Let's be frank: This is a completely different game if the Truth, who has simply been a Knicks killer in recent seasons, steps on the court. It's also a different game if Baron Davis is manning the point, but nonetheless, the Celtics sorely missed his presence.
However, the emotion shown by both teams today means that Paul Pierce's December 2010 statement, where he claimed that Celtics-Knicks was not a rivalry, may prove to be false, mainly because the Knicks now have a large number of aggressive, hungry players.
Here's a comparison of last season's opening Celtics-Knicks game and this year's.
Knicks Rotation in 2010:
Starters: Amar'e Stoudemire, Timofey Mozgov, Danilo Gallinari, Landry Fields, Raymond Felton. Bench: Roger Mason, Ronny Turiaf, Toney Douglas, Bill Walker, Wilson Chandler.
Knicks Rotation in 2011:
Starters: Stoudemire, Fields, Carmelo Anthony, Douglas, Tyson Chandler. Bench: Iman Shumpert, Josh Harrellson, Bill Walker, Jared Jeffries, Renaldo Balkman.
What To Take Away
Note the infusion of energy and adherence to defense players like Tyson Chandler, Shumpert, Harrellson, Balkman and Jeffries bring to the table now.
As said before, Knicks-Celtics is going to be a fight to the finish, and that's the biggest takeaway from today's game.