BOSTON — Playoff experience can, at times, be the difference between advancing to the next round or having to advance one's plans for the summer.
For the Boston Celtics, this has been an edge they've had over most opponents, in the regular season and, of course, in the playoffs. It's among the many reasons the C's have advanced to at least the second round of the playoffs every year since Kevin Garnett came aboard prior to the 2007-08 season.
But the veteran trump card won't be in play to the extent it has in past years, not since their first-round playoff series is against the oldest team in the league, the New York Knicks.
"That's obviously a concern," said coach Doc Rivers, referring to New York's bevy of veteran players. "Veterans show very well in the playoffs. That's something we usually have the upper hand on, and they do."
Even with the retirement of former Celtic Rasheed Wallace, the Knicks still have a roster filled with some of the league's oldest players.
The Knicks didn't waste any time filling the roster spot vacated by Wallace, 38. New York replaced him with 31-year-old Earl Barron, who in 2010 grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds against the Celtics.
Of the Knicks' 15 players, nine are at least 30 years old with the average player being 31.1 years old. Even New York's rookies are old, with Chris Copeland and Pablo Prigioni being 29 and 34 years old, respectively.
Conversely, the C's 15-man roster includes just four players (Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Chris Wilcox) who are at least 30 years of age, with the Celtics' average player being 27.5 years old.
Jeff Green said "effort" and "playing tough" are the best ways to combat the experience disadvantage that the Celtics will be facing.
"They have guys who know what it takes, but we still have guys who know how to play the game," said Green who has played a total of 15 playoff games in his four NBA seasons. "It's five-on-five, the best team wins. We just have to make sure we bring the effort."
Not only does New York have veteran players, but it has vets who have won at the highest level both at the collegiate level (Camelo Anthony, national title at Syracuse University in 2003) and in the pros (Tyson Chandler and Jason Kidd won an NBA title with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011).
"But we have some guys that have played a lot, too," Rivers said.
Namely, Pierce and Garnett, who are the only active players from the 2008 title team. (Rajon Rondo, the other remaining '08 member, has been out since suffering a torn right ACL injury on Jan. 25 against the Atlanta Hawks.) Boston also has Terry, who won an NBA title (with current Knicks Tyson Chandler and Jason Kidd) as a member of the Mavericks in 2011.
"And [New York] can't play everybody," Rivers said. "They can't play all the veterans; like I always say, there's only five guys on the floor at one time. And Paul and Kevin will be on that floor, and that's good experience.
"It'll be a fun series."