Chauncey Billups hopes Toney Douglas doesn't have the chance to prove him right.

"I think that he's ready for an opportunity like this one. I hope he doesn't get it," Billups said yesterday of Douglas starting in Game 2 tonight. "That means I'll be back out there.

"But he's ready. He's ready. Toney's ready, man."

Douglas will have to be, because Billups is expected to miss Game 2 against the Celtics with a strained left knee he suffered in the final minute of the Knicks' 87-85 Game 1 loss. It will be up to Douglas to run the point, guard Rajon Rondo and orchestrate the Knicks' offense.

That's hardly easy.

And Douglas will only be playing in his second career postseason game.

"I'm ready," the 25-year-old said, adding he thinks he can handle Rondo. "That's just me being a player. No matter if he's a good player or not, I'm ready to take on the challenge and play defense and do what I've got to do to help the team win."

In his postseason debut, Douglas had a mediocre Game 1, scoring eight points on 3-for-8 shooting from the field and 2-for-5 from 3-point range. He actually was nearly the hero, drilling a 3 from the wing with 37.8 seconds left after Billups exited with his injury. The shot gave the Knicks an 85-82 lead.

But the Knicks didn't score again.

Coach Mike D'Antoni said last week that the Celtics are "a little bit of a barometer of [Douglas'] game," and Douglas has not fared well against the Celtics this season. Including Game 1, the Knicks are 0-5 versus Boston and Douglas has averaged just 7.6 points on 36.1 shooting from the field and 31.8 shooting from three.