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Old Rivals to Meet Again

Kevin Garnett and Carmelo Anthony will get to go at it again as the Celtics and Knicks meet in the opening round.

Kevin Garnett and Carmelo Anthony will get to go at it again as the Celtics and Knicks meet in the opening round.

Boston and New York will add another chapter to a storied playoff history that dates back almost as far as the NBA itself.

The Knicks and Celtics respectively secured the No. 2 and No. 7 seeds in the Eastern Conference on Sunday, ensuring that the two sides will meet in the opening round of the playoffs starting this weekend. It will be the 14th time these two division rivals have met in the postseason.

In the wake of the tragic Boston Marathon bombings on Monday, the league canceled tonight’s game between the Celtics and Pacers, leaving both teams with just one game to play before showdown commences. The Knicks welcome Atlanta on Wednesday while the Celtics make the trip to Toronto.

Historically Speaking

While today’s younger fans may only remember Boston’s sweep of the Knicks in the 2011 playoffs, the two division rivals have a storied postseason history, and one that it can be argued is only surpassed by the Celtics-Lakers rivalry.

Boston and New York first met during the postseason in 1951. That year, the third-ranked Knicks defeated the second-ranked Celtics 2-0 – the opening series was much shorter back then – in the first round of the playoffs. The Knicks went on to lose to Rochester in the NBA Finals.

Three of the following four seasons saw the Knicks and Celtics hook-up in the postseason, with New York taking the series in 1952 and 1953 and Boston winning in 1955.

During the late 60s and early 70s, the sides would meet again five times, four of those times coming in the Eastern Conference Finals. Three of those series saw the winning team (Boston twice, New York once) go on to win the NBA title.

The Celtics and Knicks would meet twice in the 80s, with Boston defeating New York en route to the 1984 NBA title and New York emerging victorious in 1988. The Knicks would also score a first round victory in 1990, despite Boston’s side featuring the likes of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Dennis Johnson and Robert Parish.

All told, Boston narrowly leads New York 30-29 in head-to-head postseason games. However, New York has won seven series to Boston’s six.

Amazingly, of the 13 playoff series the two sides have played, eight have been won by the lower-seeded team. That’s something that deserves a little attention ahead of this year’s series.

It’s also worth pointing out that only two of the 13 previous series have ended in a sweep (1951, 2011). This one’s not likely to be over quickly.

Searching for an Edge

Finishing with the No. 2 seed will see the Knicks enter the series as the favorite, especially with news surfacing this week that both Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin will be available and Rasheed Wallace returning to the court on Monday night. The Knicks will essentially be at full strength.

Boston meanwhile will be without Rajon Rondo, as it has been for so much of this season. However, Kevin Garnett has played the last three games following an ankle injury, averaging 12.3 points along the way. That’s good news for a Celtics team that has sputtered into the postseason.

New York took three of the four meetings between the sides this season, beating the Celtics by an average of 7.8 points per game. A lot of the damage has come from a decisive rebounding advantage and the fact that the Knicks have hit twice as many three-point shots as the Celtics.

In terms of a betting edge, New York certainly looks a favorite.

The Knicks recorded a 45-35-1 ATS record this season, going 24-16-0 ATS at home and 21-19-1 ATS on the road. The Celtics meanwhile tallied a 37-40-3 ATS record overall, going 22-17-1 ATS at home and 15-23-2 ATS away from Bean Town.

New York was 3-1-0 ATS against Boston this season, including two wins against the spread as the favorite and one as the underdog.

Both Boston (41-38-1) and New York (40-39-2) have narrowly favored the total to go over this season, but in the last three meetings between the sides, the total has actually gone under. That’s food for thought for those planning on betting the over/under when this series gets underway this weekend.


Boston vs. New York (Playoff History)

1951: New York 2-0 Boston

1952: New York 2-1 Boston

1953: New York 3-1 Boston

1955: Boston 2-1 New York

1967: Boston 3-1 New York

1969: Boston 4-2 New York *

1972: New York 4-1 Boston

1973: New York 4-3 Boston *

1974: Boston 4-1 New York *

1984: Boston 4-3 New York *

1988: New York 3-1 Boston

1990: New York 3-2 Boston

2011: Boston 4-0 New York

* Denotes winning team went on to be crowned NBA champions

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