New York Knicks fans, the media, pretty much everyone with an interest in the NBA has been wondering what would happen when the 16-9 Knicks face the elite teams in the league. Well, tonight, everyone gets a chance to find out as New York hosts the best team in the Eastern Conference, the 19-4 Boston Celtics, at Madison Square Garden. Game time is 7 p.m. ET.
The Knicks have won eight straight and 13 of 14, though some question the validity of the hot streak as 11 of those victories are against teams with sub-.500 records this season. The Celtics have now won 10 straight games.
"I don’t understand why there’s questions about, "Are we there yet?’" point guard Raymond Felton said Tuesday. "We’re doing better than any other team in the league."
Maybe because the Knicks have been laughingstocks in recent years and have not made the playoffs since the 2003-2004 season. Maybe because LeBron James rejected them and some people still don't trust the talent on the roster. Maybe because they have not yet had a "signature" win over a big-time team this season. Something they could, of course, rectify tonight.
"I think any game with meaning, and obviously, for them, it’s going to have a lot more meaning. They’re probably going to be extremely fired up for this game and I’m hoping our guys can match that intensity," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said.
No matter what happens tonight, there is still a difference between the Knicks and Celtics. The Celtics have been and still are, where the Knicks are trying to go. Boston star Paul Pierce put that into perspective when asked about a supposed "rivalry" with the Knicks.
"We have bigger goals than winning streaks," Pierce said. "I didn’t know we had a rivalry going. If that’s what you all want, if it’s going sell more tickets, get more viewers, I guess so. You (media) all make up the rivalry, we don’t, to be honest. At the end of the day, we’re playing for championships, not certain opponents."