10 most entertaining series in NBA Finals history


Choosing between the best NBA Finals ever isn’t an easy task. We’ve witnessed 74 seasons of greatness and some of the best players in NBA history didn’t even reach that stage throughout their careers. That’s just how difficult it is to thrive in this league.

Best NBA Finals ever

The NBA Finals is where players become legends, where legacies are made, and where you make history. Some of the most entertaining NBA playoffs series have helped players shape narratives around them, both for good and bad.

So, now that we’ve reached this stage again, the time has come to look back and reflect on some of the greatest NBA Finals of all time.

That’s why today, we’re going to let you know about some of the best individual NBA Finals performances, some legacy and franchise-defining moments, and the 10 best NBA Finals ever:

1969

The Los Angeles Lakers were poised to beat Bill Russell‘s Boston Celtics dynasty. They had a 3-2 series lead and had inflated hundreds of ballons before the game to celebrate their NBA title. Then, Russell led his team with 19 boards in Game 6 to live for another day.

Game 7 didn’t go the Lakers’ way, either. Don Nelson knocked down one of the most iconic shots in NBA Finals history, giving Russell his 11th and final ring in 13 seasons. Jerry West averaged a whopping 38 points per game in the series. He went on to win Finals MVP, the only time a player from the losing team won this award.

1962

It doesn’t get more exciting than this. The 1962 NBA Finals were one of just three series that were decided in seven games. But if that wasn’t enough, the Boston Celtics actually had to go through overtime to clinch this title against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers had a shot to win in regulation but Frank Selvy missed it.

In their first NBA Finals matchup since the Lakers moved to L.A., Bill Russell averaged a whopping 27 rebounds per game in this series, including 40 boards in Game 7. Elgin Baylor scored 61 points with 22 boards in Game 5 but it wasn’t enough to get past their lifelong rivals.

1993

Charles Barkley was the league’s MVP and determined to prove that he was just as good as Michael Jordan. Jordan took offense to that MVP snub and well, let’s just say the Phoenix Suns paid the price. The Chicago Bulls jumped to a 2-0 series lead behind MJ’s 42 points, 12 boards, and 9 dimes in Game 2.

Barkley and the Suns took the Bulls to triple-overtime in Game 3 to cut the deficit in half. Then, following a 55-point explosion by Jordan in Game 4, the Suns lived another day with a road win in Game 5. The Suns were on the verge of tying the series and forcing Game 7 before a huge bucket by John Paxson sealed the win and gave the Bulls their first three-peat. Jordan averaged 41 points, 8.5 boards, and 6.3 dimes in the series.

1970

Even though the Los Angeles Lakers had Wilt Chamberlain in their ranks, most people expected the New York Knicks to get the win. Both teams went back and forth with their big men leading the way and Walt Frazier wreaking havoc out of the backcourt.

And just when it seemed like the Lakers were going to win, a clearly hurt and injured Willis Reed still decided to play in Game 7. The Knicks had all the emotional momentum going, with Reed knocking down a couple of buckets over Chamberlain. Eventually, the Knicks got a 113-99 win thanks to that psychological edge and Walt Frazier’s 36 points.

1985

The Los Angeles Lakers had lost to the Boston Celtics eight times in the NBA Finals, including in 1984. But things finally changed in 1985, when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar led the Showtime Lakers to a much-needed win over their lifelong rivals. Also, they became the first visiting team to win an NBA championship in Boston.

The Celtics demolished the Lakers 148-114 in Game 1. After that ‘Memorial Day Massacre’, Kareem put together some of the best performances of his career. With Magic Johnson by his side averaging nearly a triple-double, the Lakers finally got the last laugh and beat Larry Bird‘s team in six games.

1988

The up-and-coming ‘Bad Boys’ Detroit Pistons finally dethroned the Celtics as the East’s finest. However, the Lakers still had the West in a chokehold. The stage was set for a physical, gritty, and unpredictable NBA Finals series, with the Pistons taking Game 1 before the Lakers rallied to get a 2-1 lead in the series.

The Lakers held on despite the Pistons’ physicality and forced Game 7 after a key miss by Joe Dumars. Isiah Thomas struggled with an ankle injury but Detroit still made it a two-point game with just over a minute remaining. But ‘Big Game’ James Worthy put on a show with 36 points and 16 boards to uplift his team and win Finals MVP. Notably, this was the last of five titles won by the Showtime dynasty.

1984

The Larry Bird-Magic Johnson rivalry reached its pinnacle during the 1984 NBA Finals. Magic and the Lakers had the edge by winning two rings and making it to three Finals, yet they had never squared off on the ultimate stage. That happened for the first time in 1984, with Bird finally getting back at Magic for that NCAA championship game.

The Celtics were down 2-1 in the series before Bird picked his teammates’ brains to orchestrate a huge rally. The series eventually went to seven games, with Robert Parish dominating the glass, and Bird putting up 20 with 12 boards in the title-winning effort.

2013

The 2013 NBA Finals were one for the ages except for those Miami Heat fans who left the arena early. The San Antonio Spurs had a 3-2 series lead and a 13-point lead late in Game 6. The trophy was on the sidelines and the Commissioner was getting his speech ready. But LeBron James had different plans in mind.

James and the Heat made it a close game before Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili scored seven in a row to give his team a six-point lead with less than 30 seconds left.

LeBron made a three, Kawhi Leonard missed a free throw, and the Heat trailed by just a triple. LeBron took the shot and missed but Chris Bosh grabbed an offensive rebound and kicked it out to Ray Allen for the game-tying three. The Heat won in overtime and then won the series in seven games.

1998

The Chicago Bulls’ last dance was as iconic as it was epic. The Utah Jazz were ready to get back at them for that loss in the 1997 NBA Finals and looked like the better team despite the Bulls’ back-to-back titles. The Jazz took Game 1 but it was all Chicago from there, including a 42-point win in Game 3 thanks to Dennis Rodman‘s suffocating defense.

The Jazz lived another day and put the series 3-2 thanks to Karl Malone‘s 39-point outburst, but the best was yet to come. Utah was on the verge of evening things up in Game 6 before Jordan stripped the ball out of Malone’s hands in the post.

The shot clock was off, MJ waived everybody off and took Bryon Russell one on one. He knocked down the championship-winning shot and gave the Bulls their second three-peat in eight seasons. That was Jordan’s final shot as a Bull.

2016

The 2016 NBA Finals are by far the most epic ever. The Golden State Warriors were coming off a record-breaking 73-win season and had a 3-1 lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Finals. Then, LeBron and Kyrie Irving decided to spoil their party.

James and the Cavs became the first team to come back from a 3-1 series deficit. Game 7 was one of James’ finest performances, including an iconic chase-down block over Andre Iguodala. Then, Kyrie Irving sunk a huge shot over Stephen Curry to win the most emotional ring in NBA history.

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Choosing between the best NBA Finals ever isn’t an easy task. We’ve witnessed 74 seasons of greatness and some of the best players in NBA history didn’t even reach that stage throughout their careers. That’s just how difficult it is to thrive in this league. Best NBA Finals ever The NBA Finals is where players…