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Celtics vs. Lakers Matchup History

NBA Finals – Celtics vs. Lakers Again…

Phil Jackson would never admit it, but it has to stick in his craw that of the nine times that he has coached teams to the NBA titles, he has never beaten the Celtics in The Finals.

Course, he had only one chance (2008) and Jackson’s Lakers went down in flames that year, so the sample isn’t large.

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Still, Jackson has been known to fib on occasion, and it would be a large and rather obvious mistruth if he were to say that beating Boston this year would rank no higher than any of his other championships.

Jackson has more championship pelts on his wall than any other coach, and as he was ready to pass Boston’s Red Auerbach back in the early part of the new century, the cranky Auerbach never passed up an opportunity to downplay Jackson’s accomplishments, implying that he was the NBA’s version of Rosie Ruiz, the Boston Marathon fraud who claimed victory after running only the final mile of the race back in 1980.

This is Jackson’s second to throw another shovelful of dirt on Auerbach’s grave, to show that he had a hand in all those championships and that Michael Jordan, Shaq O’Neal and Kobe Bryant weren’t served to him on a silver platter.

ELEVEN TIMES the Celtics and Lakers have met in The Finals, and 9 times the Celtics have won. This year’s meeting compares favorably to the one the teams waged 41 years ago, in 1969.

The aging Celtics barely made the playoffs and were given little chance against the Lakers, who were loaded (Elgin Baylor, Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain).

The teams battled to a 7th game, in LA, and Lakers owner Jack Kent Cooke made the big mistake of planning a post-game celebration featuring thousands of balloons to be dropped from the rafters and the USC band marching onto the court.

But Don Nelson’s late-game shot that hit iron, bounced high into the air and through the cylinder won it for Boston, and the Celtics players pointed to the balloons as they jogged to the locker room. Sports Betting at Sportsbook.com

THE MODERN NBA cut it teeth in the mid-1980s, when the Larry Bird Celtics and the Magic Johnson Lakers ruled their respective conferences like T-Rexes.

In 1984 an incensed Bird called out his teammates after a loss in Game 3, and Game 4 turned into a Mixed Martial Arts precursor. Kevin McHale clothes-lined Kurt Rambis and sent him into the third row, and Bird had physical issues with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Cooper in the non-airconditioned Boston Garden. After the Celtics won in Game 7, Auerbach mocked the Lakers’ “dynasty.”

Twelve months later the Lakers got a measure of revenge, becoming the only team to win a title on the Garden floor; in 1987 the Lakers made it back-to-back titles over Boston, with Magic’s sky-hook in the lane in Game 4 becoming the series’ signature shot.

ANYONE WHO WAS ANYONE for the Lakers or Celtics defined themselves by how they did against the team from the other coast. Championships that the Celtics won in the 1970s with Tommy Heinsohn as coach and Dave Cowens at center, as well as the 1981 Finals victory over Houston, are almost lost in Celtics folklore.

Likewise, Los Angeles titles in 2000 (over Indiana), 2001 (Philadelphia (2001) and New Jersey (2003) carry much less weight than the 1985 and ’87 championships do.

SEVERAL LAKERS have has tremendous Finals efforts against the Celtics. West was valiant in defeat, but lost so many times to Boston in the 1960s (5 times, to be exact) that he was in near tears just talking about it. In 1963 West and Baylor averaged a combined 68 points over a 6-game series, but Bill Russell’s Celtics had more depth. Magic was incredible in leading the Lakers to their only two titles against Boston.

And Kobe Bryant kept the Lakers together in 2008 when everyone else was freaking out trying to deal with Boston’s smothering defense.

The Celtics, by contrast, have always lived by the It Takes a Village philosophy and preferred defense over offense.

In 1962, when the NBA was still dominated by white players, Russell hauled down 189 rebounds in 7 games, trumping a 61-point Game 5 turned in by Baylor in what may have been the greatest championship series ever.



Lawrence Paul is a regular contributor to the Cappers Picks Blog, and is a free-lance gambling and travel expert from Massachusetts.


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About Lawrence Paul

Lawrence Paul is back in the saddle as a regular contributor to the Cappers Picks Blog. He's got an AMAZING knack for predicting when a team will have a letdown! Stick with our resident gambling experts sports betting tips all season long!