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Celtics Legends Series: Celtics-Knicks Rivalry

Posted by shawn cassidy on July 21, 2011 at 3:30 PM


These are two of the only remaining teams from the original 1946 NBA. The two teams locked up this season in the first round of the NBA playoffs. The series was supposed to be epic,but it fail to be so after the first two games in Boston. The Knicks had to deal with two major injury bugs. Chauncey never returned after the first game,and Amare was dealing with back problems,and he looked awful. Their was a few guys out there that like the Knicks over the Celtics. The series was over in four games,and of course the Celtics won all four games.

In 69 the Knicks and Celtics would meet up for the East crown. The Knicks became the team of the future as for the Celtics a team that was in transition. The Celtics took a 3-1 series lead,and the Celtics would win a close game 4 by one point. In the 6th game the Celtics would hold on,and win game 6 just by one point.

In the 1973 Conference Finals , the Knicks faced none other than the 68-14 Boston Celtics, who had the league's best record. The Celtics won Game 1 at the Boston Garden, but the Knicks stunned the Celtics in Game 2 with a big 129-96 victory. The Knicks eventually held a 3-1 series lead before Boston came back with two critical wins. However, that had to be done without their star John Havlicek, who was nursing an elbow injury. The loss would come back to haunt the Celtics as they lost again at home to the Knicks. Even rarer was the fact that this was a Game 7 lost on their home court.

The 73 Celtics series still haunts most of the Celtics fans that fell in love with the team in the 70's. That was the year that the Celtics would win banner 12. The Celtics would come back the following year after losing to the eventual champs the Knicks, The Celtics would learn from past mistakes,and they would beat the Knicks in the Eastern Conference finals in five games. Three of the Celtics wins were by double digits. The Celtics would go on,and win banner 12 in 1974.

The Celtics would beat the Bucks in seven games,and it was a classic series from start to finish. It was a favorite of mine growing up watching the old NBA films on TV.

The latest chapter in the Celtics-Knicks rilvary would take place ten years later when both teams faced off in the second round of the 1984 playoffs. A little drama in the year prior to the playoff series. Of course Red always had the upper hand,and this story in no exception.Rumors were swirling in 1984 that the Knicks were trying to lure Celtics star Kevin McHale with a free-agent contract. In retaliation, Celtics president Red Auerbach signed three Knicks stars to free agent contracts -- Marvin Webster, Rory Sparrow and Sly Williams.

Of course the Celtics would hang onto Mchale,and the Big three would move on to another quest. The Knicks would endure a tough series against the Pistons to move,and play the Celtics in the second round.

Both teams have had a long list of great players who have risen to challenge each other. In the 1984 playoffs, Cedric Maxwell of the Celtics bragged that he would cover Knicks star Bernard King, and that King would "not score 40." Technically, this ended up bring true: King tallied 43 and 44 points. But the Celtics won the series in seven games.Bernard King had a series for the ages, averaging 29.1 points a game.

The series gave us some great King,and Bird games. This Christmas day game should be a painful reminder of the Celtics carless play during a stretch in the 85-86 season.The Celtics' trio of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish were having their way with the Knicks, leading 58-33. The Knicks were depleted by injuries to stars Bill Cartwright and Bernard King. But then the momentum suddenly changed. The Knicks cut the Celtics lead to ten points heading into the fourth quarter, when rookie Patrick Ewing took over. The Knicks tied the game in the last-minute and went on to win, 113-104, in overtime.

The Celtics would meet the Knicks again in the 1988 playoffs. The Celtics would win the series in four games,and they would see young start Patrick Ewing for the first time in the playoffs. The faces changed for the Knicks,but the result was the same.

In 1990 the Knikcs and Celtics would play again in the first round,but the Celtics would be an injury riddled team by this point,and the Knicks had youth,and talent on their sides. The Celtics would take a  2-0 series lead,and in-game to they scored 157 points against the Knicks. The Knicks would win the next two games at home,but the Celtics still had the 5th game in Boston. The Celtics would go down 121-114.

In 1990 that would be the last time the two teams faced off in the playoffs until 2011. Here is a break down of the past playoff series.


• 1990 first round: Knicks defeat Celtics 3-2

• 1988 first round: Celtics defeat Knicks 3-1

• 1984 Eastern Conference semifinals: Celtics defeat Knicks 4-3

• 1974 Eastern Conference finals: Celtics defeat Knicks 4-1

• 1973 Eastern Conference finals: Knicks defeat Celtics 4-3

• 1972 Eastern Conference finals: Knicks cefeat Celtics 4-1

• 1969 Eastern Division finals: Celtics defeat Knicks 4-2

• 1967 Eastern Division semifinals: Celtics defeat Knicks 3-1

• 1955 Eastern Division semifinals: Celtics defeat Knicks 2-1

• 1953 Eastern Division finals: Knicks defeat Celtics 3-1

• 1952 Eastern Division semifinals: Knicks defeat Celtics 2-1

• 1951 Eastern Division semifinals: Knicks defeat Celtics 2-0

The two citites have a dislike for each other. Of course the biggest rivalry in sports belongs to the Sox and Yankees. The Celtics and Knicks look to renew this rivalry in the coming years. It should be  fun to watch with the Knicks back in action with two stars. Let's just hope we get another star to go along with Rondo after the Big 3 retire.

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