An interesting, almost unfamiliar situation for both teams heading into the 2013 NBA Playoffs opening game. The Boston Celtics, without home court advantage, and possibly a city looking up for them to turn a tragedy into something positive to cling on to. On the other side, the New York Knicks, or Carmelo Anthony and the rest, finding themselves as favorites in a postseason series for the first time in over a decade.
This is the first time they are a 7 seed since the NBA playoffs expanded to eight teams per conference in 1983-84. Boston has been an eight seed on three different occasions, losing all three.
The season series, not to mention the record and a quick glance at the roster gives the general idea – the Knicks are the better team, and it is going to be quite a shock if they don’t make it into the semifinal from this one. It’ll be quite surprising if the Celtics win more than two games in this series, to tell you the truth.
There are always some numbers to cling to that help you understand just how short the Celtics’ roster is, still hoping that the aging combination of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett has more playoff-heroics left to give, even without Rajon Rondo, and nothing much to fall on except for Jeff Green’s scoring (12.8 points per game this season). Both are 35 or older, and teams starting at least 2 players who are 35 years or older have lost 3 straight playoff series, including 2012 Celtics.
Carmelo Anthony needs to prove that his scoring isn’t the only thing he has to offer. Averaging 28.7 points per game during the season, backed up by a red hot J.R. Smith (18.1 points per game, should win Sixth Man of the year), this is Anthony’s chance to show he’s a leader, who can rebound, defend and give up his own shot if it means the teams does better.
A bit more numbers to throw your way – this is the sixth time that a scoring champion will face the Celtics in the playoffs since the current 16-team format was instituted in 1983-84; the Celtics have come out on top in four of the previous five instances.
Prediction – The Celtics have had a lot of trouble on the road this season, going 14-27. The New York Knicks were the hottest team in the NBA this season. Unless Avery Bradley can shut down the way the Knicks move the ball and the Celtics do a good job in keeping the ball out of the hands of both Anthony and Smith, it’s going to be a long opening night, and probably series, for the team that were a game away from reaching the NBA finals last season.