3) Boston Celtics
Most NBA rivalries entail a long line of brutal battles between two teams under varying circumstances. On top of that, there has to be those other egregious outlying factors, like a championship arms race or the portable property that are star players.
Do the Nets and Celtics have that? Yes… sort of.
Both teams play in the Atlantic Division and have faced off on every level, including a 4-2 Eastern Conference Finals win for the Nets back in 2002, which prevented an NBA Finals between the Celtics & Lakers — two much bigger rivals.
Besides that only postseason meeting, the two have had some recent altercations that may fit the above description. The Celtics traded Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry to Brooklyn for overpaid rental players and three first-round draft picks, the year after some of the players eventually traded got into a minor brawl on Christmas. This came after a fight one month earlier that resulted in three players ejected, two of whom were, again, part of the Celtics-Nets deal.
As far as the season series goes, the Celtics have taken it since 2000 by a dominant 36-23 margin, but they’ve come in spurts. From 2000 to 2002, Boston won 10 of 12 matchups. The Nets took 2003-2006, winning 11 of 16. Fast forward a year and the Celtics took the crown, going 18-2 against the Nets from 2008-2012. But since the move to Brooklyn, the tables have turned, as the Nets have won six of eight matchups.
Until KG throws in the towel on his legendary career, every Nets-Celtics game will be emotional, but there’s only so much Rajon Rondo and his exhibition squad can do to make the games competitive.