Knicks work on a plan of attack
“I don’t pay attention to it,’’ D’Antoni said last night. “They had issues last year and it wasn’t an issue. I’m not counting on any of that. They will be juiced up and ready to go, and they’re a great team. I’m sure we’ll get their best and they’ll get our best.’’
Neither team offered its best last night, as the Celtics took a 112-102 victory at TD Garden in what was decidedly not a playoff preview.
“Boston is the champion until they get knocked off in the Eastern Conference,’’ D’Antoni said. “They deserve the title.
“You’re playing against, I lost count, how many Hall of Famers? They’re seasoned and ready to roll, and champions. Obviously, it’s a challenge for us and we’ve just been put together for a month or two. We’re ready and confident as we can be. But we know that Boston has a great tradition and a great team.’’
D’Antoni is being careful not to underestimate the Celtics. And the Knicks seem confident they can match up with Boston.
But both the Celtics and Knicks have made major trades recently, the newcomers changing expectations for this series.
“There’s some teams who will key on players and try to take those guys out of the game,’’ the Knicks’ Amar’e Stoudemire said. “The great thing about us as a team is we have so many great players who contribute, so if we get everybody to play well it’s going to be hard to beat us.’’
By adding Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups to complement Stoudemire, the Knicks believe they have a triple threat.
“We’re both great offensive players,’’ Stoudemire said of his pairing with Anthony. “I think the key for us, if we just continue to play hard as we can and get other guys involved, we’re going to be hard to stop. I think Boston knows it. They’re focusing in on us as we’re focusing in on them. It’s going to be a great matchup.
“When it comes down to the postseason, we all know what it takes. I’ve been there pretty much every year.’’
But the Knicks had only a .500 record in 28 games since the trade. And, since the Knicks’ Big Three came together, they have an 8-10 record in the 18 games in which the threesome performed together.
So D’Antoni is hoping the Knicks’ role players can complement the stars.
“We have to have guys that do the little things,’’ D’Antoni said. “It’s going to be crucial getting loose balls and rebounds and getting into people, understanding what we’re doing and, then, making big plays.
“We’re going to have to play some defense. We’re going to have to get into them, and the biggest thing is we’re going to have to move the ball. They’re a really good defensive lineup. If we move, we’ll find shots, and that’s going to be huge.
“But it’s the little things, the in-between game, loose balls or rebounds, boxing out. And, if we consciously do them, I think we have two guys that can bring it home at the end of games.’’
Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.