BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics led by 15 points. The New York Knicks were up by 12. Yet it came as no surprise that Sundays game between the Atlantic Division foes was decided in overtime.
The Celtics and Knicks have met three times this season with the games being decided by a total of eight points. The Knicks took the season opener, 106-104, and the Celtics evened up the series with a 91-89 win in February.
On Sunday, it took an extra five minutes before the Celtics edged out the Knicks, 115-111.
You know what it is, said Paul Pierce. Youve got an Atlantic rivalry. Its not only been this season. Its been since they traded for Amare (Stoudemire) and Carmelo (Anthony) and they became relevant again. Its just something about that New York - Boston rivalry. The games, you see the energy watching the crowd, the energy in the stands. When you go to Madison (Square Garden), when you come here, thats just the way it is. Those games seem to always come down to the last second.
Games between the Celtics and Knicks became more emphasized after the Knicks acquired Anthony last season. The Celtics swept them in the first round of the playoffs last year, only enhancing the significance of their regular season match ups.
Both teams were ready to fight it out until the end on Sunday afternoon. Pierce tied a season high with 34 points, Anthony led the Knicks with 25, and Rondo posted an incredible stat line with 18 points, 17 rebounds, and 20 assists.
The great players, they really like to play in these types of games, said Pierce. They like to step up, as you saw tonight. Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, (Rajon) Rondo, myself, Melo (Carmelo Anthony) hit some big shots. Thats what makes the game of basketball and these types of games versus New York so fun because you always see the great players rise to the finish.
The Celtics (19-17) and Knicks (18-19) are battling for position in the Eastern Conference standings. They will play the final game of their regular season series on April 17 in New York. At that point, the postseason will be right around the corner and both teams will be vying for playoff seedings.
With winning a title on their minds, expect that game to be just as intense as the previous three this season.
The Knicks were a great team back then and they have a good team now, a playoff team now, said Mickael Pietrus. The Celtics have always been a winning team, a franchise with so many banners. I think in the East, they want to compete against each other and they want to prove who has the best team, so thats why I think the games have been so close. At the end of the day, every player is trying to win for their franchise.