NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — The Celtics basically conceded the race for No. 2 in the Eastern Conference when they rested all four of their All-Stars in a 95-94 overtime loss at Washington on Monday.

That locked Boston into a marquee first-round matchup against the sixth-seeded Knicks, something Chauncey Billups thinks the Celtics might later regret.

“I think we are probably, most certainly the most dangerous first-round team in the NBA,” he said. “When I say that it’s because we are new, and we are dangerous. We’ve got a lot of weapons. We can move the scoreboard. I think our defense is a lot better; We’re going to be a tough out.”

Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni says though his team “can compete with anybody at any place,” he has written off the Celtics’ recent struggles, mindful of what they did last year.

“They’re veterans and they’re champions,” D’Antoni said. “That’s the biggest concern. Their mentality is probably better than anybody’s.”

Carmelo Anthony knows how brutal Knicks-Celtics can be. He was on the receiving end of Boston’s rough-and-tumble brand of play, bleeding from a cut above the eye last month after a collision with Rajon Rondo.

“It’s going to be a very intense, high-energy series,” Anthony said. “I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a battle. It’s going to be crazy. We just have to keep our composure. It’s going to be a very physical series. That’s the way they play.”

Anthony, who said leading New York back to the playoffs has been his “number one priority” since joining the Knicks, is ready for some “brutal battles.”

“I can only imagine how that atmosphere is going to be in Boston, in New York,” he said. “New York’s been waiting for a long, long time.”

Do you agree with Billups? Sound off in the comments below…

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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