A New Regime Brings A New Rivalry
The Celtics are the most successful franchise in the NBA, and it really isn't even close. The C's lead the NBA with 17 championships, and really have asserted themselves as the 'New York Yankees of basketball.' The Celts have won at least 1 championship in every decade since the 1950s, with the exception of the 1990s. They have had a multitude of dynasties, and a multitude of superstar hall of fame players.
Throughout the years the C's have had their share of rivalries, and their share of battles.
The Celtics have met up with the Lakers 12 times in the NBA finals. The C's have taken 9 of those matchups, but it was hardly easy for Boston. These 12 matchups have stretched to every decade since the 1950s, with the exception of the 1970s. Head-to-head matchups with Russell and Wilt, Bird and Magic, to Pierce and Kobe have been the highlights of this legendary rivalry. The C's lead the all-time regular season record 200-159, and they lead the postseason series 43-31. 5 of the 12 Finals matchups have been forced to a game 7. This storied rivalry will never be forgotten, but it may have to put on pause. The Lakers are in a rebuilding phase, and seem to be 2-3 years away from competing for a championship. The last time these 2 franchises met in the Finals was in 2010, when the Lakers beat the C's in 7 games.
Another rivalry the C's have been apart of is with the Detroit Pistons . The Pistons and the Celtics did NOT get along at all.. not even the slightest bit. Unlike the rivalry with the Lakers, the Pistons and C's are in the same conference. In the late 1980s the Pistons seemed to be a thorn in the Celtics back, when Bird, McHale, and Robert Parrish were ruling the NBA. The Celtics and Pistons met in the playoffs 6 straight times from 1985-1991. Detroit and Boston split those matchups, and blood was shed in every single one of those matchups. The 1987 Eastern Conference Finals was the most memorable matchup, due to the absurd amount of physical play. Larry Bird was thrown down numerous times, and the physical play took over the series. A series like that would never fly with this era of basketball. The Celtics and Pistons became a huge draw in the Eastern Conference, and it was always an entertaining matchup. Currently, Detroit is looking for a path to take, they really are not sure which direction their franchise is going. Expect the Pistons to be off the map for years to come, unless they find a superstar to pair with Andre Drummond.
After the Celtics had a 'down phase' in the 1990s and the early 2000s, they were able to land 2 superstars to pair with Paul Pierce in Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. However, they were met with a new 'rival' who was able to find a great amount of success against the C's.
The C's new rival was not a team, it was a player. LeBron James gave and still gives the Celtics his best effort every time he takes the floor. LeBron was able to give the big 3 his every effort, and eventually dethroned them once he took his talents to South Beach. Some would argue today that LeBron and the Celts are still rivals. But, that frankly is not the case anymore.
The C's and LeBron are at different points and in different stages. LeBron and the Cavs are more than likely going to their 3rd consecutive NBA Finals, since LeBron opted to head back to him home state of Ohio.
The C's are competing in the Eastern Conference but are nowhere near the Cavs. They seem to be at different levels, and will have different futures. Personally, I believe the Warriors are the Cavs 'rivals' due to the fact that they could be meeting for a third consecutive Finals matchup.
So, as the C's progress into possibly a new era and a new regime, who will take over as the new rivals?
I believe the Washington Wizards will take over as the C's new 'rivals.' The young back court of John Wall and Bradley Beal will be a force in the Eastern Conference for years to come. The C's and the Wizards already don't like each other, according to Isaiah Thomas.
8 technical fouls were called in game 3, and the scrum involving Kelly Olynyk and Kelly Oubre Jr. was just the one of long list of issues these 2 teams have with each other. The C's and Washington split their regular season series this season, and are in a compelling playoff series. The whole city of Boston already can not stand Oubre and this Washington squad. These teams are very close personnel wise, and both are close to competing for a championship. As LeBron James begins to decline in the upcoming years, the Wizards and the C's will be fighting for the Eastern Conference crown.
As these 2 teams get older and more experienced, the rivalry could take shape. Keep an eye on the Wizards moving forward, as they battle with the C's to dethrone the Cavs.