Celtics–Knicks rivalry

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Celtics–Knicks rivalry
Teams involved
  • Boston Celtics
  • New York Knicks
First contested December 7, 1946
Number of meetings 521 meetings
Most recent meeting January 28, 2014
(Madison Square Garden)
Next meeting TBD
All-time series 314–207 (BOS)
Regular season series 278-176 (BOS)
Postseason results 36–31 (BOS)
Longest win streak
Current streak W1 (NYK)[1]
Post-season history

The Celtics–Knicks rivalry is a basketball rivalry between the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association. The Celtics and Knicks are two of only three remaining charter franchises (the other being the Golden State Warriors) from the inaugural Basketball Association of America, which began operations in 1946.[2]

The rivalry between these two teams mirrors the fierce competition between the Boston and New York City sports teams, as evidenced by the Red Sox–Yankees rivalry and the Jets–Patriots rivalry. Boston and New York City are only 190 miles apart, and both cities' professional sports teams are among the most historic in professional sports history.[2][3][4] The Celtics and Knicks were both established in 1946 as charter franchises of the Basketball Association of America, and are the two oldest teams still playing in their original city today.



The first playoff meeting between the two franchises was in the Division Semifinals of the 1950-51 season. This was the first round of the playoffs and was a best-of-three series. Knicks won game 1 in Boston and game 2 at home. Knicks eliminated the Celtics and got to the NBA Finals, but lost to the Rochester Royals. The clubs squared off in the Division Semifinals once again in the following season. This time, the Celtics were able to win game one at home, before tied the series at home at 1-1. Game 3 was a tough, double overtime showdown in Boston, but Knicks came out on top 88-87. Once again, Knicks went to the finals and lost to the Lakers. In the 1952-53 season, the teams met in the Division Finals, a best-of-five series. Knicks won game 1, Celtics on game 2, each on their home-court. Knicks won both games 3 and 4 to win the series but lose to the Lakers in the Finals once again. Despite 3 Conference Championships from the help of future hall of famers: Dick McGuire and Harry Gallatin, Knicks never claimed an NBA title in the 50's. For the 1953-54 season, the teams played in Round-Robin as well as the Syracuse Nationals. This meant the 3 teams each played each other twice, and the one with the lowest winning % is eliminated. Syracuse went 4-0, Celtics went 2-2, and Knicks went 0-4. Syracuse eliminated Celtics in the following round. In the 1954-55 season, teams played each other in the Division Semifinals. Celtics won the first game in Boston, Knicks won the second one in New York, and Celtics wrapped it up with a win in game 3 but lost to the Nationals in the next round. That was the last postseason meeting between the two teams till '66. Knicks For the rest of the decade, Knicks never advanced past the first round, while Celtics won NBA Championships in the 1956-57, 1958-59, and 1959-60 seasons.


The Celtics major success continued into the 60's as they were champions every season from 1959-66. They were led by Bob Cousy, Sam Jones, Frank Ramsey, Bill Russell, Satch Sanders, Tom Heinsohn, and K.C. Jones who all either had their number retired by the Celtics, or were inducted to the hall of fame. Knicks on the other hand, continued their major struggles by not qualifying for the playoffs from 1960-66. When Knicks finally made it back to the playoffs in the 1966-67 season, they met the seemingly unstoppable Celtics in the Division Semifinals. Celtics won the first two games but Knicks fought back to win game 3. Celtics ended the series with a win in New York, but did not win an NBA title that season as they were defeated by the Philadelphia 76ers in the next round. Celtics claimed another title in 1968. In the 1968-69 season, the teams squared of in the Division Finals. Celtics took games 1 and 2, but Knicks took game 3. Celtics won game 4 by only one point, then Knicks won game 5, but Celtics won the series with another 1 point win en route to winning another NBA title.


In the 1969-70 season, Celtics missed the postseason for the first time in 19 seasons. Meanwhile, Coach of the Year, Red Holzman, Dick Barnett, Dave DeBusschere, Bill Bradley, Walt "Clyde" Frazier, and MVP Willis Reed led them to their first championship. In the 1971-72 season, the two teams met in the Conference Finals. Knicks won the first two games, (game 2 by only one point), Celtics won game 3, but Knicks eliminated them with wins in games 5 and 6. Knicks went to the finals again but lost to the Lakers. In the 1972-73 season, Knicks picked up ""Earl the Pearl" Monroe who helped them go on another championship run. They beat Earl's old team, the Baltimore Bullets in round one, and then met the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. Celtics took game 1 at home, but Knicks won the next three (game 4 in 2OT). Celtics fought back to tie the series at 3-3, but their efforts were wasted as Knicks routed them in game 7 and won their second NBA title. The teams met in the Conference Finals for the 3rd season in a row in 1973-74. Celtics won the first two, Knicks won game 3, but lost the series 4-1 as the Celtics moved on and won their 12th NBA title. The Knicks era of greatness had come to an end with the retirement of Reed and Frazier, and they went back to their old, familiar struggles. Dave Cowens, Jo Jo White, and the Celtics won a Championship in 1975-76.


Knicks had minimal playoff success in the early to mid 80's, despite Bernard King's great seasons in that time, (especially 1985 when he led the league in scoring). In contrast, 3 time MVP Larry Bird led the Celtics to NBA Championships in the 1980-81, 1983-84, and 1985-86 seasons. The two teams met in the first round of the 1987-88 postseason. Boston took the first two games at home, Knicks prevailed in game 3, but Celtics ended it in game 4. They made it to the Conference Finals but got eliminated by the Detroit Pistons. Knicks Rookie of the Year (in 1986), Patrick Ewing, was developing into a dominant NBA Center.


The Boston Celtics and New York Knicks met again in the first round of the 1990 NBA Playoffs, which the Knicks won 3-2 in five games. The two teams would not meet in the playoffs again until 2011. The 1991-92 NBA season was the last season that the Celtics would reach the second round in the 90's, while the Knicks made it to the second round or farther every season from 1991 to 2000. Under the leadership of stars such as Patrick Ewing and Anthony Mason, the Knicks experienced plenty of success including two Eastern Conference Championships in 1994 and 1999. However, they failed to win an NBA Championship. During this time, the Knicks' rivals included the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls, as well as the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers, all of whom faced the Knicks in multiple memorable playoff series during this time. After the 1999-2000 NBA season, Patrick Ewing was traded to the Seattle Supersonics. The Knicks would descend into irrelevance in the 2000s and not win a playoff series again until 2012.


The Knicks had a major collapse after the end of the Ewing era as they did not win a single playoff game from 2001 to 2012. The Celtics went into a new era under the leadership of Paul Pierce, who became team captain in 2003 and brought them back to the playoffs. In 2006, they drafted Rajon Rondo and in 2007, they acquired Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, which formed their "big three." The trio helped the Celtics win their 17th NBA title in the 2007-08 season.


In the summer of 2010, the New York Knicks signed Amare Stoudamire, formerly of the Phoenix Suns, who subsequently began rebuilding the team. Stoudemire averaged over 27 PPG in the 2010-11 season to help the Knicks clinch their first winning season since 2001. On February 21, 2011, the Knicks engaged in a high-profile trade with the Denver Nuggets to acquire superstar Carmelo Anthony. These moves helped secure the Knicks' first playoff berth since 2004, where they were immediately swept by the Celtics. However, the Celtics would go on to lose to the Miami Heat, who had just acquired LeBron James and Chris Bosh via free agency. The Miami Heat would prove to be rivals of both teams, eliminating both from the playoffs in the 2011-12 season en route to the 2012 NBA Finals.

The 2012-13 season saw the Knicks flourish under the leadership of Anthony and offseason acquisition Tyson Chandler. Carmelo Anthony won the 2013 scoring title and helped them win the Atlantic Division for the first time since 1994. On January 7th, 2013, the two teams played in New York. With 9 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, a fight broke out between players on the court, triggered by animosity between Anthony and Boston's Kevin Garnett. After the fight was broken up, words continued to be exchanged, and after the game Carmelo attempted to go after Garnett in the locker rooms. This led to Carmelo being suspended for one game. Carmelo served his suspension on January 10 when the Knicks faced the Pacers. A rep for the league released a statement, saying, "There are no circumstances in which it is acceptable to confront an opponent after a game."[5][6] Both teams met again in the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs. The Celtics, who had lost Rajon Rondo to a mid-season injury, led the first two games going into halftime but were held to 25 and 23 points respectively in the second half to fall to 0-2. With the series shifting to Boston, the Knicks won Game 3, but Boston avoided elimination by winning Games 4 (in Boston) and 5 (in New York). The deciding Game 6, played in Boston, featured the Knicks leading by 26 points in the fourth quarter. The Celtics went onto a 20-0 run in less than five minutes to make it a close game, but the Knicks held on to win their first playoff series since 2000. In the next round, the Knicks were beaten by the Indiana Pacers in six games.


  1. ^ "2013-14 Boston Celtics Schedule | The Official Site of the BOSTON CELTICS". Nba.com. 2013-09-17. Retrieved 2014-03-12. 
  2. ^ a b Ryan, Bob (December 15, 2010). "Another link in the chain". Boston Globe. p. C1. "The Knicks...take on the Boston Celtics—a rival in one form or another for the entirety of the league's existence." 
  3. ^ Steinberg, Dan (February 2, 2008). "Baseball's Fault Lines Show Stress In Arizona". The Washington Post. p. E11. 
  4. ^ Walker, Ben (January 27, 2008). "Super Bowl highlights super rivalry: Beantown vs. Big Apple". NFL.com (National Football League). Associated Press. "With New York Yankees-Red Sox, that's just the way New York-Boston sports are...Be it on the field, court, diamond or ice, that's how it is between Beantown and the Big Apple." 
  5. ^ "Carmelo Anthony SUSPENDED for Post-Game Clash with Kevin Garnett". TMZ.com. 2013-01-09. Retrieved 2014-03-12. 
  6. ^ NBA Lead Writer (2013-05-02). "Postgame Fight Shows How Much Boston Celtics, NY Knicks Hate Each Other". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 2014-03-12.