Boston Celtics: 2013Playoffs
Felton gets points over Bradley for being more of a natural point guard, seeing as Bradley is better suited as an off guard but was thrust into the role in the wake of Boston's loss of Rajon Rondo for the season in January. Bradley still won't fill the role of a conventional point guard, as Boston will utilize multiple ball handlers to initiate the team's offense. Felton has posted solid numbers all season, and while his greatest contributions should come on the offensive end, Bradley holds greater potential for an all-around impact if he can emerge as a consistent source of offense (keep an eye on his corner 3-point shooting) while bringing his usual tenacious on-ball defense. Bradley's pressure defense could spell trouble for not only Felton, but New York's other primary ball handlers.
SLIGHT EDGE: Celtics
Pierce and Jeff Green are interchangeable at the shooting guard/small forward spots in this lineup, but we envision Pierce seeing more time in the back court. Shumpert's athleticism could make him a difficult cover for Pierce at times, but the Celtics' captain will happily return the favor on the other end, as he'll utilize his height and strength to attack the lane and create easier shots for himself. Pierce loves playing in Madison Square Garden, and with his jack-of-all-trades kind of role (don't be shocked if he registers a triple-double or two), he could be poised for one of his better playoff series in recent memory. Without a true lock-down defender in front of him, Pierce will want to put his stamp on this series early, before an emotional return to Boston for Games 3 and 4.
Anthony is arguably the best player in this entire series, and there's no doubt Green will have his work cut out for him on the defensive end. In four games against the Celtics this season, Anthony averaged 25.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists, although he shot just 35 percent from the field. As much as Green (and Pierce and Brandon Bass, who'll also spend time guarding Anthony) will need to make things difficult for Anthony when he has the ball, Green needs to channel an aggressive mindset on offense and force Anthony to work on the defensive end as well -- something Anthony most likely doesn't want to do. While Green could easily emerge as something of an X factor for the Celtics throughout their entire playoff run, there's little question that Anthony boasts the greater ability to take over a game (and potentially a series).
Game 1: Saturday, April 20 - Celtics at Knicks - 3 p.m. (ABC)
Game 2: Tuesday, April 23 - Celtics at Knicks - 8 p.m. (TNT)
Game 3: Friday, April 26 - Knicks at Celtics - 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 4: Sunday, April 28 - Knicks at Celtics - 1 p.m. (ABC)
Game 5*: Wednesday, May 1 - Celtics at Knicks - TBD
Game 6*: Friday, May 3 - Knicks at Celtics - TBD
Game 7*: Sunday, May 5 - Celtics at Knicks - TBD
(* - if necessary)
One note from ESPN Stats and Info: Since the NBA playoffs expanded to eight teams per conference in 1983-84, the Celtics have never been a seven seed. Boston, however, has been an eight seed on three different occasions –- losing all three. A quick glance at the Celtics' history as a seventh seed or worse:
2003-04: 8th seed vs. Pacers (Lost, 4-0)
1994-95: 8th seed vs. Magic (Lost, 3-1)
1988-89: 8th seed vs. Pistons (Lost, 3-0)
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