Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks

Daniel Collins

Written by: Daniel Collins

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Read Time: 5 minutes

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The Boston Celtics and New York Knicks have been playing each other since the 1946 season, and the Eastern Conference teams have been bitter rivals since day one. New York City and Boston are less than 200 miles apart, but there is a world of difference between how these fans view their opponents. There is no doubt a little bit of jealousy on the part of Knicks fans as the Boston Celtics are the most storied franchise in the NBA. New Yorkers will tell you that they rule the baseball world, but Boston is starting to make a dent in that claim as well. These are two iconic basketball teams that play their home games in iconic venues that have hosted their fair share of legendary basketball games throughout the years. The competition on the court hasn’t been as fierce of late, but that hasn’t stopped the fans from keeping this rivalry alive.

History of Celtics vs. Knicks Rivalry

The Boston Celtics and New York Knicks met for the first time on December 7, 1946, and the Knicks came away with a 90-65 victory. Both the Celtics and Knicks were charter members of the Basketball Association of America, and they are the two oldest teams that are still playing in their original city today. The Celtics and Knicks have met a whopping 539 times since 1946, and the Celtics hold a 327-212 series lead over their rival. Surprisingly, the New York Knicks have actually fared pretty well against the Celtics in the postseason, with Boston having a slim 36-31 lead in those meetings. Boston was the correct pick in this rivalry for much of the first three decades, but things started to make a turn in the 1990’s. If you were a betting man, the Knicks were an easy prediction to advance farther than the Celtics during Patrick Ewing’s tenure with the team. New York defeated Boston 3-2 in the first round of the 1990 NBA Playoffs and were a perennial contender in the Eastern Conference through the 1999-2000 season. The Knicks have been a mess for most of this century, while the Celtics have seen a resurgence in their franchise. Boston is a popular pick to reach the NBA Finals this season, while the Knicks are stockpiling picks for the upcoming draft in hopes of turning their franchise back around.

The Boston Celtics haven’t always been the most dominant team in the NBA, and their championships seem to come in spurts. Legendary coach Red Auerbach led the Celtics to eight straight NBA Championships from 1959-1966, but then the team went on a long dry spell. Larry Bird’s arrival in Boston helped to turn the franchise back around, and the Celtics won three NBA titles in the 1980’s. The Celtics didn’t win another championship until the 2008 season when the “Big Three” of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen teamed up to create a dominant team that beat the odds to win it all. Boston has another terrific core of young talent in the 2019 season and should have some chances to add to their record championship total in the near future.

The New York Knicks are largely famous for their work done in the late 60’s and early 70’s, but they were also one of the best teams in the league during the 1990’s. New York won three out of four Eastern Conference titles from 1970-73, and both of their NBA Championships came during this time. The Knicks would likely have a few more titles, but they could never get past Michael Jordan and those legendary Bulls teams in the 1990’s. Odds are that even the casual sports fan could name some legendary Knicks’ players, most notably Walt Frazier and Patrick Ewing. Madison Square Garden is still considered the mecca of basketball, but the Knicks have not had enough talent in recent years to have a successful team.

Head to Head Comparison of Celtics and Knicks

In terms of NBA Championships and postseason success, this rivalry is completely one-sided. The Boston Celtics have won an NBA-record 17 championships, while the Knicks have just two to their credit. New York has won eight conference titles, but they have gone just 2-6 on the game’s biggest stage. Boston has won 21 conference titles and has lost just four times when reaching the NBA Finals. The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame is littered with former Celtics and Knicks stars, but Boston holds a huge edge in that as well. Boston has had 40 former players enshrined in the Hall of Fame, while the Knicks have had just 21. The Celtics have retired a whopping 22 jersey numbers, which is the most of any franchise in professional sports history.

Look At the Last 20 Games Between Celtics and Knicks

If we look back at the last 20 games between the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks, we will go all the way back to December 12, 2014. It should be no surprise to see that the Celtics have been dominant against their rivals in that span. Boston posted a 15-5 record against New York in the last 20 games, and they seem to be the correct pick in the near future as well. The Celtics have gone 7-3 while playing at home in Boston and have also gone 8-2 while playing at the world-famous Madison Square Garden in New York City. Odds are that this trend will see a slight change in future seasons, but the Celtics are clearly the better team, and have been for quite some time.

Detailed Splits For This Eastern Conference Rivalry

Just looking at the head-to-head results doesn’t tell the whole story in this rivalry, especially in terms of making betting predictions. Looking at the favorite and over/under results from the last 20 games should give a better idea of who the right pick is when these two teams take the floor. Boston has been the betting favorite in each of the last 20 games, but they haven’t always been able to cover the spread. The Celtics are just 11-9 against the spread in these games since 2014, so the Knicks have been the correct pick in almost half of these games. Boston and New York have gone “under” the total points 12 of the 20 games in this span, which means they have gone “over” just eight times. If you are making betting predictions going forward, the Celtics are the moneyline pick, but there are reasons to bet on the Knicks as well.