Celtics Vs. Knicks: Boston Begins Quest Against Resurgent New York On Sunday

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Celtics Vs. Knicks, NBA Playoffs: Elite Boston Defense, New York Offense Collide

The Boston Celtics and New York Knicks are two of the most imbalanced teams in the NBA in terms of offense and defense. That they'll meet in the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs is either poetic or fortuitous. There's a familiar but inaccurate refrain that is sung in chorus this time of year: defense wins championships. In truth, in the NBA, defense and offense are equally important.

For these teams, defense and offense are not equally important. Boston boasts the No. 2 defense in the NBA, finishing a half a hair behind the Chicago Bulls for the top spot. This has been the Celtics' identity since Kevin Garnett came to town: restrict the other team from scoring, and Boston's overwhelming talent and savvy on offense will handle business. And it's worked, to the tune of two Finals appearance in three years and one championship.

The offense isn't consistent by any means, though, which is another constant during Garnett's tenure. This season, the Celtics finished a woeful No. 19 in offense, behind the Warriors, Pistons and every playoff team but the Hawks and Pacers. The team shoots rather well, No. 7 in the league with a .519 effective field goal percentage. The Celtics also draw fouls well (No. 8). But everything else is bad: Boston finished No. 28 in turnover rate (turnovers on 14.5 percent of possessions) and dead last in offensive rebound rate (o-boards on just 21.1 percent of own misses). It comes out to mediocrity on offense.

The Knicks are the exact opposite. New York finished No. 7 in the NBA in offense, and No. 22 in defense. The Knicks' offense is buoyed by the No. 8 shooting clip in the league (.513 eFG), the fifth lowest turnover rate (12.6 percent) and the No. 4 foul drawing rate. Like the C's, New York is mediocre on the offensive glass (No. 24), but the Knicks are overwhelming better at this offense thing than Boston.

Defense is where the Knicks lose it. New York has the No. 23 shooting defense, the No. 26 defensive rebounding rate and fouls more than all but six teams. The Knicks do create turnovers at a good rate (No. 8), and that's one area Boston needs to keep heightened awareness.

But across the board, the Celtics' iffy offense is facing a bad New York defense, while the Knicks' bread and butter -- offense -- faces the challenge of a truly elite defense. If you ride with the Knicks, you're betting they can overcome Boston's strength while preventing the C's from exploiting the Knicks' own weakness? It's a tough bet to take.

All data from the excellent Basketball-Reference.com.

See our Celtics vs. Knicks hub.

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NBA Playoff Schedule, Celtics Vs. Knicks: Boston Gets Early Rest

The Boston Celtics are the oldest team in the East bracket of the 2011 NBA Playoffs, and as such could use regular rest as the second season moves along, especially if the defending conference champs have designs on a repeat trip to the NBA Finals. They'll get it, as their first round series against the New York Knicks doesn't begin until Sunday and includes just two games in the first six days of the postseason.

Here's the schedule: 

Game 1: Sun., April 17 in Boston, 7 p.m., TNT
Game 2: Tue., April 19 in Boston, 7 p.m., TNT
Game 3: Fri., April 22 in New York, TBD, ESPN
Game 4: Sun., April 24 in New York, 3:30 p.m., ABC
Game 5: Tue., April 26 in Boston, TBD
Game 6: Fri., April 29 in New York, TBD
Game 7: Sun., May 1 in Boston, TBD

It's no surprise the NBA picked Boston-New York for one of its regular Sunday spots. If it's a competitive series, it should do huge ratings.

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NBA Playoffs Schedule: Celtics Vs. Knicks Game 1 Tips Off Sunday On TNT

The 2011 NBA Playoffs schedule for Game 1s of the Eastern Conference's first round have been announced, and the Boston Celtics will host the New York Knicks on Sunday, April 17, at 7 p.m. ET at TD Garden. TNT and local cable partners will broadcast the game. The Celtics and Knicks are the final East teams to get started, as the other three series tip off on Saturday.

The extra rest should help weary Boston, one of the oldest teams in the NBA and a squad that leans heavily on its veteran stars. Coach Doc Rivers began the rest period early, sitting all four Boston All-Stars -- Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo -- in the Celtics' Monday game against the Wizards with the East's No. 2 seed still on the line. The C's lost, and landed at No. 3.

Amar'e Stoudemire has been resting for the Knicks, sitting in New York's previous three games. He played huge minutes in the first half of the season as the Knicks pushed for the team's first playoff bid since 2004.

In the NBA playoffs, there are no back-to-backs, and teams will frequently see two days of rest between games within a single series.

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NBA Playoff Predictions, Celtics Vs. Knicks: Boston Begins Quest Against Resurgent New York

The Boston Celtics fell behind the upstart Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat in their bid to claim home court advantage throughout the East bracket of the 2011 NBA Playoffs. That has some serious ramifications early, as it means the C's will face the mysterious and sometimes wonderful New York Knicks in the first round. The Knicks fought to .500 with the addition of Amar'e Stoudemire and Raymond Felton, but around midseason shipped Felton and two other starters to the Nuggets for a certain Mr. Carmelo Anthony.

Since then, the Knicks have been erratic. As have the Celtics, who are hardly above .500 -- 15-12 -- since the All-Star break. The Knicks have been 14-12 since that point. Intrigue? You betcha.

UPSET POTENTIAL

Plenty. As noted a few paragraph breaks above, the Knicks and Celtics have played of similar quality since the All-Star break, and that is a bit better than average. The world nearly imploded when the Knicks went on a six-game losing streak. The reaction to this seven-game winning streak New York is currently on has been more mild. That will change if New York can steal Game 1 in the TD Garden. While odds aren't out quite yet, expect the Celtics' favorite status to be more mild than usual.

ANOINTMENT INVITATION

Amar'e calls himself Mr. April (is that really a compliment?), but Carmelo is the man of the hour. Anthony has averaged 30 points a game over his last 10, and in his career he averages 25 points and seven rebounds per game in the playoffs. In a six-game series against the Jazz last year, he averaged 30 a game on 46 percent shooting. He's an absolute offensive beast, and Paul Pierce will need some help stopping him.

Toney Douglas, maybe New York's best defender (backhanded accolade, I know) should also receive some shine. You know everyone on the Celtics, so unless Rajon Rondo gets suspended and Avery Bradley breaks out, the opportunity for surprise dap is low.

HINTS FOR THE FUTURE

Should Boston move forward, how Pierce and the frontcourt deal with 'Melo will be of utmost importance, considering that LeBron James awaits in the second round. The Celtics had success against LeBron a year ago, but that rumored elbow injury -- a malady so mysterious John Le Carré is upset he didn't come up with it -- was a factor in some way. Also, the Celtics are a year older. If they can't control 'Melo, the face-off with King James looms large, especially considering that LeBron has Dywane Wade instead of Landry Fields next to him on the wing.

If the Knicks move on, no one will care about the second round, because the hype will have engulfed us all like a suffocating blanket of lava.

MAINSTREAM MEME ALERT

It will take one game -- one game -- in which Stoudemire scores 30 points for the overheated "They got soft when they trade Perk!" nonsense to spark up. Kendrick Perkins basically did not play for the Celtics this season; Perk played 12 games before the trade. And Boston did just fine when he was on the inactive list recovering from offseason surgery. The center position is a problem, but the team's stuttering offense is a much bigger problem. So ignore the Perk talk when it comes to specific game impact, unless Ronny Turiaf goes off for 25 and Amar'e grabs six or seven offensive rebounds.

FINAL PREDICTION

Boston in 7. For the balance of the season, the Celtics were a much, much better team. The Knicks go two deep in terms of star power; the C's go four deep, and have home court advantage. I can't see Boston losing more than one game at home, and I can definitely see the Celtics winning in New York.

AND ONE

Keep up with our Celtics Vs. Knicks, NBA Playoffs section for all the coverage of this series you need. For more on the Knicks, head over to Posting And Toasting and SB Nation New York. For Celtics' coverage and analysis, visit CelticsBlog and SB Nation Boston.

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