Boston vs Los Angeles: 1987 NBA Finals Game 4
The rivalry between Birds Celtics and Magics Lakers is the most memorable of the 1980s. And in their 1987 NBA finals matchup, both teams were at the height of their respective powers. The Boston Celtics were coming off a dominating NBA championship run in which they won 67 games and demolished the Rockets in the NBA finals. The Lakers had a disappointing 1986 season, losing to the Rockets in the Western Conference Finals, but they beat the Celtics in the finals in 1985 and were looking to get another one over on their archrivals.
The 1987 finals were a hard-fought affair. Boston came in with multiple players playing injured, most notably star big man Kevin McHale. Even still Boston kept the series close, the Lakers were up two games to one, and Boston had a huge chance to tie the series up at home in the Boston Garden.
Game 4 is a great showcase of the best the Lakers Celtics rivalry has to offer. Nearly every major player from that era played and played well (with the exception of Kareem). Larry Bird had a poor shooting night but his passing and tenacity were a joy to behold, keeping Boston ahead for most of the game.
As the 4th quarter progressed the Lakers slowly started to close Boston’s narrow lead, mainly due to some stellar play from Magic Johnson. And it would be Magic himself who would seal the game for the Lakers when he buried a skyhook, his teammate Kareem Abdul-Jabaars signature shot, with mere seconds remaining to give the Lakers the win in Boston and a commanding 3-1 series lead which they would not relinquish.
Indiana vs New York: 1994 Eastern Conference Finals Game 5
There is nothing more beautiful in basketball than watching a talented scorer just completely lock-in. When it seems like every single shot they put up is going in, no matter how many people are guarding them or where they are on the court. Reggie Miller had many such moments over the course of his NBA career, but none are more awe-inspiring than his herculean 1994 performance in Madison Square Garden.
Indiana and New York had many hard-fought series throughout the 1990s and this one was no different. The teams split the first four games heading into a pivotal game five in the Garden. Through the first three-quarters, Miller had a pedestrian 14 points and the Knicks led 70-58. But then Miller absolutely caught fire. Over the course of the final 12 minutes, Miller scored 25 points with a dazzling array of mid-range jumpers and three-pointers. After an especially audacious long-range bomb, Miller had one of his most iconic moments when he looked at famous director Spike Lee in the front row and gave him the choke sign. Unsurprisingly, the Knicks did go on to choke the game away, losing by six. Although New York would have the last laugh, winning the series in seven to advance to the NBA Finals.
Chicago vs. Boston: 1986 Eastern Conference First Round Game 2
Seen in episode 2 of ESPN’s hit documentary series ‘The Last Dance’, game 2 of the eastern conference first-round series between Chicago and Boston featured the greatest scoring outburst in NBA playoff history.
Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls limped into the playoffs with a 30-52 record with Jordan having missed most of the season due to a broken foot. Their opponent, the Boston Celtics, were coming off one of the most dominant regular seasons in NBA history and were looking for an easy round one victory.
But Michael Jordan wouldn’t go down without a fight. After scoring 49 points in game one of the series, Jordan put the basketball world officially on notice with an NBA playoff record 63 points in an overtime loss. This was the first game where it was abundantly clear that Michael Jordan had the potential to be the greatest player of all time and it remains to this day possibly the greatest scoring clinic ever put on in an NBA game.
All stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference
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