Knicks out for payback against Boston

The Knicks will host the Celtics at Madison Square Garden in Game 1 of the NBA playoffs' first round. AP Photo/Seth Wenig

It's been nearly two years, but Carmelo Anthony still remembers.

He knows exactly how he felt after the Boston Celtics swept the New York Knicks out of the 2011 playoffs. And he'll use that as motivation this time around against Boston.

"That's in the back of our minds," Anthony said. "We want to beat Boston. I mean, let's be quite frank."

Anthony and the Knicks will be out for revenge this weekend when they face the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.

New York set up the matchup with their longtime rivals by beating the Pacers, 90-80, on Sunday afternoon.

That win clinched the second seed in the Eastern Conference for the Knicks.

Boston is the seventh seed. Game 1 of Knicks-Celtics will likely be Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

"We're looking forward to that matchup. We know what type of series it's going to be," Anthony said. "It's going to be a grind out, battle series, tough series, physical series. We're looking forward to that."

The Knicks have reason to be confident heading into the postseason. They've won 14 of their last 15 and beat Boston in three of four meetings this year, winning the season series for the first time since 2003-04.

As always, the Knicks-Celtics games this year did not lack drama.

In the first matchup, Anthony went after Kevin Garnett near Boston's team bus following the Celtics win at MSG.

Anthony lost his cool after engaging in trash talk and physical play with Garnett in the fourth quarter.

According to Anthony, Garnett used words that "you don't say to another man."

Anthony was suspended one game for the incident.

Both big men have moved on from the incident, palling around during All-Star weekend in Houston.

But that doesn't mean that Knicks-Celtics will be a friendly affair.

"They're a physical team, we know that," Steve Novak said.

They are also playoff tested. The core of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen won five straight Atlantic Division championships and an NBA title.

But this Boston team is a bit different. Ray Allen is in Miami and Rajon Rondo is out for the season. They struggle on offense at times and are awful on the offensive boards. But they can defend, and that is one reason why the Knicks have a healthy respect for Boston.

"They’re well coached, and they’ve played well," Mike Woodson said.

Woodson hopes to have his team at full strength heading into the Boston series. Kenyon Martin has missed five of the last six games due to knee and ankle injuries and Tyson Chandler has missed 14 of the last 18 games due to a neck ailment, but both are expected back for Game 1.

Marcus Camby (plantar fascia) also should be healthy enough to suit up. And there is a chance that Rasheed Wallace will be in uniform. He hasn't played since Dec. 13 due a stress fracture in his foot.

"We're looking forward to having him back," Anthony said of Wallace. "Especially right now at a crucial time."

Boston's dealing with health issues of its own. The C's will be without Rondo and Kevin Garnett has been dealing with an ankle injury that may hinder him in the playoffs.

"They’ve had their ups and downs with injuries, and so have we. We gotta get back healthy and we gotta get ready to play them," Woodson said. "It’s going to be a good series."

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