W2W4: Knicks vs. Celtics (Game 1)

The Knicks spent the past six months scratching and clawing to get to Saturday. Now the real season begins.

This afternoon, the Knicks start what they hope will be a long playoff run when they face the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden.

Here are a few things to keep an eye on during Game 1 of the first-round series; tipoff is at 3 p.m.:

MELO'S TIME: There are plenty of variables at play in this series, but the Knicks know they'll probably go only as far as Carmelo Anthony takes them.

Anthony brings a spotty playoff record into the 2013 postseason. He's made it out of the first round just once in nine appearances.

He's also won just 31.5 percent of his playoff games, the lowest winning percentage among players with a regular-season scoring average of at least 20 points, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Anthony scored well against the Celtics during the regular season, but he didn't do so very efficiently. He averaged 25.3 points in four games against Boston, but shot just 35 percent from the field.

Still, if recent history is any indication, Anthony should be just fine. HE averaged a near double-double in April, scoring 36.9 pointers and pulling down 9.9 per game.

NO PRIGIONI? If Pablo Prigioni can't play, Mike Woodson will turn to either James White or Chris Copeland to start on Saturday. Both players would be making their postseason debut.

And, Woodson's decision could affect how the Knicks defend Paul Pierce.

If White is in the starting five, he could be used to help guard Pierce at times. But if Woodson opts to start Copeland, which seems more likely, he'd have to turn to others to help on Pierce because Copeland has struggled on the defensive end.

Pierce averaged 21.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists against the Knicks in four regular-season games.

THE IMPORTANCE OF GAME 1: According to Elias, the team that's won Game 1 has gone on to win 61 of 80 series since the first round was expanded to a best-of-seven format in 2003. Teams that won Game 1 at home won 51 of 58 first-round series (88 percent); teams that won Game 1 on the road won 10 of 22 series (45 percent).

Boston is 52-5 all-time when they win Game 1 of a best-of-seven series. The Celtics are 10-17 when they lose Game 1.

The Knicks are 13-6 all-time when they win Game 1 of a best-of-seven series. They are 4-19 when they lose Game 1.

This is the 14th postseason meeting between Boston and New York. Only Boston and Philadelphia have more postseason meetings (19)in NBA history.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.