By John Schmeelk
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The Knicks will begin their most important playoff run in more than a decade on Saturday against the team that has been the class of the Eastern Conference since 2007.
Though the Celtics are missing their starting point guard, are yet another year older and have been only a .500 team for most of the year, it’ll be a challenging matchup for the Knicks.
What to watch when the Knicks have the ball:
This will be a classic matchup between the third-best offense in the league and the sixth-best defense. According to Synergy Sports, the Knicks’ best scoring plays come in isolation (No. 5 in NBA), on spot-up jumpers (No. 2) and when the pick-and-roll ball-handler scores (No. 2). The Celtics are the second-best defensive team in the NBA against isolation, second-best against spot up jumpers and No. 1 at preventing the pick-and-roll ball-handler from scoring. Like many defensive teams, the Celtics are great at helping the primary defender and discouraging opponents from getting into the lane. They then rotate back to the shooters to prevent open looks. They also have one of the best perimeter defenders in the game in Avery Bradley, who will no doubt hound Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith all series long.