NBA Rivalries: Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks

NBA Rivalries: Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks

The rivalry between the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks is one of the longest-standing in the NBA. A lot of that goes down to prestige as the two franchises form two-thirds of the remaining charter franchises from 1946. There is a sense that the peak of this rivalry passed decades ago yet it does not take much to reignite it. While you can check the latest Boston Celtics odds, or those of the Knicks on FanDuel, there is more to come from this rivalry. 

The Titans Of The Seventies

Perhaps the golden time for the NBA was during the Seventies when both franchises were gunning for the title. Indeed, during the 1971-1972 season, the Boston Celtics met the New York Knicks in the Conference Finals. While the Knicks eventually triumphed 4-1, they would lose out to the Lakers. Again, the Celtics met the Knicks the following year with the Knicks winning a decisive game seven as they won their second NBA title. 

During the 1973-1974 season, the Boston Celtics gained some revenge with a 4–1 series win as they went on to claim the NBA title. You could argue that it was this series win that would spell the end for the Knicks’ great era, specifically after Walt Frazier and Willis Reed retired. By the climax of the 1975-1976 season, the Boston Celtics had won yet another NBA title. 

Celtics Dominance In The Eighties

With the New York Knicks’ fortunes diminishing into the Eighties, the Boston Celtics seized their opportunity. While Bernard King tried his best to reinvigorate the Knicks, Larry Bird was the focal point for the Celtics. They claimed three titles in the decade (1980-1981, 1983-1984, and 1985-1986) as few teams could cope with them. 

At the climax of the 1983-1984 season, the Celtics met the Knicks in the semifinals of the Eastern Conference.  The Knicks took the series to Game 7 as each team won their home games, yet form prevailed. The Boston Celtics did gain some revenge by the 1987-1988 season by triumphing in game 4 of the series. Even then, the Boston Celtics would be eliminated in the Conference Finals by the Detroit Pistons. 

Both Franchises Fading

Into the Nineties, there were signs that the rivalry was beginning to fade, as were the fortunes of both teams. While the Celtics met the Knicks in the 1990 NBA playoffs, it was only in the first round. The Knicks prevailed 3-2 yet that was the last time the two teams would meet in the postseason playoffs for another 21 years. Indeed, the following season was the final time that decade that the Celtics made the second round while the Knicks got through to that stage and beyond each year between 1992 and 2000.

The Knicks found some form, they won Eastern Conference titles yet failed to land the ultimate prize. While it was not the Celtics that proved to be the Knicks’ main rivals, rather the Indiana Pacers, the Miami Heat, and the dominant Chicago Bulls. This was the era of Michael Jordan at his peak and both the Celtics and the Knicks would largely go unnoticed, certainly into the postseason. 

The Second ‘Big Three’ Of The Boston Celtics

Once the Boston Celtics signed Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to form their ‘Big Three’ with Paul Pierce there was a sense of a dynasty making itself known. The Celtics could look to the past for inspiration with their first ‘Big Three’ of Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, and the great Larry Bird that dominated the Eighties. In the 2007-2008 season, the Celtics won another NBA title, their 17th in total. If you want to place a bet on this season’s games then check out the latest NBA odds

The 2013 Fight

It was high-time for the rivalry to find its feet again and that meant the Knicks rebuilding. Amar’e Stoudemire was signed from the Phoenix Suns and he would average above 27 PPG as the Knicks finally had a winning season again, their first since 2001. Carmelo Anthony was signed from the Denver Nuggets and the Knicks were ousted from the playoffs by the Celtics, who then went on to lose to the Miami Heat.

Suddenly, it seemed that both teams were competitive again and that would come to the fore on January 7th of 2013. The New York Knicks were hosting the Boston Celtics and with only nine minutes left on the clock, a fight broke out. This was largely down to bad blood between Celtics’ Kevin Garnett and Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony. Once the fight was over, there were still words between the two stars and there were reports that Anthony had gone for Garnett even after the game which led to a suspension for the Knicks’ star. 

Almost inevitably, the two teams faced each other in the opening round of the playoffs in 2013. Eventually, the Knicks prevailed in what was their first triumph in the playoffs since 2000 yet they were then beaten by the Indiana Pacers.


If there is a rivalry between the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks then it needs both teams to be playing well. There have only been a handful of playoff contests between the two teams yet if they make good signings then the rivalry can be reignited.