The Post’s NBA experts make their predictions on the Knicks’ and Nets’ first-round playoff series which begin this weekend:
Marc Berman: The playoffs might turn into the great equalizer with Hawks at full strength and Atlanta point guard Trae Young ready to make his mark in his first postseason. Defense wins regular-season titles, but 3-point shooting has become too omnipresent. I still don’t trust RJ Barrett to be second scoring dynamo next to Julius Randle for seven games. HAWKS in 6
Peter Botte: Tom Thibodeau’s top-ranked defense will stifle Young, John Collins, etc., while Randle and Barrett will excel in their first career playoff tastes. But winning one round will have to be enough for now. KNICKS in 6
Brian Lewis: Despite having fits with the Young-Clint Capela pick-and-roll before Young’s April 21 injury in the Garden, the Knicks still swept Atlanta 3-0 this season. This will be closer, but the same end result. KNICKS in 6
Ian O’Connor: The Knicks’ toughness and defensive intensity should be difference-makers in this series, as should Derrick Rose’s experience off the bench. They went 3-0 against the Hawks in the regular season for a reason. Thibs gets them to Round 2. KNICKS in 6
Mike Vaccaro: Atlanta is so talented, even with 15,000 desperate Knicks fans you can see them steal one of the first two at the Garden, and it has been a familiar and deadly recipe for past Knicks teams, trying to chase. HAWKS in 6
Marc Berman: The Nets will gain sweet revenge on that horrific Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce trade with the Celtics, but I think Boston might prevail one night. The Nets are unlikeable as heck, but they will be spectacular. NETS in 5.
Peter Botte: The Big 3 will handle a banged-up Boston squad — Kyrie Irving’s former team. But their lack of time together will catch up to them in the next round or two, and the Nets will fail to reach the Finals. NETS in 5
Brian Lewis: Boston coach Brad Stevens says it’s hard to picture the Nets losing, and he’s right — at least for this first round. The Nets roll past the Celtics in a gentleman’s sweep. NETS in 5
Ian O’Connor: If the Celtics had Jaylen Brown available, this series could have gotten interesting. But they just don’t have the firepower to stay with the Big 3 for long. Irving could struggle in what should be a high-volume return to Boston, but it won’t much matter. NETS in 5.
Mike Vaccaro: The Nets outclass the Celtics in every way, and the fact that Boston will play short doesn’t help them at all. C’s are good enough to steal one for pride’s sake in Boston, but the Nets will barely break a sweat the other four. NETS in 5
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