With the NBA Finals officially underway between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, it’s time for a few more weeks of Steph Curry and LeBron James coverage. To take away from all that, this week’s Pick-Six tackles the best NBA Finals of all-time.
6. 1962 NBA Finals: Boston Celtics, 4 vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 3
This series between two teams involved in basketball’s greatest rivalry was one that came down to the final seconds in both regulation and overtime. The Lakers’ Frank Selby missed a 12-foot jumper that given Los Angeles the lead and the title, which sent the game to overtime. The Celtics, led by Bill Russell’s 30 points and 44 rebounds, outscored the Lakers 10-7 in overtime, and took home the title.
5. 1988 NBA Finals: Los Angeles Lakers, 4 vs. Detroit Pistons, 3
Despite the Lakers’ Game 7 victory to take home the championship, this series is mostly known for the Detroit Pistons’ Isiah Thomas and his Game 6 performance. He sprained his ankle in the game, but still managed to set the NBA Finals single-quarter record for points with 25 in the third, and finished with 43 points, 8 assists, and 6 steals. Despite Thomas’ best efforts, the Pistons lost 103-102 in Game 6, and couldn’t make up for the point guard being injured in Game 7, as they lost 108-105.
4. 1969 NBA Finals: Boston Celtics, 4 vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 3
This series gave the Celtics the chance to win the 11th and final title of the Bill Russell era. The series came down to the final moments of Game 7, where Boston’s Don Nelson hit a foul-line jumper to give the Celtics a three-point lead and push the team past the Lakers. The Celtics had finished fourth in the conference that season, but managed to finish a Cinderella-like run to the Finals with a championship.
3. 1984 NBA Finals: Boston Celtics, 4 vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 3
Of course another Celtics-Lakers series made it onto this list. The Celtics were down two points with 18 seconds left in Game 2, and the Lakers had the ball with the chance to go up 2-0 in the series. However, Boston’s Gerald Henderson stole James Worthy’s pass and laid it in to tie the score, sending the game to overtime. Boston won 124-121 to even the series and gain back momentum needed to finish out their championship run in a 111-102 win in Game 7, led by Cedric Maxwell’s near triple-double performance.
2. 2013 NBA Finals: Miami Heat, 4 vs. San Antonio Spurs, 3
As much hate as LeBron James gets, especially the hate he received during his Miami run, you have to give him some props for what he and the Heat pulled off in this series. The Spurs led 94-89 with less than 30 seconds left in Game 6, and they appeared as if they had completed their fifth championship run. The series is known for Ray Allen’s clutch three pointer to tie the game with seconds left in regulation to force overtime. The Heat won the game 103-100, and then wrapped up the championship with a 95-88 win in Game 7 to complete the comeback.
1. 1998 NBA Finals: Chicago Bulls, 4 vs. Utah Jazz, 2
This series was perfect. Michael Jordan and the Bulls against John Stockton, Karl Malone and the Utah Jazz. The whole series is now known historically for Jordan’s final shot in Game 6, where he tallied his 45th point of the night, which gave the Bulls the lead and the title. All of the games, except one blowout in Game 3, was decided by five points or less, which any basketball fan would love to see in a modern-day world where NBA Finals games have consistently been decided by 20-30 points in some cases. The series had true drama, something most NBA series lack nowadays, and it should go down as the best NBA Finals of all-time.