Good afternoon. I am back in New York after a fine shuttle flight and an interesting getting to know you pat-down from the TSA. Berman got no such special treatment, and I let him cut in front of me in the line. Not fair! But onto Game 1, and your thoughts and questions on the Knick-Celtics series ...
who do you think the knicks should start at center: williams turiaf or jeffries?
D'Antoni said last night he will start Turiaf and make it a three-headed position with Shelden Williams and Jared Jeffries. The thing you have to watch for is how much it'll be matchup-based depending on the health of Shaq and Jermaine O'Neal. If the Celtics are leaning a lot on Krstic, the Knicks can get away with playing small.
Besides the big three who else do you see helping them in this series for the knicks.
I think they two key role players will be Big Baby Davis, because the Knicks have no one like him coming of the bench, and he's dangerous both inside and outside, and Toney Douglas, whose 3-point shooting and defense against Rondo are going to be major make-or-break factors.
Which of the Knicks' "Three-Headed Monster" at the center position do you see making the greatest impact? If there is an odd-man out, who is riding the pine?
Good question, Ben. I will have to say Turiaf, because he plays tough. There was a time when some were calling him Froakley ;)
As for the potential odd man out, I would go with Shelden. He has a better offensive game than Turiaf, but the Knicks don't need his offense. They need Jeffries' defense, and they need Jeffries' charges drawn-to-3-pointers attempted ratio to be at least 5:1.
Chris,No one seems to be giving the Knicks any chance to beat the Celtics. But don't they have the best two players in this series? And when that's the case, doesn't that team always have a chance to win a series? Why is no one pointing this out?
Celtics fans would argue that Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce are the two best players in this series. Plus, Rondo and Pierce have a track record together that Anthony and Stoudemire don't have. But either way, there is an awful lot of talent in this series, and I see it going 7 games. I don't know if it'll be as much of an instant classic as Bulls-Celtics was in the first round a couple years ago, but I have high expectations.
Will D'Antoni use his Jeffries on Rondo strategy at times this series? With the Knicks already undersized, will they be able to get away with it like that have in the past?
Yes, I think you will see that. D'Antoni was asked about it last night, and he acknowledged that it is in their bag of tricks. But I think you will see Douglas on him 10 times more than you will see Jeffries on him.
Who will have a bigger impact in the playoffs, Amare or Melo?
Since Carmelo is the one they are going to for last-minute shots, I will choose him. Impact players hit big shots to win games. Paul Pierce does that. And as Anthony yelled to the Grizzlies down in Memphis last month: "I do that."
What's the most interesting storyline to watch for this Knicks-Celtics series?
Whether Carmelo Anthony becomes an instant hero in New York. If he gets them into a second-round series against the Heat and keeps them competitive in that series, his Q rating goes off the charts in NY.
This series will probably go to Boston in 4-5 ... Amare and Melo will be held to low efficiency and the Knicks don't really have a lot of other places to look.
Not a lot of agreement with you among ESPN's national writers: All pick the Celtics: H.Abbott and J. Hollinger think it'll be in 5, while J.Adande and M.Wilbon say 6, and myself, M.Stein, T.Legler, C.Ford and C.Broussard all say 7.
Chris, you think Mike D has given any thought to moving Chauncey over to the 2-guard with Douglas' quickness being used to check Rondo - Chauncey at the 2 seemed to do wonders last summer for team USA?
Chauncey will get Ray Allen more than he will get Rondo, I believe. But in the halfcourt, the Knicks will really sag off Rondo and play more zone than they would against other opponents. They did that the last time Boston came to MSG and it was working for them pretty well before their fourth-quarter implosion.
Will Amare be back at 100% in the playoffs? Since him and Carmelo cant sit down if they want some W's, will the ankle effect their chances.
Amare flew back last night with the ankle taped, but there is nothing uncommon about that when you are coming back from an ankle sprain. He says he's 100 percent, but he didn't have the lift off that left leg that he normally does. That being said, I don't think they would have played him last night if they didn't think it was a safe thing.
If Shaq is healthy enough to play, how will that impact the Knicks game plan?
They will have to burn fouls against him. So if Shaq plays, Shelden will be out there doing just that. Myself, I am skeptical that Shaquille will be an impact player in this series. He has been milk carton material for 3 months.
Why did Amar'e just leave for the locker room (after throwing his jersey to a random Celtic fan - WHY?!) after his brief stint in the third)?
Probably to hang with Chauncey and Carmelo. It was game No. 82, and the rules are looser in game 82. Plus there are food and beverages and a nice TV in the locker room. Plus no hecklers.
What do you think of Dantoni's rotations? I know hes been testing different lineups recently and I understand that, but I think he still needs to play fields more for his confidence to get back...also I know Anthony Carter is a veteran etc but he NEEDS to go, hes too slow and is an offensive crutch!!
How short of a leash D'Antoni has with Fields will be an interesting thing to watch if he can't start quickly in the series. The rook has been in a two-month slump if you compare it to what he was doing prior to the trade. And if Fields sits, Douglas probably starts and Walker becomes a bigger factor. You'd also then see AC out there spelling Chauncey when Arroyo is in.
What do you think of Chris Webber's opinion that the Knicks should put Melo on KG??
I could see them doing that if Boston goes with Davis and Garnett together on the floor at the same time, or if Stoudemire was in foul trouble and he could be put on Krstic or Green. Carmelo's defensive intensity is going to be another one of the big x-factors in this series.
I think Toney Douglas has been an excellent surprise this year for the Knicks. Not only has he showed that he can score and shoot the deep ball, but he is also a very competent distrubutor who put up respectable assist-turnover numbers while Billups was out. With all of the big contracts floating in this city, is he playing his way out?
He has one more year to convince the Knicks that he is a keeper, and they should spend their '12 cap room on multiple pieces rather than Deron Williams/Chris Paul. Right now, he is far too hot and cold of a player to be called a piece of the long-term foundation going forward through '14-'15 alongside Anthony and Stoudemire.
Is it me or do the refs scrutinize melo way too much? Pierce gets nearly every call he asks for and these days refs are so used to calling charges on melo that they do it before he even makes a move!! They immediately assume he pushes off, with pierce being NBAs biggest flopper I only see it getting worse
You just offended Anderson Varejao.
Please tell me Melo and Stat will both play the ENTIRE 4th Qtr..Watching Melo come in at the 6 min mark drives me nuts
You are preaching to the choir, Gino.
I believe the Knicks intensity and defensive effort will obviously be at a all time high due to the playoff atmosphere. With this being said don't you think that the Celtics simply can't keep up with the Knicks scoring in this series?
The Celtics were the No. 1 defensive team in the NBA, so I am not buying the argument that the Knicks will simply outscore them. The Knicks are going to have to work harder for their points against Boston than they would against any other EC opponent, and their execution on both ends in the final 3 minutes will make or break 5 of the 7 games, I am reckoning.
How many points do you think melo has to average for knicks to win the series?
To win? I would say 32 or 33.
Chris I am taking a road trip to Boston Garden and will be wearing my bright orange melo shirt. Is this not a good idea kind of like wearing an opposing teams gear to the Vet in Philly haha? I keep picturing those classless fans in philly pegging 49er fans with snowballs until they were forced to leave.
You will get some grief, especially if you are sitting upstairs. Your real problems will potentially happen out on Landsdowne Street.
Will you join me in growing a stache until the Knicks are eliminated or win it all?
That is a wrap for today, folks. Enjoy the weekend, and keep checking back on ESPNNewYork.com for blanket coverage of this series.