The 2010 NBA Finals once again brings together the greatest rivalry in NBA history. For the 12th time, the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics will square off for the right to be crowned NBA champions.
It's the second time in three years these cross-country rivals will tangle. A matchup between the two most storied franchises in league history is great for the league. So far, the Celtics hold a lopsided all-time edge, winning nine of 11 Finals showdowns.
The renewed rivalry got us thinking about the 11 occurrences and how they rank all time. Here's a look at the best of the NBA's best rivalry.
The '59 Finals was the original matchup between the Lakers (then Minneapolis) and the Celtics, the first of seven over the next decade.
Bill Russell was in his fourth season and Bob Cousy his ninth as the Celtics swept the Lakers 4-0. This series falls to the bottom of the list because it's the only sweep in their storied history.
The Celtics took down the Lakers in five games in the 1965 finals, one of the highest-scoring NBA Finals in history. The Lakers earned a 126-105 victory in Game Three, but the Celtics scoring was relentless in their four victories.
Boston averaged 128 points in their four victories, giving the Celtics the seventh of their eight consecutive championships.
John Havlicek (pictured) and player-coach Bill Russell earned their ninth NBA title in a six-game victory for the Celtics.
The two sides went back and forth in Game Five with the series tied 2-2. The Celtics eventually pulled out a narrow 120-117 victory before heading back to Los Angeles, where they beat the Lakers 124-109 and claimed the championship.
The Celtics' fifth consecutive title ended with Bob Cousy's final game in Boston. The Celtics took a 2-0 series lead by a combined 10 points.
The Lakers scored a 20-point win in Game Three, but the Celtics responded by taking Game Four in Los Angeles with a three point win. The Lakers came back with a seven point win in Boston in Game Five, but the Celtics grabbed the title with a 112-109 victory in Game Six.
Game Two saw Bill Russell grab the most rebounds in a playoff loss in NBA history when he snatched 38.
The first Lakers-Celtics Finals matchup in 21 years was an opportunity for the Lakers to knock off the Celtics for the third time in history. However, the Celtics took a 2-0 series lead before the Lakers took two of the next three, all decided by six points or less.
The teams returned to Boston for Game Six, but the Lakers folded in a demoralizing 39-point loss that was sheer Celtic domination. Ray Allen hit seven three-pointers, and Rajon Rondo had 21 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, and six steals. It was the 17th title in Boston history, snapping the two straight wins by the Lakers.
The 1987 NBA Finals was the last matchup before 2008. The Lakers won in six games for their second straight Finals win over the Celtics.
The Lakers grabbed a 2-0 lead before the Celtics won one. Game Four proved to be one of the best games in the history of the rivalry.
The Lakers battled back from a 103-95 deficit, punctuated by Magic Johnson's sky hook that gave the Lakers a 107-106 victory.
The Celtics won Game Five 123-108, but the Lakers ended the series in Game Six with a 106-93 win.
The 1966 NBA Finals was the second Celtics-Lakers rivalry to go seven games. The Lakers, however, remained shutout against the Celtics despite coming back from a 3-1 series deficit.
Not only did the Lakers equal the series after falling behind 3-1, but they rallied from a 19-point deficit in Game Seven. Nevertheless, the Lakers couldn't overcome Bill Russell's 32 rebounds. The Celtics captured the final of their eight straight titles.
The 1969 NBA Finals featured the grizzled Bill Russell and Jerry West, who were in the twilight of their careers. However, Wilt Chamberlain was introduced to the rivalry after coming to the Lakers from the 76ers during the offseason.
Every game of the series was decided by single digits. The Lakers grabbed a 2-0 series lead on their home court before the Celtics responded with two straight wins in the Garden.
The teams again traded wins on their home courts to even the series 3-3.
However, Boston came through with the lone road win of the series and took the title with a 108-106 victory.
The Lakers finally broke the curse of the Celtics when they captured a six-game series victory. Los Angeles got off on the wrong foot to the series, losing Game One 148-114.
The Lakers took four of the next five games with their only loss a two-point defeat in Game Four. After 25 years, the Lakers finally vanquished the Celtics and rewrote the rivalry.
The Celtics and Lakers played one of the best seven-game series' in NBA history in 1962 and arguably the best Game Seven in the history of the sport.
The Lakers grabbed a 3-2 series lead in Boston, but the Celtics responded with a Game Six win in Los Angeles.
That set the stage for an epic Game Seven. That night, Bill Russell scored 30 points with an unbelievable 44 rebounds. Elgin Baylor and Jerry West combined for 79 points. To top it off, Game Seven went to overtime where the Celtics finally emerged with a 110-107 victory.
There's no debate that the 1984 Finals ranks No. 1. Not only is it the best series in the history of the rivalry, but it's one of the best series in NBA Finals history.
It's arguably the most physical finals in NBA history (highlighted by the Kurt Rambis tackle) and featured two epic overtime games in Games Two and Four that could have swung the series to the Lakers had the Celtics not gutted out two wins.
Each team held their home court in the final three games (two in Boston) to give the Celtics a perfect 9-0 record over the Lakers in the Finals.