By Jesse Schneiderman

After knocking off Mighty ‘Melo and the Denver Nuggets earlier this week, the Knicks face their two biggest tests of the young season, taking on the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat at the World’s Most Famous Arena on Wednesday and Friday, respectively. Let’s be frank: They’ll probably lose. While the Knicks actually match up quite well with Boston’s big three (Ray Allen may kill Landry Fields if he’s making shots, but Wilson Chandler and Amare can handle Paul Pierce and KG, hopefully), the other parts of the lineup can give them problems. Miami is a whole different animal. Dwayne Wade, Lebron James, and Chris Bosh could easily kill the Knicks like they’ve been doing to the rest of the league recently; the difference is the Knicks have the advantage at nearly every other part of the lineup. How will they fare in the two matchups? Let’s take a closer look.

How the Knicks will beat Boston:

New York actually matches up fairly well with Boston’s big three. If Landry Fields can hold down the fort against Ray Allen, and Wilson Chandler can use his overall lankiness to his advantage against Paul Pierce, they should be contained. The way “The Apostrophe” has been playing recently, he shouldn’t have any issues with Kevin Garnett (although he may get called a “cancer”), stifling the big three almost entirely. If the Knicks can stretch the floor with Danillo Gallinari, Chandler, the artist formally known as Shawne Williams, and the rest of their squad, they’ll give the Celtics a run for their money. The key guy here is Gallinari. If the big Italian is stroking it like he does on his best days, Boston may be in a load of trouble.

How Boston will beat the Knicks:

In two words: everyone else. If you haven’t noticed, I am yet to mention some guy named Rajon Rondo? He’s the biggest concern for New York. If he can get to the basket on Raymond Felton, which I anticipate he will do easily, it’ll force Amare or Turiaf to rotate over, leaving the big men open under the basket. If they’re not open inside, expect Rondo to look for Jesus Shuttlesworth and the prettiest shot in the history of the league to punish the Knicks.

What will happen:

The Knicks will probably lose, but in a much closer game than you would think. Experience wins out as Boston has been playing games like this for the last three seasons, compared to the Knicks doing so for only the last two months.

How the Knicks beat Miami:

A little bit of luck, for starters. The Knicks best matchups feature their co-captains, Stoudamire and Felton. The “1” spot on the floor has been an Achilles Heel for the Heat defensively all season long, so if Raymond Felton goes off, the Knicks could take this one. You can bet that Amare will have a chip on his shoulder, considering that the all mighty Dwayne Wade (along with LBJ) chose to play with Chris Bosh over him, so I expect him to go off. Once again, their best bet is stretching the floor with “The Rooster” & Co., while relying on the crowd to rattle James a bit. Granted, he didn’t flinch in his version of “Homecoming” (with no Rick Reilly present, thankfully), so it’s improbable that the New Yorker faithful will shake him. To paraphrase Lebron’s favorite question: “What should [the Knicks] do?” Well, Wilson Chandler needs to frustrate James defensively and Landry Fields needs to hold D-Wade to less than 30 points. Personally, I’m not at all concerned about Bosh. If Amare and Felton put the team on their shoulders and get some defense/luck to boot, the Knicks can win this game.

How Miami beats the Knicks:

If Miami’s All-World Swingmen play like, well, All-World Swingmen, the Knicks are in more trouble than Eddy Curry at a Sizzler. Knicks’ fans can clearly envision Wade beating Landry Fields off the dribble on every possession, forcing the defense out of whack with rotations and opening up the middle for Bosh and Center on a veteran’s minimum contract A, B, or C. If Wade can’t do it, expect Lebron to take over in typical Lebron fashion.  Either way, the Knicks will struggle with the Heat if their defense doesn’t prevail.

What will Happen?

The Knicks can’t run and gun with Miami, so they need to shut down the big guns defensively. I can’t envision this happening, as they haven’t shut anybody down all season. I expect big games out of Amare and Ray Felton, but next to nothing from everyone else. The Heat will most likely take this one.

If the Knicks make it through this two game stretch 1-1, they’ll be ecstatic, and so will I. I wouldn’t expect it though. This is the first true test for New York since being deemed a “good team,” and we’ll have to wait and see how they handle it. If they fail, don’t panic. Remember, there’s a whole three quarters of the season remaining and after all, this is only a test.


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