Knicks-Bulls: Playoff Tune-up, Vol. 1

I’m writing this from the fourth row of the Bolt Bus en route to New York City.  Left side, aisle seat – in case you’re the girl sitting next to me, you’re reading this on your laptop and want to say hi.  Anyway, I just had to get out of Boston for a while.  The arrogance ahead of this series – not even the arrogance, more the sheer disregard of the Knicks – is too stifling.  An actual exchange I had with my roommate last night during the Celtics-Wizards game:

Me: “If the Celtics lose this game, they get the Knicks in the first round.”

Him: (Continues to stare at pictures of Jewish singles on his laptop)

Me: “This doesn’t bother you at all?”

Him: (Still on J-Date)

Me: “Really? Knicks and Sixers, and you have absolutely no preference?”

Him: “Who would ever date a girl from Mattapan?”

After that, I knew I needed to go home for a while. If you missed the game last night, the Celtics essentially chose a night off a week before the playoffs over a chance at a stout but ultimately toothless Sixers club in round one.  The big four took the night off and the Celtics fell in overtime to the Wizards, clinching a matchup with the Knicks.  You can read this one of two ways: either a) the Celtics are arrogant enough to believe that the Knicks are as little threat to them as Philadelphia, or b) the Celtics are really, really gassed.  Either way, it’s great news for the Knicks.

A little injury news: Amar’e Stoudemire will not dress tonight, and it isn’t looking good for tomorrow night either.  It’s just a precautionary measure, however, and all signs point to a fresh Amar’e for game one this weekend.  Boston’s Delonte West also went down last night with a sprain of the same ankle that kept him out for two weeks in March; his return is indefinite but if I had to bet I’d say we won’t see him ‘til later in the series.  Finally, Danny Ainge seems like he’s trying to convince himself that Shaq would be healthy and ready for game one.

Tonight, barring more last-second healthy scratches, the Bulls will start Rose, Bogans, Deng, Boozer and Noah.  Similarities between the Bulls and Celtics off the top of my head: they protect the rim very well; they know no other way of playing but to give maximum effort; they aren’t particularly good jump-shooting teams; they are spearheaded by elite penetrating point guards who hate each other, although you can’t just leave Derrick Rose open anymore; they are the only two teams who allow fewer than 98 points per 100 possessions; and they probably all wish they played in Madison Square Garden instead of the two-horse towns they’re forced to pander to now.

Excuse me – that was inappropriate.  (Especially since I live in Boston.  Why do I live there again?)  Oh, hey, my bus is nearing the city.  It’s good to be home again.  Enjoy the game, enjoy the prospect of the playoffs, and Mike will give all of you the recap you deserve.

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