The Knicks will play one of two teams in the first round, a team that's been to the Finals two of the last three years, or the team many people were saying were the favorites in the preseason.

New York can only remain as a sixth seed or dip to the seventh seed. The Celtics and Heat, on the other hand, are battling for the second seed.

So the Knicks can be granted the right to look ahead and explore how they would game plan against either team.

First, lets look at the defending Eastern Conference champions.

Like the Knicks, the Celtics have made changes to their roster. Gone are big man Kendrick Perkins and point guard Nate Robinson. In their place are center Nenad Krstic and forward Jeff Green.

Since the trade, the Celtics have a record of 13-9. There was some dissent in the ranks at the loss of Perkins.

Against the Knicks, Boston has won all three games, which included a March 21st game at Madison Square Garden. Kevin Garnett led all scorers with 24, and tied for the most rebounds in the game at 11.

Garnett has played particularly strong against the Knicks in the season series. He's averaged 22.7 points per game, on 62.5 percent shooting.

Boston has veteran leadership, and the duo of Garnett and Nenad Krstic, who is averaging 9.1 points per game and shooting 52 percent from the field, may give the Knicks problems. After Amare Stoudemire, the Knicks lack low-scoring big men, and are weak in interior defense.

While Boston is strong in the slow, half-court game, the Knicks are not particularly strong in that type of set.

That leaves us with the Miami Heat.

Miami acquired Mike Bibby on March 3rd, but the results have been mixed. The Heat have just 11 wins in 18 games, with Bibby averaging a little better than 26 minutes per game.

The Knicks have fared better against the Heat than Boston.The series between the two teams is tied a two a piece, but when the two teams played most recently, the Knicks were able to beat the Heat in Miami, thanks to their new addition Carmelo Anthony, who led all scorers with 29 points.

Anthony has also been efficient in defending LeBron James.

The addition of Chauncey Billups helps the Knicks, as well. The veteran guard will have less trouble guarding Bibby than he would Celtics' point guard Rajon Rondo.

The Heat are strong in three areas: small forward (James), shooting guard (Dwyane Wade), and power forward (Chris Bosh). After that, the Heat lack scoring. That plays well for New York, especially considering Landry Fields can perhaps contain Wade.

The Knicks, though they lack depth, could face in a Miami team a squad that lacks depth as much or worse than they do.

So, it appears that Miami would be the better match-up than Boston.