With a win last night over Indiana, the New York Knicks clinched the second seed in the Eastern Conference and a first-round matchup against Boston. Given both teams’ recent history against each other, it’s probably not a surprise, then, that today’s big news is that Carmelo Anthony still doesn’t really get the Celtics. From ESPN New York:
“That’s in the back of our minds,” Anthony said of the 2011 defeat. “We want to beat Boston. I mean, let’s be quite frank … This playoff series for myself, it’s very important for us as a team, as a city, as an organization. We’re looking forward to this season.”
Of course Carmelo wants to beat the Celtics. That part makes perfect sense. You want to advance in the playoffs, you want to beat a divisional rival, you want to move on.
But suggesting that the Boston series means more to you personally? Melo. Buddy. THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE CELTICS WANT.
We can talk for days about how Boston’s defense will improve with Garnett finally playing consistently in the playoffs and how Brandon Bass and Courtney Lee (maybe) are coming around and how Jeff Green has been an all-star in the second half of the season.
But once we’ve talked ourselves to death and discussed every possible angle from an X’s and O’s standpoint, we need to acknowledge that Boston wins games on a combination of X’s and O’s and the weird things throughout a series that motivate them. Quentin Richardson called the Celtics “actresses” in 2010 and helped jump-start Boston into a trip to the Finals. A long-standing beef with LeBron and the Heat nearly led to a beyond-shocking upset last year. With nearly every expert picking New York (thereby motivating Boston already) and with the Celtics finally having some semblance of health for KG and Pierce, why would Melo admit that this series means something more to him than an average playoff series?
Don’t get me wrong: Melo is an incredible player who COULD destroy Boston offensively if he got hot at the right time. But he’s crazy if handing the Celtics a tack and a printed sheet of billboard material is a gamble he’s willing to take.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.