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Boston’s First Round Opponent: Who Do You Want?


So, let’s have a quick look at possible first round matchups for the Celtics.

At this point, it’s probably going to be one of three teams. Boston could see either Philadelphia, New York or Indiana, depending on how the next three weeks shake out.

The question is: who would you prefer the Celtics draw in round one?

Let’s have a quick look at each, using “analysis”.

New York

  • Key Matchups: Paul Pierce vs. Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudamire vs. Kevin Garnett, Mike D’Antoni’s offense vs Boston’s playoff defense.
  • Best Case Scenario: Boston’s defense unspools the New York offense until ‘Melo and Amare both try to prove they’re the King of New York by jacking up 20 shots apiece. Celtics cruise in four games.
  • Worst Case Scenario: Knicks build chemistry by the playoffs, and ride big city energy to early series lead, forcing Boston to empty the chamber to pull the thing out in 6 or 7 games.
  • Entertainment Factor: Off the charts. Two of the best games of the season have been against New York. Paul Pierce has an ongoing anti-romance with the MSG crowd that could blossom into something deliciously hateful in a playoff environment. Bill Walker could make his triumphant return to sitting on the TD Garden bench in his warmup suit, glowing with untapped upside potential. Media members could regale us with endless stories about New York’s basketball renaissance, followed by cutaways to Isiah Thomas cavorting in a luxury box with James Dolan and Dwight Howard’s extended family. Plus, there’s always the possibility of Mikhail Prokhorov buying up all the in-arena MSG signage to advertise Nets season tickets.
  • Must-watch halftime segment: Charles Barkley accompanies Glen Davis and Shaquille O’Neal on their tour of NYC street food vendors.


  • Key Matchups: Celtics’ aged legs vs. Sixers’ youthful legs, Sixers’ athletic bigs vs Celtics’ once-athletic bigs.
  • Best Case Scenario: Doug Collins’ team proves totally unready for anything more than four quick games of playoff experience. Sixers grab two playoff gates and C’s move quickly onto the next round, all fresh and healthy, like cream cheese slathered on cheese steaks, which incidentally, is the après-victory meal of choice for Davis and Shaq.
  • Worst Case Scenario: A redux of the Hawks first round series from 2008. Boston exhausts its not-quite-as-formidable front-line trying to keep up with the Sixer bigs pogo-sticking all over the court. Game seven legitimately in doubt until the Celtics wake the hell up and win by 20.
  • Entertainment Factor: Medium. The Sixers beat the Celtics this month and it remains their destiny as a mediocre team to cause fits for Boston, even come the second season. The math goes like this for Boston: mo’ athletic teams + mo’ consistent intensity = mo’ problems. Also, 2002 playoff contributor Tony Battie would be returning to Boston. That could be exciting in a not-really-that-exciting kind of way.
  • Must-watch halftime segment: In a tribute to the epic Sixers-Celtics clashes of the early 1980s, Larry Bird and Julius Erving reenact their famous on-court fight until David Stern is forced to suspend Ron Artest for the remainder of the season.


  • Key Matchups: Pierce vs. Danny Granger, Pacers fans vs. Jermaine O’Neal (Does this make sense? Are Pacers fans disappointed in O’Neal? I just assume they are…).
  • Best Case Scenario: Four quick games.
  • Worst Case Scenario: Seven long games.
  • Entertainment Factor: Low. The least-sexy of the three possible opponents, most basketball fans would hold out little hope of an upset, rendering this series a formality. However, if Reggie Miller gets tired of pretending to be excited as he throws TNT games to commercial, he could come out of retirement and either join the Celtics’ squad (Ainge: “he’s just so versatile“) or re-up with Indiana and try and wrest the three-point title back from Ray Allen.
  • Must-watch halftime segment: Focus on corn fields.

So, as you can see, there are many factors to consider when choosing your preferential hypothetical opponent.

Who you got?

  • S.Holmes

    NY for sure.

    • jacksobd

      Listen Holmes!

  • MP!

    Indiana by a mile. Minimal wear and tear on our players. We're simply better than them. Philly would be the toughest, they're athletic and could make it a longer series then necessary.

  • Jeremy

    I’d love to go against New York just because of the entertainment value! What better way to start the MLB season where the Yankees are the so called underdogs and the Red Sox had a great offseason, than a NY-Boston NBA playoff series not long after the NFL post season just featured a NY-Boston match. These two cities are ultimately the mecca of entertainment value.

  • Sam

    Give me Indy every day and twice on Sunday. I don't care about entertainment, I want Banner #18 and the best case scenario is to cruise past the Pacers or Bobcats in the first round before things become serious in the second round.

    It would help Shaq and JO (yeah yeah I know…) to come back and get rythm under their belt.

    I hope to be entertained watching the Bulls, Heat and Magic struggle in the first round!

  • PortugueseCeltic

    Kickass post Ryan, nice to wake up to some laughs this wednesday.

  • LStrike


  • talesofJP

    for the team I want the Pacers, for exciting Basketball I want NY. I'm just hoping we don't end up with Philly

  • jacksobd

    Ryan, You forgot to mention that Chuck, Shaq, and Baby's tour guide would be Eddy Curry. He spent a lot of time in NY not playing basketball and I can only imagine how well he got to know the local eating hotspots. Plus, he could use the job anyway.

    • Ryan DeGama

      Great point. Total analysis failure. That might tip the scales towards NY.

      • John

        If the Knicks lost Curry, I doubt any scale would continue to tip their way.

  • SteveB

    My only goal would be a stunning upset of the Bulls in the first round by anyone.

  • INenadKristic4MVP

    Entertainment all the way. New York please!!. I think we play better when the lights are brighter and stacks higher. I really do not care to watch Rondo vs Darel Collison or Pierce vs Dantey Jones. I want Carmelo and Stat and Chauncey.


  • kricky

    Indy. There will be enough drama in the later rounds. Remember that Bulls series? All time great series, but it took just enough out of us that we couldn't get by Orlando.

    • NHBluesMan

      i don't know if it was that so much as that we didn't have healthy bigs… remember, Baby was starting and Scal was our first sub off the bench. Even if we had Leon Powe playing healthy we had a better chance of pulling out that series against the Magic

      • kricky

        You are right about the missing bigs. But I still thought we could have won that series. We had a game 7 at home. But it just looked like we ran out of gas at the end after so many hard fought games with an undermanned roster. At least that was my impression at the time.

        • NHBluesMan

          i think one was the cause of the other….having more bigs (at least KG or Powe) would have shortened the Chicago series AND given us more against Orlando

  • Jobin

    I'd rather get Indy, NYK is far more likely to give CHI and/or MIA trouble than Indy would.

    Cs drop Indy in 4-5, then rest up while CHI/MIA have a potentially extended 1st round series with NYK.

  • CsFanInArkansas

    Great post, DeGama. We can always count on you CeltsHub writers for quality stuff…

    Does anyone have any updates on the O'Neal brothers and their return dates?

    I wouldn't mind if Shaq would come back and finish the season like we started it with him – winning a lot of games! I'm thinking 14-18 minutes a night for him for the next 13 games (with a game or two off on those SEGABABAs) would be kinda nice.

    I thought JO announced that he would be back before the end of the regular season…has anyone sent word to him in Chi-town that the end of the regular season is getting very close?

    • kricky

      Yeah WTF is he doing in Chicago?? I hate this shit. He should at least be with the damned team.

      • CsFanInArkansas

        "Rehabbing" or something, I guess…

        I wasn't ever that high on the JO pick-up (just because he seemed broken down), but I think if a dude's getting paid $6mil he could at least be a good bench cheerleader. I don't know what Chicago has for JO that he can't get/do in Beantown. He could be building a relationship with the guys, maintaining some sense of chemistry, cheering for them from the bench during games…you know, teammate stuff. This just seems like we're paying a complete stranger $6mil for the hell of it.

        Plus, doesn't the energy from being around your teammates help motivate you to get healthy and back to them faster?

        I don't really get this.

        • kricky

          Right. Look how Delonte dealt with his downtime. Stayed with the team and it's really helped him ease back in.

  • ElRoz

    I'd rather have Indiana, except I am not thrilled about beating a team associated with Larry Bird – he is their president or something. I want to cheer the Pacers on when they play the Bulls and I'd love for Boston to eliminate the Knicks……but in the end, I'll take my nerves over sentiment and select Indiana, especially since it means Boston has a #1 seed..

    • http://twitter.com/M_DeVelaine @M_DeVelaine

      Roger that. Pacers solely by virtue of facing them would mean top seed. Though… We can hope that we get top seed and someone else takes #8 from them.

  • Batman

    I want Charlotte
    They are sooooooo bad

  • Chris

    Philly's athletic young bigs? Pogo-sticking all over the court?

    Huh? What am I missing? The Sixers start Elton Brand (32 years old, one micro-fracture, 34 minutes/game) and Spencer Hawes (un-athletic jump shooter, vaguely disinterested defender and rebounder). No "pogo-sticking" here.

    Thadeus Young is a 6-8 tweener… a very poor man's Jeff Green and Marrese Speights plays 12 minutes/game. Are these the guys that we are supposed to be quaking in our boots about?

    And before someone says "Iguodala plays a lot at the 4," he doesn't. He's played 2% of the team's minutes at the 4 and logged a net48 of -11.7 (82games.com).

    If Philly takes Boston to 5 games, it would be a huge moral victory for them.

    • BH24

      I think Ryan is referring to how much more athletic the 76ers have looked than the C's every time they've played this year… In a perfect world we could chalk that up to the C's not caring about playing a middling team in the regular season and they'd blow them out in the playoffs, but so far they've been close games – wins by 1 and 3 and a loss by 4.

  • Janos

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