The Knicks qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2004. Standing in their way is the defending Eastern Conference Champion, Boston Celtics, who finished the regular season 56-26, 14 games ahead of the Knicks. New York finished the regular season 42-40, their first winning season since the 2000-2001 season, The Knicks were 0-4 against the Celtics this season but what do they need to do pull the upset in the 1st round of the Eastern Conference playoffs?

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The Knicks finished the season 7-3 in the last ten, but dropped their last two games, albeit it to the Chicago Bulls and these Boston Celtics after clinching the 6th seed. Amar’e Stoudemire is returning from an ankle injury and played 20 minutes in the season finale.

Carmelo Anthony has carried the Knicks while Amar’e was out with the ankle injury. He made the game winning shot at Indiana on April 10th and has scored over 30 points in five of his last ten games. Chauncey Billups, however, is the key factor to the 1st round series against the Celtics. Mr. Big Shot only knows how to get to the conference finals, as he’s been there in six of his last seven seasons. He’s averaging 17.5 points and 5.5 assists per game since coming to New York.

With Chauncey Billups, a healthy Amar’e Stoudemire, and Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks have three legitimate scorers for the Celtics to deal with. They’ve played one game together against the Celtics, but it was soon after the blockbuster trade that brought ‘Melo and Billups to New York from Denver.

As for the Celtics, they’ve struggled since trading Kendrick Perkins for Jeff Green. They are 10-11 in their last 21 games, but rested their starters the last few games of the season. While Perkins has turned Oklahoma City into a legitimate title contender, Jeff Green has struggled to find a niche in Boston. He’s averaging only 9.8 points per game while contributing 3.3 rebounds per game and less than one assist.

The Celtics have plenty more playoff experience in comparison to the Knicks, but they also have plenty more miles on their legs. If the Knicks are going to win this series, they’re going to have to do what they’ve done all season, and that is run. In the three losses where both teams player their starters, the Knicks lost on a buzzer beating 3 pointer that was not in time by Amar’e Stoudemire, losing 118-116, and two games where the Knicks did not get up and down the court like they do when they are successful. They scored only 86 points in the loss that featured the only time these two teams faced each other with Billups, Anthony, and Stoudemire, but did hold the Celtics to 96 points.

Madison Square Garden is sure to be a zoo, as the playoffs return to the Mecca of Basketball for the first time in seven years. If the Knicks can steal a game in Boston before returning to New York, look out Boston.

The run of the Celtics comes to a close, and a new chapter begins for the New York Knicks.

Prediction: New York in 7