The New York Knicks are playing great. They’ve won their last eight games and have scored more than 100 points in each one of them. They’re tied with the Atlanta Hawks for fifth in the Eastern Conference. Even though it’s super early, the Knicks appear poised to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004. It’s only been 25 games, but you can grab your giant flat-brimmed cap and tell the world that the Knicks are back.

OK, so the Knicks are good again — that don’t impress Paul Pierce much (big Shania Twain fan, that guy). His Celtics are heading to the Big Apple tomorrow night and Pierce is having some nice laughs about the idea of a rekindled rivalry. From ESPN:

“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.” [...]

“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,” Pierce said. “[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.”

Nice burn, Paul Pierce. Gentle but effective, with just enough seriousness to get Knicks fans fired up for the game. Well done on all counts.

Funnily enough, the Knicks actually are the most recent victors in this matchup, winning the last game between the two in April of this year. Maybe the Celtics don’t think that counts because Danilo Gallinari scored 31 points and that never happens, but it’s true. Boston hasn’t beaten the New York in New York in more than a year.

Just think about that — babies have been born that haven’t seen the Celtics beat the Knicks in Madison Square Garden. If that’s not the definition of a rivalry, I don’t know what is.