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Have The Knicks Caught Up With The Celtics?

Amare Stoudemire and the New York Knicks may be a new contender in the East. (Photo by Winslow Townson/AP)

Carmelo Anthony played his first game with the New York Knicks Wednesday night, scoring 27 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in a win over the Milwaukee Bucks. Although this win was against a 22-35 team, it started the Knicks second half of the season on the right foot. New York made this trade with intentions to put Melo and the Knicks in a great position to contend with powerhouse teams in the East such as the Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic, Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat.

Meanwhile, at the trade deadline Thursday, Danny Ainge and the Celtics decided to make a few deals of their own. The trade that seems most significant at this point is that which sent Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic.  This trade and the Knicks acquisition of Melo now raises a few questions. Are the Celtics still the best in the Atlantic Division?  Can the Knicks contend with the Celts?

How Dangerous Are the Knicks?

We saw that it took a while for the “Big Three” in Miami to mesh and play well together, but the question is how long will it take these three players on the Knicks. With Chauncey Billups being 34 years old and already playing with Carmelo Anthony, it seems that it won’t take to long. Billups has won an NBA finals MVP and he has always been known to be one of the most clutch point guards in the game.  Add that to two prolific scoring superstars and your team looks pretty good.

The new Knicks have one of the most dangerous pick and roll mixes in the game. Who do you cover? If Amare Stoudemire comes up to set a screen, you can either hedge or attempt to get over it.  Don’t get there in time and Billups will make you pay from long range.  Billups is a career 39% three-point shooter and has been cashing in over 44% this year. Then again, try and hedge to stop Billups and Amare drops down for an easy dunk.  Now your thinking, what happens if neither of those options are there? Easy. Kick it out to Carmelo on the wing and let him go one on one with another defender.  The New York Knicks have developed a team that has three lethal options to score and can be scary if they all mesh right away.

Can They Beat the Celtics?

One of the thoughts behind the Knicks trade is that they gave up too much and people are wondering if they will have enough depth in the playoffs.  The answer is probably not. Although the Knicks have the makeup of a very dangerous team, the Celtics are just too experienced.  Although giving up Perkins will hurt a lot on the defensive side come playoff time and definitely ruin some team chemistry, they still have plenty of depth at that position.  The Celtics are going to rely on both O’Neal’s, Kevin Garnett, Glen Davis, Nenad Krstic, and will hopefully follow through with an acquisition of a big man like Troy Murphy.

If all of these players get healthy for the playoffs, it will be too much for the Knicks to handle. Rajon Rondo is too young and too quick for Chauncey Billups and he will open up the court for players like Ray Allen and Paul Pierce to get hot. The presence of Garnett in the middle will slow down the explosiveness of Stoudemire, and Doc Rivers will figure out a way to control Carmelo Anthony.

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