Amar'e Stoudemire, right is younger and stronger than the Celtics'...

Amar'e Stoudemire, right is younger and stronger than the Celtics' Kevin Garnett, but Garnett is a better all-around player. Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

POINT GUARD

Rajon Rondo vs. Chauncey Billups

Rondo is the catalyst of the Celtics’ offense and he can dominate a game with his ability to penetrate and dish off. Shooting is his weakness (.475 field goal percentage) and the Knicks have generally defended him well (15-for-37 shooting in four games, 0-for-5 in three-point attempts), especially with Jared Jeffries. Billups doesn't have the speed to keep up with Rondo, but his experience and shooting are always a factor. EDGE: Celtics

SHOOTING GUARD

Ray Allen vs. Landry Fields

Clearly the most difficult matchup for the Knicks, mainly because of Allen's ceaseless effort to run off screens and get open for those killer threes (5-for-14 vs. Knicks this season) . Fields has the length to contest, but inexperience is a factor. What Fields needs to go is keep Allen busy on defensive end and, especially, on the boards. Toney Douglas, a relentless defender, will see a lot of time here off the bench. EDGE: Celtics

SMALL FORWARD

Paul Pierce vs. Carmelo Anthony

The first of two marquee matchups. Both are prolific scorers who can explode at any time to take over a game. Pierce, who loves to play the villain (especially in New York) generally picks his spots and can go quiet for a while until he suddenly strikes. Anthony, who also enjoys silencing the crowd, has proven to be one of the toughest to defend in the league and is historically even more clutch than Pierce down the stretch. Knicks will need him to be more than a scorer, but a facilitator. All of the defensive focus will be on him. EDGE: Knicks

POWER FORWARD

Kevin Garnett vs. Amar’e Stoudemire

This could be the matchup that makes or breaks the series for the Knicks. Stoudemire is younger and stronger than Garnett, but he isn’t nearly as complete of a player. Garnett isn’t a dominant scorer, but his defense and rebounding (10.1 rebounds per game vs. Knicks this season) will be the difference for Boston. Stoudemire needs to rediscover his early-season swagger and go after Garnett like he did Tim Duncan and Pau Gasol in the West. If not, the Knicks don’t stand a chance. EDGE: Even

CENTER

Jermaine O’Neal/Shaquille O’Neal vs. Shelden Williams/Ronny Turiaf

This position would have been a heavy advantage to Boston, but Kendrick Perkins now plays in Oklahoma City. The Celtics are now going with a fading Jermaine O’Neal, a 39-year-old Shaquille O’Neal and an unimpressive Nenad Krstic. The Knicks counter with even less, however, as they will start with Shelden Williams and platoon him with Ronny Turiaf, with the hopes their physical nature and 12 fouls can make a difference. The Knicks also may want to go small-ball and make the O’Neals run, which would render them useless. EDGE: Even

BENCH

Jeff Green & Co. vs. Toney Douglas & Co.

Though the Celtics lost a lot when they traded Kendrick Perkins, they did vastly improve their bench in getting back forward Green, who had been a starter for the Thunder. Green gives Boston the ability to play small-ball against the Knicks. Glen Davis, who has the experience of two NBA Finals, and rugged Delonte West are also key players. Toney Douglas will see starters’ minutes for the Knicks and Shawne Williams will be a big part of small-ball, as well. Mike D’Antoni prefers a short rotation and the question is, how deep into his bench will he go? EDGE: Celtics

COACHING

Doc Rivers vs. Mike D’Antoni

Many believe this to be Rivers’ last run with the Celtics and the team has sputtered down the stretch (9-11 since March 9). But that happened last season, too, and Rivers had them back on track in the playoffs for another Finals appearance. Though it’s been a while for the Knicks (since 2003-04), playoff basketball is nothing new to D’Antoni. His roster is incomplete, but he has enough firepower to pull off an upset. Rivers has proven his team is one of the best on defense while these Knicks have routinely struggled at that end of the floor. Defense, as always, will be critical and no doubt deciding. EDGE: Celtics