The Boston Celtics are in the midst of a 10-game win streak and it's presented a challenge when trying to come up with fresh content for the team. So, I decided to look at things from a bigger picture, assume they are playoff-bound and figure out who their biggest rivals currently are.
Now, 30 years ago the Philadelphia 76ers or possibly the Houston Rockets would be on the list, but I will be focusing on the current day rivalries. Of course, history does play a role in what keeps a rivalry relevant, so I won’t be overlooking the obvious battles of the past between the Celtics and their respective opponents.
The Pistons will forever be ingrained in the heads of Boston Celtic’s fans as one of their top rivals for as long as they are in Detroit. Long gone are the days of a down and dirty, gritty style of play, leavings us with a newer, softer version of a few years ago, but still there are a few factors keeping the Pistons relevant to Celtics fans.
Earlier in the season, there was the whole alleged Charlie Villanueva “cancer” comment, coming from Kevin Garnett, which lasted for a few days and grabbed some national headlines. The matter appears to be a closed case, but that remains to be seen the next time the two step onto the court.
The other reason the Pistons remain relevant is because of Rip Hamilton. Love him or hate him, Rip is still one of the best in the league away from the ball and you always need to keep an eye on him. “Pesky” would be the ultimate word to describe his play. The whole face mask thing doesn’t endear him to most, which adds to rooting against him. Luckily, Rip is just a good competitor, with no extraneous factors for rooting against him.
Don’t look now, but the Knicks are one of the better teams in the East, four games behind the hub’s team. While they haven’t been relevant since the days of Charlie Ward, Larry Johnson, and…Mirsad Turkcan, New York is pressing to get back into the fold.
Coach Mike D’Antoni is great for the NBA because he is a throwback to the sexy 80’s style of play that made the NBA so memorable 20-plus years ago.
Amare Stoudemire is a legit MVP candidate and Raymond Felton has really stepped up his game since coming over from the Charlotte Bobcats. Everything is clicking in New York, but the jury is still out on whether this territorial rivalry is truly for real.
The Celtics and Orlando Magic’s rivalry is built around both squads having been decent teams over the past few seasons. It doesn’t really go much further than that. I mean, they both have centers who complain a lot and deep benches, but this rivalry lacks any added “wow” factors, due to no real history.
Still, it’s always going to be heated when Dwight Howard and Vince Carter are in town, around. It’s one Big Three versus another.
I absolutely adore this rivalry. While the Celtics and Bull may not have the most historic of memorable moments amongst one another, they do have a wonderfully manufactured, good old-fashioned modern day rivalry. It centers around two things: trash talking and coaching.
Joakim Noah has a recurring role in the sitcom “Everybody Hates Kevin,” getting tangled up with Garnett on and off the court. Sandwiched around Noah’s “be sweet” comments to KG, are their battles on the floor, which always seem to get a little chippy at times.
I’m all for some gritty play, but a matchup of good coaches is a much better treat to watch. Tom Thibodeau spent three years as Doc Rivers right hand man for the Celtics. There certainly isn’t any bad blood here, but I’m willing to bet Thidodeau would eagerly welcome a victory over his former superior.
There’s no need to spend a whole lot of time on this one. It’s been beaten to death and we’re only 20-plus games into the season.
The shelf life of the Celtics may prevent this from becoming the next historic rivalry, but there will be another couple years of potential Eastern Conference Championship matchups.
Ah yes. The rivalry that I grew up on, which has been reignited in recent years is still something to behold. The teams may only play twice a year in the regular season, but that only adds to the mystique, should they reach the NBA finals together.
It’s pretty amazing to think that the Lakers have been able to be some productive over the past 30 seasons. Most teams have their highs and lows during stretches that long, but the Lakers have made the playoffs every year since 1976-77 except for two seasons. Great teams make great rivalries.