Opening Tip: It's early, but let's talk playoffs

Every weekday throughout the season, ESPNNewYork.com will tackle a burning question about the Knicks in our "Opening Tip" segment.

Today's Burning Question: With the Knicks on the verge of clinching a playoff spot, let's look ahead. Which team would you like to see them play in the first round?

With a win on Friday, the Knicks can clinch a playoff berth for the third straight season.

Let's take a look at some of the possible first-round match ups:

BOSTON CELTICS: A few weeks ago, the Knicks might have pined for this matchup. But the Celtics, thanks in part to Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jeff Green and Avery Bradley, have thrived since Rajon Rondo went down. The Knicks went 1-1 against the Celtics when they had Rajon Rondo. No matter their regular season record, though, Boston always seems to be a tough matchup for New York.

ATLANTA HAWKS: Led by Josh Smith, the Hawks have thrived with a bunch of players who may not be with the team next year. Will Smith want to leave Atlanta fans with something to remember him by? Carmelo Anthony tied a team record with nine 3-pointers in a win over the Hawks in January, but that's all we have to go on between these two teams. The Knicks and Hawks will play two more times before the end of the regular season.

BROOKLYN NETS: The Knicks and Nets will likely battle for the Atlantic Division title until the end of the regular season. Would you like to see them matchup in the postseason, too? The Knicks and Nets split four regular season meetings, with Carmelo Anthony dominating in the series. One matchup we'd love to see over seven games is Tyson Chandler against Brook Lopez.

CHICAGO BULLS: With or without Derrick Rose, this is probably the last team the Knicks want to see in the first round. Chicago's defense has confounded the Knicks all year. The Bulls have beaten the Knicks in all three matchups this year thanks in part to their defense that stays at home on the Knicks' perimeter shooters and defends the pick and roll between New York's point guard and Tyson Chandler.

Question: Which team would you like to see the Knicks match up against in the first round?

Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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