The 10 All-Time Greatest Celtics and Lakers Playoff Series
In light of the upcoming Lakers and Celtics Finals series, here is a list of the 10 greatest playoff series between the team teams. Luckily, they have met 11 times in the playoffs, not including this year.
Hopefully, this year will be good enough to top the list next time. The rivalry was renewed for the first time in 21 years in 2008, and has come around again, just two years later. With that, let's get to the top 10.
10. 1965 NBA Finals
This classic matchup featured players like Bill Russell and Jerry West. The amount of talent on the two teams was incredible, though the series was not as impressive as either teams.
The Celtics won the series fairly convincingly 4-1, losing to the Lakers once in LA, but blowing out the Lakers three times, including Game Five.
9. 1985 NBA Finals
The 1985 series featured the Memorial Day Massacre in Game One, where the Celtics defeated the Lakers by a whopping 34 points.
The Lakers battled back and won the series 4-2, but most of the games of the series were fairly lopsided. The two highlights of the series were Dennis Johnson's game winning jumper in Game Four for the Celtics and the outright dominating performance by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
In Game Two, Abdul-Jabbar threw up 30 points, 17 rebounds, eight assists, and three blocks, and to close out the series, in Game Six, Abdul-Jabbar added 29 more points, and was subsequently named the MVP. The Lakers won the series 4-2, winning Game Six by 11 points.
8. 1987 NBA Finals
The 1987 Finals started with two fairly easy LA wins over the Celtics. However, Games Three and Four were some of the most memorable of the series.
Larry Bird and Dennis Johnson dominated Game Three to get a six-point win. However, the Lakers would get the last laugh when Magic Johnsn hit a game winning hook shot in Game Four, and then led the team to a 4-2 series win, with a 13-point victory in Game Six.
7. 1968 NBA Finals
The 1968 NBA Finals were extremely close, every game. No game was decided by a difference of more than 15 points, and three of the six games finished eight points or closer.
John Havlicek dominated the finals as well as the rest of the playoffs, leading all players in scoring, as the Celtics won the series 4-2, and Game Six with their biggest win in the whole series, defeating the Lakers 124-109.
Photo credit to Globe Photo.
6. 2008 NBA Finals
The Game Six blowout by the Celtics of the Lakers really dampened how great this series really was.
The Celtics won the first game by 10 points, and the next four games were all decided by six or less points, each highlighted by fantastic performances by Kobe Bryant or Paul Pierce.
However, the Celtics dominated Game Six, winning by 39 points, as Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett both had excellent games.
Paul Pierce was awarded the MVP award for the series, largely for his spectacular performance of 38 points and eight assists in a loss to Lakers.
5. 1963 NBA Finals
The 1963 NBA Finals was probably one of the closest six game series of all time. Five of the games were decided by seven points or fewer, and three by three points.
Elgin Baylor was amazing throughout the series, though the Celtics prevailed in the series winning Game Six by three points in Los Angeles, behind the great play of Bill Russell.
Photo credit to George Kalinsky of Getty Images.
4. 1966 NBA Finals
The 1966 Finals between the Lakers and Celtics was only the second at the time to go to seven games.
The series was highlighted by fantastic play by Jerry West, Sam Jones, John Havlicek, Elgin Baylor, and Bill Russell.
The Lakers won the first game in Boston by four points, and then were easily defeated in Game Two by 20. The next four games were all relatively close as the Lakers rallied to win two in a row to force a Game Seven.
However, the Celtics prevailed in an extremely close Game Seven, winning by just two points to give Red Auerbach a championship in his final season.
Photo Credit to Ken Regan of Getty Images.
3. 1969 NBA Finals
The 1969 Finals was a thrilling seven-game series between the Celtics and Lakers.
Wilt Chamberlain won the first game for the Lakers by two points, and both Jerry West and Elgin Baylor were ridiculous in a Game Two, six-point win for the Lakers.
The Celtics won the next two games, featuring an awesome buzzer beater by Sam Jones (pictured) to win the fourth game by just a single point.
Tied at two games, the Lakers won the fifth game, to take a 3-2 lead. However, the Celtics won the next two games, winning Game Seven by two points with Don Nelson's clinching shot in the final minute.
The Celtics had won their eight straight Championship over the Lakers with this victory, a streak that would be snapped the next season in 1985 (No. 9 on this list).
Photo Credit to Ken Regan of Getty Images.
2. 1984 NBA Finals
Perhaps one of the greatest finals series of all time, the 1984 Finals went to seven games, went back in forth in terms of victories, and featured two overtime games.
The Celtics tied the series in Game Two when Gerald Henderson tied the game to send it to overtime, and eventually won the game by three.
A blowout win by the Lakers in Game Three led to a four-point win in overtime by the Celtics in Game Four, tying the series at 2-2.
Game Five was won by the Celtics, and is famously known as the "Heat Game." Temperatures in the Boston Garden reached 97 degrees, as Larry Bird soared to score 34 points.
The Celtics eventually won the series in Game Seven, in 91 degree heat this time, as Dennis Johnson sealed the victory with two clutch free throws at the end of the game.
Photo Credit to Jerry Wachter of Getty Images.
1. 1962 NBA Finals
This was only the second meeting between the Lakers and Celtics in the finals, but perhaps one of the greatest series of NBA history. Four of the games were won by fewer than 10 points, and spectacular individual performances were seen in each game.
Sam Jones led the Celtics to victory in Game One, finishing with 24 points. The Celts won by 14, despite a 35-point performance by Elgin Baylor.
Jerry West and Elgin Baylor dominated Game Two of the series, combining for 76 points. Despite brilliant performances by Tommy Heinsohn, Bob Cousy, and Bill Russell, the Lakers pushed past the Celtics to win by seven, shooting an amazing 37-of-43 from the free throw line.
Despite a fantastic 26-point game by Bill Russell, the Lakers managed to defeat the Celtics by two points to take a one-game lead. Down by two, Jerry West scored the game tying basket, and stole the subsequent inbound pass, scoring again as time expired to give the Lakers the win. It was perhaps one of the greatest finishes of any NBA game, and outdid Baylor's 39 point performance (though West put up 36 himself).
Boston came out with an even attack in Game Four, as Bill Russell finished with 21 points and 22 rebounds, and five other Celtics finished with double figures. Despite 64 combined points by West and Baylor, the Lakers lost Game Four by 12, and returned to Boston tied at two.
Game Five was highlighted by the absolutely spectacular performance of Elgin Baylor. Baylor put up 61 points, a playoff number that would not be outdone for 24 years until Michael Jordan scored 63. Heinsohn and Russell were again amazing, though the Celtics fell short, as the Lakers took a five-point victory.
Sam Jones again led the Celtics to victory, scoring 35 points, and more than Jerry West or Elgin Baylor. The Celts won the game by 14 points, even though West and Baylor again combined for a ridiculous 68 points.
Game Seven of the 1962 Finals is one of the greatest NBA games ever. Baylor and West combined for 76 points, Bill Russell had 44 rebounds and "only" 30 points, but the game is highlighted by the infamous "miss" by Frank Selvy of the Lakers. With the game tied, Selvy missed a wide open short jump shot, that would have won the game for the Lakers, but instead went to overtime. The Celtics took advantage to win the final game by three points, capping an outstanding series with a magnificent game.
Photo credit to Wen Roberts of Getty Images.