers as once dominant duo have been cast off to the side after a rough season. But due to the events of last week at the Boston Marathon, the Celtics playoff run is now about something even bigger than the personal glory of two future Hall of Famers — it’s about Boston.
Not to make the Knicks sound like antagonists here, but their goal is to stand in the way of the Celtics seeing Garnett and Pierce out in style and are attempting to right a ship that has been a mystery for seasons now. Everyone ha acknowledged that the Knicks are a good basketball team, but they’ve never been able to put anything together in the East.
Thanks to a devastating injury to Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls fell off the map a bit in the East this year, opening the door for the Knicks to crawl out of Chicago’s shadow and challenge the Miami Heat for conference dominance. It will still be a good month or so before the Knicks and Heat meet — if they do– but the ride to the Conference Finals is what’s important here.
Carmelo Anthony is finally the unchallenged leader of the Knicks, thanks to his scoring title and injuries to Amare Stoudemire that have kept him out thus far. So far the excuse for the Knicks has been they haven’t had a definitive leader, but now that they have, the Knicks look like one of the best teams in the postseason.
Boston is known for their defense, but that unit was shredded down the stretch by the Knicks, as sharp shooting and great rebounding helped New York turn what was a back-and-forth nail biter into a comfortable opening game win over the Celtics.
What helped the Knicks down the home stretch was impressive defense, which helped aid the offensive surge. Everyone was getting in on the action, from Melo to J.R. Smith and even Kenyon Martin. The question entering the series was could the Knicks sustain the weight of the position they put themselves in, but after the first game the question is now can anyone stop the Knicks before they square off with the Heat?
We’ve seen the Knicks in the playoffs before, we haven’t seen the Knicks hot in the playoffs so this is new to everyone.