When it comes to rivalries between cities, it doesn’t get much bigger than Boston – New York. Whether it’s Sox-Yanks or Patriots-Jets, the build up and in-game tension is matched by no other.
But believe it or not, it might be Celtics-Knicks that’s been the best Boston – New York rivalry over the past few years.
This season, for the first time since Kevin Garnett arrived in Boston, the Celtics didn’t win the Atlantic Division – the Knicks did. The two teams will face off in the opening round of the NBA postseason.
That’s music to a lot of people’s ears, as Celtics-Knicks games – under the spotlight of two major media markets – are always exciting. For sure, Celtics captain Paul Pierce’s ears perked up when he heard the first round tune. Perhaps no current player in the NBA has stepped up – and on – the Knicks as many times as Pierce has.
In 54 career games against the Knicks, Pierce is averaging 23.4 points per game – the most he’s averaged against any other Eastern Conference team in his career.
He’s also taken (444) and made (365) more free throws against the Knicks than any other team in the NBA, converting them at an 82.2-percent rate.
Two games stand out when it comes to Pierce and the Knicks.
The first came on Dec. 15, 2010 with the Celtics at Madison Square Garden. Down seven points to start the fourth quarter, Boston clawed back and took a two-point lead. After Danilo Gallinari hit two free throws, the C’s took the final possession down to 0.4 seconds when Pierce hit a stepback jumper to earn a 118-116 win.
The second was in Game 3 of the NBA’s opening round of the 2011 postseason. Boston was up 2-0 in the series and at MSG, where Pierce made sure the Knicks would go down without a fight. He dropped 38 points on 14-of-18 shooting from the field (6-of-8 from 3-point range) and sent Knicks fans home without a sliver of hope for the series.