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Flip Saunders breaks down what makes Celtics a tough match-up for Knicks

Washington Wizards coach Flip Saunders watches the final

Washington Wizards coach Flip Saunders watches the final minutes of the Wizards' game against the Orlando Magic. (Jan. 4, 2012) Credit: AP

ESPN analyst Flip Saunders broke down the Knicks-Boston series on a conference call and said you “don’t ever count them out,” with respect to the Celtics.

Saunders was an advisor for the Celtics last season and coached Kevin Garnett for years in Minnesota so he has a good perspective.

“As Doc has always said, this team is always built for the playoffs,” Saunders said. “What I mean by that, is they're built with their defense to lock down defensively. They're built that the longer they play a team in a playoff series, the better they become defensively because they understand even more so what type of wrinkles and counters teams are trying to run against them.

“I think this is going to be one of the most intriguing series of the first rounds that we have because the strength of New York is their ability to shoot the basketball on the perimeter, and one of the strengths of Boston's defense is their ability to contest three point shots and take away three point percentage shooting. So if they can do that, they really take away a key ingredient of what the New York Knicks do to have success.

“And then the other factor when I look at the Knicks, the Knicks are a team that's last in the league in assists so they're very much an isolation type team, they want you to come trap, really extend your defense, and anyone that watches Boston a lot knows their defense is a pack it in type defense. They're going to zone it up, they're going to load up, and playing a team that maybe doesn't move the ball a lot and has multiple action plays right into Boston's hands. So I think from a team standpoint I believe that those are big keys.”

“Individually when you look at both Pierce and Garnett, Doc has done a great job as he always does down the stretch of resting those guys. I think you'll see those guys are going to be very well rested. I believe that both those guys are key.

“When I say that, Boston inverts their offense so you are going to see Garnett at 20 feet a lot. So he's going to take Chandler away from the basket, which a lot times becomes a problem for NBA teams when their center is playing 20, 21 feet away from the basket, and Paul Pierce at times he's going to be matched up against Carmelo.

“You have to get Carmelo matched up against Paul Pierce because I always believe the best was to stop somebody like Carmelo is to make him defend and make him run through a lot of screens, pick and rolls and screens off the ball. So you don't want Carmelo to rest on defense where he has all that energy as far as on offense.”

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