NBA Eastern Conference: Predicting the Winners of the First Round Matchups

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Apr 13, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA; Boston Celtics small forward Paul Pierce (34) reatcs against the Orlando Magic during the second half at the Amway Center. Boston Celtics defeated the Orlando Magic 120-88. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

2. New York Knicks vs 7. Boston Celtics

The Celtics are missing Rajon Rondo and aren’t getting any younger, but they can upset the Knicks.

New York has emerged as one of the East’s best teams, as Carmelo Anthony won the scoring title, J.R Smith performed well off the bench and Tyson Chandler was a monster on the boards. The result is a second-place finish in the East, which means that the talented Knicks will take on the experienced Celtics in an interesting series.

Boston lost Rondo, but Paul Pierce has assumed the role of lead facilitator, averaging more than six assists per game (APG) since Rondo’s injury. Pierce and Kevin Garnett are the premier scorers, but none match up with Anthony in terms of scoring. Anthony averaged 28.7 points per game (PPG), and Smith averaged 18.1 PPG. New York was in the top 11 in offense, defense and point differential, so they are a fairly good all-around team.

Smith will have scoring chances, because Anthony is a player defenses key in on. Both are scoring threats, and both can change a game dramatically when they are shooting well. It’s going to be hard for Boston’s aging defense to contain New York’s high-profile offense, but if they can do so, they have a great chance of winning.

The Celtics rank 15th in point differential, but they are far more experienced and don’t lose at home. Boston has great fans, and that’s a big reason why the Celtics went 28-13 at home. However, Boston also went 14-27 on the road, and they were fairly mediocre all season.

New York has more talent, home-court advantage and the apparent edge. The Knicks went 3-1 against the Celtics this year, and they won the last two games (in late March) by 15 and 19 points. If Boston can continue its home success, though, this series will be close. However, I have a hard time seeing the Celtics advancing here.

In other words, the Knicks will prove experience isn’t everything and take down the Celtics; in a tight battle.

Prediction: Knicks in seven.