5 Biggest Modern Boston Celtics Rivalries

Kelly Olynyk
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - DECEMBER 03: Kelly Olynyk of Boston Celtics dunks the ball during the NBA Regular Season basketball game between Sacramento Kings and Boston Celtics at the Mexico City Arena on December 03, 2015 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

After the battle royal called Game 3 of the Celtics v. Wizards series, as well as the general intensity in the series overall, it’s time to revisit the Boston Celtics most memorable rivals.

5 Biggest Modern Boston Celtics Rivalries

5. Washington Wizards (2017-)

After watching the current series between the Celtics and the Wizards, one thing is clear – a rivalry is in the making. In Game 3, Kelly Oubre Jr. was ejected after starting an altercation with Celtics Kelly Olynyk. This was in result of very physical game play. These two teams are on an upward slope, and will be butting heads for the next few years. John Wall and Isaiah Thomas are a great match for each other, and seem to play their best when against each other. (Game 2, IT4 went for 53 points, John Wall for 47.) Both teams play with a “prove everyone wrong” attitude, and refuse to lose. This will be a match-up to watch for in the future.

4. Toronto Raptors (2013-)

Let’s go back to 2013. Both teams finally start playing well again after a drought. They have both been on the rise since 2013, improving a small amount each year. The point margin between these two teams is 7.6. That means a lot of close games and overtimes. What ‘officially’ started this rivalry was quotes said earlier this year in January. Jae Crowder, Celtics forward, said, “Toronto is not a team we’re worried about. I think Cleveland is the top team. That’s what it comes down to.”

Toronto responded to that, with Jonas Valanciunas saying, “They [the Celtics] are racing for the second place, we are racing for first.”

3. Cleveland Cavaliers (2014-)

Does the year 2014 ring any bells? It’s the year LeBron James decided he wanted to go home. James joined the Cleveland Cavaliers, creating a stacked roster of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, and more. Undoubtedly the best roster in the league at the time. The past few years, the Celtics and Cavs have been butting heads for the higher seed in the Eastern Conference. It also doesn’t help that Boston just flat out does not like LeBron James. Most likely, it will be a battle in the Eastern Conference Finals between these two teams. Expect a physical series.

2. Miami Heat (2010-2013)

The battle of the Big Four’s. Miami and Boston were hard fought games every single time they played. With Boston’s core of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo, and Miami’s core of Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, LeBron James, and Mario Chalmers, a battle is expected. In 2011, Rondo and Wade got into an altercation, taking Rondo out of the Eastern Conference Finals. Miami went on to win the Eastern Conference that year. Miami won back to back NBA Championships in 2012 and 2013, which included the Heat eliminating the Celtics in 2012. As I mentioned earlier, Boston hates LeBron James. It was always physical between these two teams. This rivalry ends in 2013 because of James’ decision to go to Cleveland, Ray Allen went to the Heat, and other players aged.

1. Los Angeles Lakers (1959-2010)

As you all should have predicted, the Lakers come in as the number one rival on this list. The Celtics and Lakers were the biggest rivalry to ever be in the NBA. Nobody hated each other more than L.A. and Boston did. Starting in the early days of the Jerry West, Chuck Cooper (making the Celtics the first franchise to draft a black player), Bob Cousy, Red Auerbach, to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Dave Cowens, to Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, to more modern day Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, the teams have always had some form of talent.

The two teams were always butting heads to be the best. There is so much history within the two franchises. From 1959-2010, the Celtics and the Lakers have faced off in the NBA finals 12 times. The Celtics hold the advantage, winning nine of those series. This rivalry ended, for now, in 2010, because both franchises hit a rough patch. Watch out in the future for the rivalry to spark up again. With D’Angelo Russell tearing up the league, and Isaiah Thomas leading the way for Boston, the rivalry could re-ignite at any point in the future.

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