With the playoffs a couple of weeks away, it might be a good time to think about who the Knicks might face up in the first round. Although teams don’t generally get to choose their opponent, you’ll get to chose who you think New York has the best match-up against.
The Celtics hold the number one seed, they’ve beaten New York twice already (2 more games left), and they’ve been a championship caliber team over the last few years. So why would the Knicks want to face them? Although Boston’s starting five of Rondo, Allen, Pierce, Garnett, and Shaq are HOF worthy, their bench could be a weak spot. Their top reserves are Glen Davis (12.5 PER this year), Jeff Green (12.8 PER), Nenad Krstic (13.1 PER), and Troy Murphy (6.1 PER) who are mediocre rounded players but none have incredible strengths that could spark a team in a critical playoff moment (as opposed to Perkins and Robinson who excel in certain areas). Considering the age of the Celtics, one injury could open the door for a hungry underdog team.
The Bulls hired the mastermind behind the Celtics great defense, Tom Thibodeau, as their head coach. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that they have the league’s best defense. However all the top seeds in the East are in the top five on defense, and Chicago has the worst offense of the lot (19th). The Knicks have won both match-ups thus far, with one remaining. However of those victories the Bulls were not at full strength, missing Boozer in the first game, and Noah in the second. A New York-Chicago series would be a contest of opposites, with D’Antoni and Thibodeau using their diametrically opposed philosophies against each other. And as a bonus there will be plenty of flashbacks to the Jordan-Ewing clashes.
Yeah they suck at the end of games. Yeah their team is woefully imbalanced. Yeah nobody likes them. Yeah they cry. Yeah the Knicks are 2-2 against them during the season. Yeah it would be the sweetest of victories for New York to end Miami’s season. But don’t kid yourself thinking that the Knicks would have an easy time with the Heat. Miami has the best offense of the elite Eastern teams (6th), and their defense is a tad better (5th).
So far the Magic have won both games against New York, and the Knicks biggest weakness (defensive minded center that can rebound) is Orlando’s biggest strength. On the other hand the Magic turned over their roster, and have only been 24-15 (.615) since their December 18th trade. The Knicks face up against Orlando twice more before the month is done, so this could be a better litmus test on how these two teams match-up against each other.