The Boston Celtics will not take the Knicks seriously. You can count on that. That's essential to Boston's entire attitude. "We're big, we're bad, and we're really good. We don't have to take you seriously." That's key to their success and New York, despite having pushed the Celtics a bit in the regular season, is not considered in their league.
But that doesn't mean the Celtics aren't looking forward to it.
The Celtics are used to big, flashy match-ups. And to Paul Pierce, that means big, flashy cities. Like New York. So instead of the usual "ho-hum" he would have given a series against Indiana or even Philadelphia, Pierce says he's looking forward to playing Stoudemire, Melo and the gang. From ESPN:
"It's going to be a very interesting series," said Pierce. "I know everybody's going to tune in to watch it. I know this is going to be as exciting as probably that series versus the Lakers last year, or even the series we had [two years ago] versus the Bulls. I think it's going to be very exciting for the fans to watch."via Pierce: A very interesting series vs. Knicks - Boston Celtics Blog - ESPN Boston .
Pierce hinted at the rivalry that's long existed between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, before suggesting a hard-fought playoff series between the Celtics and Knicks could cause some of that tension to spill over onto the basketball court.
"I think it's going to be fun," said Pierce. "You definitely have that rivalry in baseball. Maybe we can spark a rivalry there in basketball. You've got two cities who are close, next to each other, great sports towns. I think it's going to be great for the game."
Comparing the first round to the Finals, that's some big stuff. Hearing Pierce describe the playoffs as "fun" is disconcerting considering how serious the Celtics take everything. Which gives you a pretty good sense of either where the Celtics' heads are at, or how confident they are. The Knicks haven't proven anything and aren't a great defensive club. That means Boston is going to enjoy making a statement. This is going to be the most publicized of all the first-round series, even if it's not that great of a series. Pierce actually has the toughest cover, against Anthony, and that should be a huge matchup. There's so much star power here, it's of course going to draw eyeballs.
And really, it's not like Boston and New York sports rivalries get a lot of attention.
In unrelated news, networks are hoping that the Orlando-Atlanta series averages a higher rating than a rerun of "How I Met Your Mother."