The playoffs are the greatest and most intense time of the year. Being a part of bringing high-level basketball back to New York City is very special, and having the opportunity to share my championship experience with my teammates and the city is an honor. Having been to the postseason in Detroit and Denver, I know how important our appearance is to New York. Our fans expect a lot. There’s nothing like the spotlight of this city, and it’s rare to find a city that is willing to stand beside you through battle like I’ve seen since becoming a Knick. No fair-weather fans here. That’s what makes these playoffs something I’m definitely looking forward to.
As a veteran, my goal is to help our team advance out of the first round and hit the Eastern Conference finals with confidence. I’ve told my teammates, especially those who have not been here before, that our only expectation of ourselves is to have a solid showing, one that we can be proud of. We’re facing a championship team. [Celtics point guard Rajon] Rondo will have to be contained, and with Ray [Allen], K.G. [Kevin Garnett], Paul [Pierce] ... well, we’ll have our work cut out for us!
Personally, not much changes with my preparation in the playoffs. I’ll focus more on my mental preparation than the physical. That’s one thing I’m trying to teach T.D. [Toney Douglas]. He’s such a smart player, very analytical, so we talk through a lot of plays and schemes and break down different scenarios. I think this helps build his confidence and will be what makes him a successful point guard.
From a team standpoint, our challenges will be size and experience. Boston will rebound solidly and play crafty. Between me and my fellow teammates who’ve been there before, we’ve been talking a lot in the locker room about what to expect. There’s no denying experience is the best teacher at this point in the season. But what we may lack in experience, we more than make up for in heart and toughness. Our guys are going to surprise a lot of people.
Chauncey Billups, 34, is the Knicks’ starting point guard and a 2004 NBA champion with the Detroit Pistons. Madison Square Garden, which controls the Knicks, is run by the same ownership as amNewYork’s parent company, Cablevision.