GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Carmelo Anthony forecasted a tough, physical playoff series against the Boston Celtics, but he would go no further.
"I’m not Nostradamus. I don’t make predictions," Anthony said today after the Knicks' morning shootaround as they prepared to play the Chicago Bulls in the final regular season game at Madison Square Garden. "They've got something to prove. We've got something to prove. I'm pretty sure it’s going to be a battle."
Anthony did not watch the Celtics' game against the Washington Wizards on Monday night, a defeat that locked in the first Boston-New York playoff series since 1990, and he was not even aware the Celtics had lost. "I was enjoying my day off."
But the Celtics will be his focus for the next two weeks, beginning Wednesday night when the teams meet in the regular-season finale at TD Garden in a game in which coach Mike D'Antoni is expected to rest most of his main players -- although he said there was a chance Amare Stoudemire could play a few minutes to test his sprained left ankle.
Stoudemire will not play tonight against the Bulls.
"He's not 100 percent. He will be Sunday, though," D'Antoni said.
The Knicks are 0-3 against Boston this season, losing there 105-101 as Rajon Rondo had 24 assists on the second night of the regular season, then dropping both matchups at Madison Square Garden -- the first on Dec. 15 when Stoudemire's 3-pointer at the buzzer left his hand a split-second too late in a 118-116 defeat, the last a 96-86 loss on March 21 when several players were bloodied and both Anthony and Stoudemire were held scoreless in the fourth quarter.
But the Knicks have been gathering a head of steam in winning seven straight games since their last loss on March 26 at Charlotte, while Boston has gone 11-11 in its last 22 games.
"That team, they haven’t been playing well lately, they haven’t been healthy lately, and I’m sure they are looking forward to the postseason," Chauncey Billups said. "I’ve been on those teams, veteran teams, where pretty much the regular season is just not that much fun. They look forward to the playoffs, and that’s the kind of team they have, so we’ve got our hands full. But in saying that, we’re looking forward to this opportunity."
And while Anthony (nor anyone else on the Knicks) would predict the outcome, Billups did deliver some of the strongest words of the morning in handicapping the Knicks' chances.
"I think that we are probably, most certainly, the most dangerous first-round team in the NBA. When I say that it’s because we are fresh and we are new and we are dangerous," Billups said. "We’ve got a lot of weapons, we can move the scoreboard, I think our defense is a lot better. We’re going to be a tough out, man."