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Matchup: New York Knicks @ Boston Celtics
Date: Sunday, April 17th, 7:05 ET
Location: The TD Garden
NBA Odds: Boston -6
Over/Under Odds: 197
Game Analysis: The rivalry that exists between the cities of Boston and New York is one that few outsiders really understand. If it’s not the Yankees and Red Sox doing battle or the Bruins and the Rangers it’s the Knicks and the Celtics. Boston and New York are the two largest cities in the Northeast and are constantly pitted against each other in sporting events. Their fans are known for their enthusiasm to say the least and this year an old playoff rivalry is renewed. The rivalry between the Knicks and the Celtics goes back a long time and this year’s renewal is somewhat of a surprise. The Knicks made some big moves in the off season acquiring Amare Stoudamire and improving their team. Right before the trade deadline they made another huge move getting Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups in a big three team trade. Unfortunately the results have been mixed since the trade. The Knicks offense is something they have gotten going since the trade with the obvious double threat of Carmelo and Stoudamire it gives New York two very good scoring options and difficult match ups for the opposition. The Knicks have had their issues on defense this year and especially since the trade. Against a good team like Boston that will lead to plenty of open jumpers and easy baskets. If you leave Ray Allan open he will kill you and he should have a field day against the Knicks. Boston relies on their defense but is not averse to getting into the open floor if the opportunity presents itself. Against the Knicks there are many open floor opportunities and that should help keep the score of this game well above 100 for both teams. This total could be eclipsed early in the 4th quarter if New York tries to run which I suspect they will. Due to the Celtics defensive reputation the line is set a relative low number 197. However I know they will take advantage of the Knicks lack of defense and put up a nice score in this game. Whether they cover the 6 points is questionable although I’d lean to yes, what is not questionable is that this game should go way over the posted total of 197.
Free NBA Playoff Picks: OVER 197
Matchup: Denver Nuggets @ Oklahoma City Thunder
Date: Saturday, April 17th, 9:305 ET
Location: Oklahoma City Arena
NBA Odds : Oklahoma City -5.5
Over/Under Odds: 200
Game Analysis: Perhaps the best of all 8 first round playoff match ups is this Oklahoma City-Denver series. Oklahoma City is obviously a young and talented team that got a lot of much needed playoff experience last year and made a key move before the trade deadline getting defensive presence Kendrick Perkins. They are lead by perennial NBA leading scorer Kevin Durant and the combo of Durant and Westbrook may be the best young combo in the NBA. The Thunder will host Denver who made quite a run after trading away their top scorer Carmelo Anthony. After trading Carmelo it appeared two things happened in Denver, first off they started to share the ball more and that made their offense actually more versatile. Second, for the first time since I can remember the Nuggets actually started playing defense. That combination sparked them to a #5 seed and a real chance in this series to come away with the win. The reason I feel Denver not only has a great chance in game 1 but also a great chance to win the series is that although Oklahoma City got the experience of playoff basketball last year and excelled especially giving the Lakers a scare this year they have to deal with the added pressure of expectations. Last year was all good for the Thunder as no one expected anything from them so what we got we were surprised to see. This year is a different story all together; Thunder fans and the media in general are expecting a rematch with the Lakers. Where there was no pressure at all last year there is tremendous pressure this year. How this young team reacts to this pressure is the key to their playoff fate this year. I think in game 1 we will see some of that pressure surface and the Thunder will struggle to win the game. Denver went 1-3 against Oklahoma City this year and just played them April 8th losing 104-89 on the very same court they will play on Sunday. Sunday should be a different outcome with Denver not only covering but very likely winning the game.
Free NBA Playoff Selection: Denver Nuggets +5.5