L.A. Lakers vs. Boston Celtics and the Top 10 Rivalries in the NBA

Pat MixonSenior Analyst INovember 10, 2010

L.A. Lakers Vs. Boston Celtics and the Top 10 Rivalries in the NBA

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    Rivalries will be renewed this 2010-2011 NBA season. And, as always, the measuring stick to all NBA rivalries will be the Los Angeles Lakers vs. the Boston Celtics. Not only does this rivalry have tradition, but it has also been re-ignited these past few seasons.

    This is the standard bearer for rivalries. But, there are others. So, while you probably can guess the No. 1 rivalry on this list, what about all of the other match-ups we expect to be heated this season?

    The answers begin with this slideshow. Here are the Top 10 Rivalries, either by tradition, renewed, or just getting started.

10. Phoenix Suns Vs. San Antonio Spurs

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    Over the last 10 years, these two teams have stood at the top of the Western Conference. They have met five times in the playoffs since 2000 but each time, the Spurs somehow slipped by Steve Nash and his running, gunning crew of Suns.

    Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili always seemed to get the best of the Suns. But the battles were fierce, bloody and controversial.

    Again, this year, both teams look to renew their rivalry. Can the Spurs dig deep for one last run with their aging core while the Suns strike out on a new path without Amar’e Stoudamire?

    If the Suns gel over the regular season, they might give the Spurs once last battle to remember.

9. Miami Heat Vs. Los Angeles Lakers

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    This one will be the start of a new rivalry, possibly on a level the league has never seen or hasn’t seen in many years. This matchup would be higher on the list except for the simple fact: it begins this year.

    While these two franchises only play each other twice during the regular season, this matchup has “must see” written all over it.

    And, don’t kid yourself, Kobe Bryant wants to show what he really thinks about all the attention going on in South Florida. He’ll remind everyone that the Lakers are reigning champs.

    With LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh coming to LA on Christmas Day, this matchup evokes the old Laker and Celtic rivalry from the 1980’s.

    Sure, the teams can only really battle in the NBA Finals. That's what makes the regular season games even more meaningful.

    This new rivalry will be fierce and so exciting. 

8. Miami Heat Vs. Boston Celtics

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    This is the new rivalry in the East. It may also be the only one that matters if Orlando doesn’t come to play. That's because Boston and Miami are the elite teams in this conference. Both teams know it.

    And, don’t think twice that the LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh trio weren’t irked to lose their Opening Night game in Boston.

    As the Heat continue to gel, it raises the temperature and the stakes when these two teams meet again.

    Expect the regular season games to have the same feel as opening night. And, know for sure these two franchises will meet in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

    Boston has been the marquee East team these past few years and all roads, even for Miami, go through Beantown. This one will be bloody, knock-down and exciting.

7. San Antonio Spurs Vs. Los Angeles Lakers

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    While the rivalry has been going on over the last decade-plus, the Spurs have faded these past few years.

    But, look for this rivalry, and the Spurs, to be renewed for one last run by Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.

    Even the coaches don’t seem to like each other. Phil Jackson and Greg Popovich represent the best of their profession but like the players, have respect, but not much else, for each other.

    This might be one of the best rivalries this year in the West. And, the Spurs might surprise some people and even give the Lakers a scare.

6. Denver Nuggets V. Los Angeles Lakers

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    For the past few seasons, this has really been the top matchup in the West. And, for a while there, it really was a rivalry. That’s because Denver kept its Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde problems in check and gave the Lakers literally all they could handle.

    The reason is that the Nuggets are one of the few teams that could matchup with the Lakers in both height and skills.

    Carmelo Anthony is the difference maker in this one. If he ends up staying in Denver for the entire season and continues to play at his high level, the Nuggets still have the weapons to give the Lakers a run for the money.

    These two teams don’t really like each other and when they play, especially in the playoffs, it shows.

    This rivalry could be renewed or dead on arrival if Melo is traded or becomes disillusioned. 

5. Utah Jazz V. Denver Nuggets

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    This has been a rivalry of the West for a number of years. In fact, it dates back to the 1980’s. And, yes, Utah coach Jerry Sloan was the coach back then, too. He’s like Moses, something like 500 years old.

    But, Sloan always has his team in the playoffs and makes Utah always a tough matchup and difficult out. Nothing will change this year, especially with the addition/steal of Al Jefferson.

    How Sloan got him is still mind-boggling, after losing Carlos Boozer and thinking the Jazz would miss the playoffs. Instead, they look primed to be at or near the top of the West this year.

    And, if Carmelo Anthony stays in Denver and comes to play this year, the Nuggets still have all the weapons to contend for the West’s top spot.

    These two franchises have always had great battles and nothing will change this season as they fight for top spot in their Division. 

4. Dallas Mavericks Vs. San Antonio Spurs

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    The bragging rights for Texas remain being fought between these two power teams. While the Spurs have dominated the playoff side of this rivalry, winning three NBA titles in the last decade plus, the Mavericks played for the NBA title in 2005.

    This year, as usual, the regular season games will be Old West shootouts. The Mavs are super deep and primed for a shot at the NBA Finals while the Spurs look for one last run of their aging core.

    Everything is bigger in Texas, including this NBA rivalry.

3. Miami Heat Vs. Orlando Magic

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    The two Florida teams actually have traded back and forth being one of the top teams in the East for the seven-plus years.

    Dwyane Wade teamed with Shaquille O’Neal to win the NBA title in 2005. Dwight Howard and his three-point shooting Magic played against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in 2009, falling short.

    Both Florida teams sit at the top of the best of the East list this year. Wade now has superstar running partners in LeBron James and Chris Bosh, while Howard has unveiled an offensive repertoire that hasn’t been seen in past years.

    This interstate rivalry looks to break out nationally as these two teams will battle all year for the top spot in the East.

    Florida will remain hot, as always.

No. 2- Boston Celtics V. Chicago Bulls

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    These two teams have had legendary battles in the Eastern Conference playoffs on and off the past three plus years. How can anyone forget 2009 when the two teams played overtime game after overtime game, the Bulls pushing Boston to the brink for a Game 7?

    And, their regular season games feel like playoff games with everything on the line. The two teams don’t like each other, especially Joakim Noah and Kevin Garnett.

    Nothing will change this year. And, when the Bulls get back newly acquired power forward Carlos Boozer to go with Derrick Rose and crew, the Bulls will be primed to battle the Celtics head to head. This is old-school, smash-mouth basketball.

    And, it won’t surprise anyone if these two franchises meet again in next Spring’s playoffs.

1. Los Angeles Lakers Vs. Boston Celtics

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    The definition of a rivalry. The grand-daddy of them all in the NBA. And, even if you took away all the tradition, this would still be a great NBA rivalry based on the last three years.

    The two franchises have battled for the NBA title in two of the last three season, with each team notching one victory. The Celtics dismantled the Lakers in 2008, winning in six games.

    Kobe and Co. returned the favor, squeaking out a game seven stunner at home after trailing by 13 in the second half.

    Could these two storied teams meet for a final rubber match next June?

    All indications make this a high possibility (LA vs. Boston is my prediction for this year’s Finals.)

    Sound the bell and let one of the greatest rivalries in all of sport continue.

The Runner-Ups

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    Runner-Ups

     

    Oklahoma Thunder v. New Orleans Hornets.

    These two younger teams look to battle all season for playoff positioning. The Hornets have gotten off to a surprising start of the 2010-2011 season. And, everyone is picking the Thunder to move up in the West this year.

    So, I expect both these two teams to battle each other fiercely. Since the Hornets went up to Oklahoma for a season after Hurricane Katrina (see picture of CP3 above), we can call this one the beginning of a rivalry.

     

    New York Knicks v. New Jersey Nets.

    While one or both of these teams might not even make the playoffs, this matchup looks to be exciting either way. That's because both teams have improved from last year.

    It will be fun to watch if Manhattan or its step-sister in Jersey take top honors this year for bragging rights to the greater New York/New Jersey area. We’ll call this one the start of a rivalry, with a question mark.

     

    Dallas Mavericks v. Houston Rockets.

    This rivalry, another battle for Texas bragging rights, doesn’t make the Top 10 because we’re not sure how good Houston will be this year with returning center Yao Ming limited to only 24 minutes a game.

    We know Dallas will be up there this year and, in the past, this is always a Texas-style shootout when these two teams play. We’ll see what happens this year with this Texas tradition.