- 1986 NBA Finals
NBA Finals summary
year = 1986
runnerup_games = 2
champion_games = 4
May 26- June 8
television = CBS (U.S.)
Dick Stocktonand Tom Heinsohn
Larry Bird(1998) Kevin McHale(1999) Hakeem Olajuwon(2008) Robert Parish(2003) Bill Walton(1993)
K.C. Jones (1989, player)
referees_1 = Jack Madden and
Ed T. Rush
Joe Crawfordand Jake O'Donnell
Darell Garretsonand Earl Strom
referees_5 = Game 5:
Jake O'Donnelland Darell Garretson
ECF result = Celtics defeat Bucks, 4-0
WCF result = Rockets defeat Lakers, 4-1
The 1986 NBA Finals was the championship round of the
1985-86 NBA season. It pitted the Eastern Conference champion Boston Celticsagainst the Western Conference champion Houston Rockets. The Celtics defeated the Rockets four games to two to win their 16th NBA championship. The championship would be the Celtics' last until the 2008 NBA Finals. Larry Birdwas named the Finals MVP.
On another note, this series marked the first time the "NBA Finals" branding was used, as they dropped the "NBA World Championship" branding which had been in use since the beginning of the league.
Boston Celticsteam, which finished the regular season 67-15, is generally considered to be the best of Larry Bird's career. Under head coach K.C. Jones, the 1986 Celtics were certainly the deepest team of Bird's career. In addition to longtime teammates Kevin McHaleand Robert Parish, Bird was joined on the front line by former NBA MVP Bill Walton. Despite a career plagued by a series of serious injuries to his knees, ankles and chiefly his feet, Walton would win the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Awardin 1986 appearing in a career high 80 games. The backcourt was almost equally talented, led by defensive stopper Dennis Johnsonand shooting guard Danny Ainge. Off the bench, the Celtics featured former All-Star Scott Wedmanand recent acquisition (from the Indiana Pacers) Jerry Sichting.
The Celtics steamrolled through the Eastern Conference Playoffs, sweeping the
Chicago Bulls3-0 in the first round. The highlight of the first round was undoubtedly the Celtics double-overtime classic game 2. Matched up against a far superior Celtics team, Michael Jordanexploded for 63 points at the Boston Gardenand nearly lead his team to a stunning upset. The Celtics prevailed 135-131, and finished the series off two days later in Chicago. Then Boston defeated the young Atlanta Hawksfour games to one in the semifinals, highlighted by a game 5 blowout (132-99), that featured the Celtics hammering the Hawks in the third quarter by a score of 36-6.
The Eastern Conference Finals matched the Celtics up against the
Milwaukee Bucksand head coach Don Nelson, a former Celtic player who enraged the Celtics in the 1983 NBA Playoffsby accusing Celtic guard Danny Aingeof "dirty" play. The Celtics got their revenge, sweeping the Bucks easily. The Bucks and the Celtics met in the Playoffs four times during the Larry Bird era (1983, 1984, 1986 and 1987), and Boston won three of four (Milwaukee swept Boston in the 1983 Playoffs).
Houston Rockets, led by Hakeem Olajuwon, Ralph Sampson, and head coach Bill Fitch, won the Western Conference Championship in five games over the Los Angeles Lakers. Houston was entering the NBA Finals for only the second time in their history. Their last appearance was in 1981 against their 1986 opponents, the Boston Celtics. The season took an unexpected turn when the Houston Rockets eliminated the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, four games to one. Los Angeles had reshuffled its team in the off-season by releasing Bob McAdooand Jamaal Wilkespicking up veteran power forward Maurice Lucasin a trade, and rookie A.C. Greenthrough the draft. The Lakers got off to a good start on their way to a 62-20 record, but complacency had began to set in by playoff time as the Lakers blew out pretty much everyone they played. The Rockets, on the other hand, played with confidence and enthusiasm. With Bill Fitchas coach, they sported the original "Twin Towers," 7-foot-4 Ralph Sampsonat power forward and 7'0 Hakeem Olajuwon at center. Jim Petersenbacked up the Twin Towers, while Robert Reid and Rodney McCray shared time at small forward. The guards included Mitchell Wiggins, Lewis Lloyd and Allen Leavell and John Lucas before being suspended by the league for violating the leagues drug policy.
The Rockets claimed the Midwest Division title with a 51-31 record. They ousted the
Sacramento Kingsand the Denver Nuggetseasily in the playoffs before losing the first game against the Lakers in the Forum, then coming back to sweep four straight.
Their fourth victory against Los Angeles came on a buzzer-beating, turnaround jumper by Sampson in the Forum. Houston had set up the final play with a mere second on the clock. Sampson caught the inbounds pass, whirled and released. The ball hit the rim, bounced high and fell through the basket, ending the Lakers season and sending the Rockets back to the NBA Finals.
Larry Birdled Celtics would defeat the Rockets again 4 games to 2 in the 1986 NBA Finals. The Celtics dominated the first two games at the Boston Garden, where they had gone 40-1 during the regular season. The Rockets had been almost as good at home during the season, and they defeated the Celtics 106-104 in game three. Game 4 would be a tense battle at the Summit and the Celtics prevailed 106-103, with Bill Waltoncoming off the bench to spell a tired Robert Parishto score a crucial basket. The infamous fifth game featured the signature moment of the series, when 7'4" Ralph Sampsonignited a brawl with Jerry Sichting, a player 15 inches shorter than he, ultimately leading to Sampson's ejection. While Jim Petersenwould lead the Rockets to a decisive victory, Sampson's actions would motivate the Celtics to end the series in six. Bird would dismantle the Rockets in game 6, as the Garden crowd booed every time Sampson touched the ball. The Celtics blew out the Rockets 114-97 in a game that wasn't as close as the score would indicate.
Bird was named the Finals' MVP for that year, averaging 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists per game for the series. It was the Celtics' 16th championship in 40 years and it was their last championship before winning their 17th NBA championship in 2008.
Finals Series Summary
"Boston beats Houston 4-2"
Following the conclusion of the 1986 NBA Finals, a video documentary of the 1986 NBA season, known as "Sweet Sixteen", was released. David Perry was the narrator after
Dick Stocktonnarrated the last three NBA season documentaries.
The closing song following Game 6 was "
Whatever We Imagine" by James Ingram.
1986 NBA Playoffs
* [http://www.nba.com/history/finals/19851986.html NBA History]
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