The Boston-New York rivalry continues to evolve as playing fields are leveled with the seemingly insurmountable upgrade of the Boston Red Sox and the historically streaking New York Knicks.
It’s easy to dismiss the Celtics right now as Boston continues to improve it’s standing as “Title Town” without the Green Team making any breaking news headlines. The Red Sox have loaded up for an extremely promising 2011 if the team remains minimally healthy and the Patriots are dismantling teams that had analysts drooling over the possibility of close, non-blowout games.
Tonight will be the first game since Miami came to The Garden that has significance not solely because the Celts will be playing to keep a streak alive. New York and Boston is a century-old rivalry that dies out whenever one team is dealing with a retooling year. We watched the Sox-Yankees competition simmer last year when the outfield consisted of Patterson, Kalish and Hall, but Theo & Co. (not to discount Mariano Rivera’s agents) have been putting together a team that should ignite the fire between the cities once again. It’s comparable to the past 16 years between the Celtics and the Knicks as 1994 was the last time New York had earned the Division title. There hasn’t been much competition within the Atlantic Division since.
With the acquisition of Amar’e Stoudemire, the surprise of Raymond Felton and the consistency of Danilo Gallinari along with Wilson Chandler, this game should be off the charts according to paper and statistics. We all know that numbers have not always given what they promised, however, the last time these teams met Rajon Rondo would have made $2.40 if they gave him a dime every time. The Celtics only won by four and the Knicks are taking it to their house, Madison Square Garden.
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW
Boston has been incredible on their own floor. A little premature to say it, but I would die happy to see 40-1 while I was actually alive. They are 9-3 on the road, which makes me a tiny bit nervous especially in a sport where playing at home is more important than baseball or football, in my opinion. Because basketball is played indoors it is much louder and if a team gets down by a large margin, getting back into is more mental than physical. If the C’s start this game like they have on most nights, it should allow them to operate on cruise control. If they start off shooting like they did against Charlotte, don’t expect one of the higher scoring offenses in the NBA to let them back in it without a fight.
With Garnett, Rondo, Pierce and Davis leading the Celtics on defense I believe the “bus stops here”. It has been proven time and time again in sports that there is only one team that can survive with offense alone. The New England Patriots. Considering that even the Pats have been playing with much more vigor on the defensive end, hence the whompings. In basketball defense wins, especially when the defense is one of the top in the league. I don’t think Semih will be taking on Stoudemire for the majority of the game but I believe he has been building up his confidence with Shaq on the bench and should do an above-the-league average job when he does end up guarding him. No doubt about it the Knicks will come out with tangible energy that will challenge the Celtics more than most of the teams they have played this year, but with a few early stops that make the Knickerbockers uncomfortable shooting in the beginning minutes and the Celtics should be on their way to win number 20. It will be the masterful defense of Boston that will win this one or the unstoppable offense of the Orange and Blue that hands them a loss.
“At the end of the day we’re playing for a championship not against certain opponents.” –Paul Pierce
Final Score: Celtics 110-Knicks 97