"It’s a rivalry?" Celtics captain Paul Pierce asked with a big grin. "Man, y’all are letting me in on all the new stuff, all the talk. I didn’t know we had a rivalry going."
With the Knicks, winners of eight straight, playing inspired ball and sitting a mere four games back in the division — about as close as an opponent has managed to stay in the Big Three era — the "R" word is being tossed around freely after years of lying dormant.
"Hey, if that's what y'all want it to be, if it'll sell more tickets and get more viewers, then I guess so," said Pierce. "[The media makes] up the rivalries, we don't. To be honest, New York is playing well, they're in our division, and both teams are streaking, so it's going to be an exciting game."
There will always be a rivalry between anything associated with Boston and New York. It's nature.
But to insinuate the Knicks are a legitimate threat to the Celtics is absurd. Yes, they are no longer a horrible team. I will grant them mediocre status.
As for Shaq's injured calf:
Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal, who has missed the last two games with a sore right calf, said he's "getting better," but Rivers said the team would evaluate him during Tuesday's practice before determining if he can play Wednesday against the Knicks.
"We'll see what he can do in practice today and, if he’s good, he’ll pay," said Rivers. "If not, we’ll probably sit him again."
Shaq playfully noted that his "calf juices" are replenishing after six days of rest, adding, "I'll be alright."
I'm betting the big fella laces them up and plays Wednesday night.