The Boston Celtics, among the most storied and successful NBA teams, have undoubtedly acquired some rivals since their establishment in 1946. Some NBA tems have distinguished themselves from the rest as the Celtics' major rivals over the course of more than seven decades.
The following five teams always look to defeat the Celtics everytime they meet and you'll notice it even in the NBA odds.
1. Detroit Pistons
Considering that the Pistons have advanced to the playoffs twice in the past 11 seasons, the rivalry between Detroit and Boston isn't as strong as it once was. However, some of the most intense matchups in recent memory occurred in the 1980s in the Conference, with Larry Bird and Kevin McHale and Isiah Thomas and the "Bad Boy" Pistons.
The Pistons and Celtics faced off five times in the playoffs between 1985 and 1991, including twice in the Conference Finals. Boston has a 5-3 overall playoff series record versus Detroit, with the most recent game occurring in the 2008 Eastern Conference Final.
2. Miami Heat
While there isn't much animosity between the Celtics and Heat today, it was considerably stronger a decade ago. When LeBron James transferred his skills to South Beach after having trouble defeating the Big 3 of the Boston Celtics while playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the rivalry really flared up.
LeBron and the Heat were eventually able to defeat Boston as the Celtics' core started to get older. Miami and Boston share a combined regular-season record of 75-47, but the Heat have a 9-8 advantage in the postseason.
3. New York Knicks
Because the Knicks have spent the greater part of a decade rebuilding, the rivalry between the Celtics and Knicks isn't as strong as it once was. However, there will always be some animosity between New York and Boston teams, and these teams are no exception.
These two clubs have met 15 times in the postseason, dating all the way back to 1951, with Boston having a slim 8-7 advantage. With the exception of the 2000s, the rivalry has been fought in postseason play every decade, and if New York can get back to contending, we could see more of that in the 2020s.
4. Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers and Celtics have met 568 times overall, beginning with the Bill Russell versus Wilt Chamberlain clashes of the 1960s, continuing with Dr. J versus Bird in the early 1980s, and now being revived in recent playoff series.
In the 1990s and 2000s, the rivalry took a slight dip. But now that both teams are back in the mix, there's no denying that the rivalry between the two clubs is on the upswing.
5. Los Angeles Lakers
This is a no-brainer. The Celtics and Lakers feud is the greatest and most illustrious in the NBA. These two teams' rivalry is so strong and well-known that it even inspired a Celtics/Lakers: Best of Enemies documentary for ESPN's 30 for 30 series.
There have been 12 NBA Finals matchups between these two teams, with Boston dominating 9-3. Even still, there are no hard feelings whenever these two teams clash because they are the two most prosperous clubs in NBA history. Ten of those twelve Finals series lasted at least six games, and the rivalry still exists today between Los Angeles and Boston.