NBA Finals

NBA Finals; The NBA Finals are an annual tournament for the National Basketball Association (NBA). In Eastern and Western champions conference plays better than seven series games to determine the league champions. The team that won the series was awarded the Larry O’Brien Championship, which replaced Walter A. Brown’s Trophy in 1983.

The BAA Finals

The series was initially known as the BAA Finals before the 1949-50 season when the American Basketball Association (BAA) merged with the National Basketball League (NBL) to form the NBA. The competition oversaw other name changes for the NBA World Series from 1950 to 1985 and a brief period such as the clash before settling in for the NBA Finals in 1986. Since 2018, it is officially known as the NBA Finals.

The Origin of NBA Finals

NBA Finals
NBA Finals

The NBA Finals were initially organized in a 2-2-1-1-1 format. In 1985, to ease the volume of travel across the country, it was changed to a 2-3-2 configuration, where the first two games and the last two games of the series were played on the circuit of the team that earned home stadium advantage by getting the best record during the regular season. In 2014, coordination was restored. This team won the first two games, and the other won the following two. The remaining three in each team’s main arena are played alternately if necessary.

Who has the NBA Finals Records?

Nineteen teams won the NBA Finals, with the Los Angeles Lakers winning in 2020. The Lakers and Boston Celtics had the records for the most wins, having both won the competition 17 times. The Boston Celtics also won the most titles, winning eight consecutive championships from 1959 to 1966. The Los Angeles Lakers competed in the NBA Finals most of the time, making 32 appearances. The Eastern Conference delivered the most champions, with 38 wins from 10 franchises; The Western Conference has 34 franchises of 9.

1946-1956: Beginnings and Lakers Era

The Minneapolis Lakers dominated the starting era of modern professional basketball, winning half of the top 10 titles. The Philadelphia Rivers also won multiple championships, including the opener’s title in 1947 and another in 1956 for the cover of the NBA’s first decade. After its founding in 1946, the United States Basketball Association completed its inaugural season in April 1947 with the Philadelphia Warriors beating the Chicago Staggs in five games. The following season, the Warriors will again reach the finals, but they have not got the defunct Baltimore Bullets game.

In 1948, the Minneapolis Lakers won the rival National Basketball League championship before joining the BAA. The Lakers won their third and final BAA Championship in 1949 against Washington Capitals-trained Red Auerbach. The BAA will join with the NBL to become the NBA before starting the 1949-50 season. The Lakers will win the inaugural NBA Championship in 1950 to become the first team to be champions.

In 1951, the Rochester Royals team defeated the New York Knicks in the unique finals between two teams from the same state. This will be the first of three consecutive losses in the finals for the Knicks, where they lost the 1952 and 1953 finals to the Lakers. The Lakers will win again in 1954 to become the first team to race in a triple. This will be the Lakers’ fifth tournament in six years, and they won their final title in Minneapolis. In 1955, the Syracuse Nationals won their only title before becoming the Philadelphia 76ers, and in 1956 the Warriors won their second and final title in Philadelphia before eventually moving to California. Of the five franchises that won a championship from 1947 to 1956, one will be folded, and all four will be folded by 1964.

1957-1969: Celtics Era

The Boston Celtics went 11-1 in the NBA Finals during 12 seasons (1956-1957 to 1968-1969). They won eight consecutive NBA championships from 1959 until 1966. This period represents the most significant stretch of seasons in which one team made up more than 65% of the final appearance and also includes the only time the NBA Finals was decided in double overtime.

The creation of the Celtics dynasty in 1957, led by center Bill Russell, made the team a great success. Despite facing some difficulty when facing groups led by Wilt Chamberlain, in much of the late 1950s and 1960s, the Celtics and Russell managed to take control of Chamberlain’s teams.

In 1964, Chamberlain, who moved to California alongside his team, led the San Francisco Warriors to the Western Conference championship but failed to beat the Celtics again. The following season, he returned to the Eastern Conference to join the Philadelphia 76ers, former Syracuse citizens who moved to the city to cover the vacancy that arose with the departure of the Warriors.

Since many stars either refused or retired after this win, it was primarily recognized as the last NBA Finals conducted by the Celtics.

1970-1979: Parity Contract

The 1970s saw ten different teams reach the finals and eight other teams win the tournament, with the Celtics and the New York Knicks winning twice. In 1970, a classic final emerged between the Knicks against the Lakers. In the final moments of Game 3, with the series tied, Jerry West hit a basket of 60 feet to tie the game, a shot that became the most famous ever. However, the Knicks won in overtime and continued their momentum for a 4-3 victory, becoming the first team after the Celtics dynasty to win the NBA championship. The Milwaukee Bucks also won their first title, defeating the Baltimore lead in 1971.

Other franchises that won their first titles in the 1970s include the Portland Trail Blazers in 1977, and the Washington Bullets, which defeated the Super Sonics in 1978. The Super Sonics retaliated against the bullets the following season, winning their first title in 1979.

1980-1990: Competition between Celtics, Lakers, and Bad Boys

NBA Finals
NBA Finals

Between 1980 and 1990, the Celtics, 76ers, Lakers, and Detroit Pistons won all the NBA Finals. 1980-1990, the Lakers won five titles (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, and 1988). The Celtics won three times (1981, 1984, and 1986); The Pistons won twice (1989 and 1990); The 76 won once (1983).

1991-1998: Bulls Era

The Chicago Bulls’ superiority distinguished the majority of the 1990s. The Bulls, led by team manager Phil Jackson and star players Michael Jordan and Scotty Pippen, won six titles in six finals from 1991 to 1998. The only team to win the title during this time was the Houston Rockets, who won in 1994 and 1995, during Jordan’s first retirement from pro basketball.

1999-2010: Dominance of the Lakers and Tottenham

NBA Finals
NBA Finals

The Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs combined to win nine NBA championships during this period, representing the Western Division every year except 2006.

Spurs were responsible for winning four tournaments during this time, in 1999, 2003, 2005, and 2007. In the 1999 NBA playoffs, the Spurs finished with a 15-2 mark, including a sweep of the Blazers and Lakers. With a defensive squad led by David Robinson and Tim Duncan, San Antonio had 84.7 points per game, allowing the lowest number of points allowed in the postseason in the past 30 years. In that year’s finals, the Spurs acquired the New York Knicks; the first ranked No. 8 team to reach the finals in NBA history, averaging 79.8 points per game. During the 2003 NBA Finals, the Spurs defeated the New Jersey Nets in 6 games, which was also the first tournament to be contested between two former ABA teams. In Game 6, Duncan was two blocks away from scoring the first double-quad in NBA Finals history, finishing with 21 points, 20 rebounds, ten assists, and eight blocks. The Spurs went on to defeat the Detroit Pistons 4-3 in the 2005 NBA Finals and sweep the Cleveland Cavaliers led by LeBron James in the 2007 NBA Finals. Duncan won the Finals MVP in three years 1999, 2003, and 2005. In 2007, Tony Parker was awarded European Player of the Year, becoming the first European-born player to win the award.

2011-2014: Heatwave

LeBron James (left) and Chris Busch (right) joined Dwyane Wade (center) in the Miami Heat to form the Big Three.
During its season, 2010 Miami Heat skipper Dwyane Wade added free agents LeBron James and Chris Busch to form their Big Three. The Heat was mostly considered to be the top team to win many tournaments. They appeared in the successive four finals, winning twice in 2012 and 2013.

2015-2019: Warriors Era

NBA Finals
NBA Finals

The Golden State Warriors qualified to the NBA Finals in five consecutive tournaments from 2015 to 2019, winning in 2015, 2017, and 2018. The three wins and the 2016 loss were against the Cleveland Cavaliers. They became the first teams to face each other in four consecutive finals. Previously, two teams have not appeared in more than two straight finals.

Stephen Curry led the Golden State Warriors to the best regular season and postseason record in NBA history and three championships.

2020 Till Present

During the 2019 season, the Los Angeles Lakers secured All-Star forward Anthony Davis via trade from the New Orleans Pelicans. The Lakers continued to claim the top seed in the Western Conference, while the Warriors suffered injuries and failed to make the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons. In the 2019-20 NBA season, March 2020 was suspended due to ongoing COVID 19B and resumed on a shortened schedule in July 2020 within the NBA, isolating ESPN’s worldwide follow-up group “bubble” from the sports complex in Orlando, Florida. The Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat met in the 2020 NBA Finals, marking the first time in NBA history that two teams that missed the playoffs last year met in the Finals and the first time they played in the NBA Finals in a neutral, viewless location. The Lakers won the series 4-2, claiming their 17th title to equal the Boston Celtics franchise record. LeBron James was awarded the Final MVP for the fourth time in his career, becoming the first player to win the award with three different franchises.


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