T-Will: "We don't like them, they don't like us."; Knicks-Celtics rivalry finally heating up

Via Celtics Town,

If we're being honest with ourselves, it's been a really long time since the Knicks and Celtics rivalry really meant something.

One of the best rivalries of the 70's (when both teams won two titles) and 80's (three playoff match-ups), the teams have been on opposite 'winning cycles' ever since Larry Bird hung them up.

The Knicks were an elite team for the majority of the 1990's, reaching the finals in both 1994 and 1999, and winning at least one playoff series every year for nine seasons (1992-2000). However the Celtics could not reciprocate the success, finishing below .500 every year between 1994 and 2001.

Since 2002, the Celts have flipped the proverbial switch, making the playoffs 10 times in 12 seasons, winning 14 playoff series, reaching the Eastern Conference finals four times, the Finals twice and winning the 2008 title. Short of the Spurs and Lakers, the Celtics have been as competitive as anyone in the NBA. Unfortunately for the Boston-New York rivalry though, the Knicks spent the vast majority of the past decade as the laughing stock of the NBA. Crushed by the Isiah Thomas era, the Knicks have gone 12 years, 11 months and 11 days without winning a playoff series. There are kids in junior high in New York City that have never seen their basketball team in the second round of the playoffs. Wild stuff.

However over the past three seasons the teams have finally lined their cycles up, so to speak (I know, I don't like how it sounds either) and the rivalry has finally re-ignited.

It started in 2011 when the Knicks acquired Carmelo Anthony and made the playoffs for the first time since 2004. Of course they matched up with the Celtics, and the run didn't last very long. The C's swept the overwhelmed Knicks, but both games in Boston were incredibly close, and at the very least the seeds of the rivalry had been planted.

Eight heated match-ups over the past two regular seasons (with the Knicks winning 5) helped foster the hate between the clubs, and now, it appears to be boiling over.

The current series between the two has seen just about everything imaginable through five games. It has seen a dominant 3-0 start by the Knicks where the Celtics looked like a team ready for an immediate re-build. It has seen elbows to the face and a resulting suspension. It has seen the worst shooting performance in NBA history. It has seen funeral black. It has seen a resilient Celtics squad become the 11th team in NBA history (soon to be joined by a 12th, the Houston Rockets) to win consecutive games after trailing 0-3 in a series. It has seen countless comparisons to the 2004 Red Sox, and the greatest comeback in sports history. It has seen fedoras.

And most importantly, it has seen the Knicks-Celtics rivalry reach it's potential.

Now as the series returns to Boston, the Celtics look to push the Knicks to a Game 7, something that has only happened three times in NBA history, and also push the Knicks playoff series winless streak to at least 12 years, 11 months and 13 days. On the other side, the Knicks hope to fulfill the lifelong dreams of a bunch of 7th graders in New York, and visit the 2nd round of the playoffs for the first time since 2000.

That's what's on the line tonight, and it's going to be fun.

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