Over the next 4 days, we are going to read all sorts of breakdowns of potential first round matchups. From the C’s point of view, everyone will have an opinion about whether they match up better against the Knicks, or the 76ers. We will hear why one team will be an easier out than the other, and why one team could give them a "scare", much like the Hawks did in 2008, or the Bulls in 2009.
So, rather than subjecting you to my incredibly amateur analysis, I am taking a different view of this first round series, because frankly, I don’t think it matters which matchup is scarier. Both matchups have positives and negatives from a basketball standpoint, so from an X’s and O’s point of view, they cancel each other out.
From a fans point of view, however, I think there is only one way to go. We all know about the New York vs. Boston rivalry, in just about every sport. But, while it has grown to comical proportions in Baseball, and to a lesser extent Football, over the last 20 years or so, this rivalry has been dormant in the NBA. When the Knicks were good, the C’s were terrible, and vice versa…until this year.
For a season that has had its share of ups and downs, I can’t think of too many bigger highlights as a Celtics fan (that didn't involve Lebron James, anyways) than those two wins in Manhattan. So, why not do it again?
It is certainly not a stretch to assume that the C’s veterans would get up for that series. They showed more grit, toughness, and desire during the second half of their second win in NY, than they did in the rest of March combined. These guys love the big stage, and there is none bigger than NY. They would like nothing more than to knock Amare and Melo down a couple notches, and send Spike home crying into his Fargo hat. We can argue until our faces turn blue about whether the Knicks pose a bigger danger to upset the C’s than the 76ers, but I don’t think there is any doubt which matchup would let us watch a better brand of basketball.
And let's be honest, one thing every Celtics fan needs to come to grips with is that we don’t know how long this run will last. There is a very good chance that this playoff run may be the last deep playoff run we see for a long time. Particularly if there is a lockout next year, I think the chances are good this will be the last playoff run in the Big 3 era. So, we really need to savor every minute we can. So for me, there would be no better warmup for Lebron and company than teaching Mike D’Antoni and his little 3 that they don’t belong on the same court as the Boston Celtics.