The Boston Celtics are one of the most successful American sports franchises of all time. With 17 championships, a .591 winning percentage and 38 Hall of Famers, the Celtics have a long and proud history. But who was the best of the best? Which team was the best to grace the court in Celtics’ colors? Here are the five best teams the Boston Celtics have ever had, based on the team’s quality, winning percentage and success on the court.
Number 5: 2007/08(66-16)
Best player: Kevin Garnett(18.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists)
This team is the third-best Celtics team by their regular-season record in the 82 game era. However, they were not built for long term success, which meant that they don’t have the same legacy as other great Celtics teams. In fact, only six players on this championship side survived until the 2010-11 season, just three years later. However, this team was incredible. Headlined by the talents of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and sharpshooter Ray Allen, the team steamrollered the league on their way to 66 wins.
They then struggled a little in the playoffs, getting taken to Game 7 twice, but reached the Finals to play Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. They won in six against the Lakers, with Pierce winning Finals MVP. Although Pierce claimed the credit in the postseason, this team relied on the performances of Garnett, who claimed the DPOY that season. This is the last championship team for the Celtics, although their current crop could definitely add more in the next few years.
Number 4: 1972/73(68-14)
Best player: John Havlicek(23.8 points, 7.1 rebounds, 6.6 assists)
This seems unfairly low for the team with the best regular-season record in Celtics history, but this team, unfortunately, was knocked out in the Eastern Conference Finals. This team was full of talent, though. They had six future Hall of Famers and were eight wins better than any other team in the league and 11 more than the eventual champion Knicks.
They, unfortunately, were knocked out by the Knicks in the Eastern Conference Finals, becoming the first NBA team to win 65+ games and not win it all. Although Jo Jo White, Paul Westphal and John Havlicek combined for 64 points a game, the rest of the team wasn’t able to provide adequate support. This team was the greatest to never win the championship until the 73-9 Warriors arrived on the scene.
Number 3: 1964-65(62-18)
Best player: Bill Russell(14.1 points, 24.1 rebounds, 5.3 assists)
This Celtics’ team came in the second half of the 1960s dynasty. It was also the best team of that era. In an 80 game season, they won 62 of their games, with Bill Russell winning the MVP award for the fifth and final time. This team dominated, as the Celtics did throughout Russell’s career. The likes of a young John Havlicek, KC Jones, Sam Jones, and Tom Heinsohn were all incredible players who helped the Celtics win it all, for the ninth championship in 10 years. Considering how good this team was, they should probably be higher, but they played in a weaker era than any team after them, which is why they are coming in at No. 3.
Number 2: 1983/84(62-20)
Best player: Larry Bird(24.2 points, 10.1 rebounds, 6.6 assists)
The 1983-84 Celtics were the best in the league by some distance. Not only were they the only 60-win team, but they also won eight more games than the Lakers, who finished as the second-best team in the league. This was the beginning of Larry Bird’s run of dominance, where he won three MVPs in a row, which was tied for the longest run in the league’s history. This season marked the true beginning of the Big 3 of Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, and the apex of the Celtic’s battle with the Lakers for dominance in the 1980s.
Number 1: 1985/86(67-15)
Best player: Larry Bird(25.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, 6.8 assists)
This team was insane. With their unbeatable trio of Bird, Parish and Kevin McHale, which could possibly have been the first Big-3 in NBA history, the Celtics steamrollered their opposition. After winning 67 games, the second-most in franchise history, they then dropped just three games throughout the playoffs, two in the Finals and one in Michael Jordan’s 63 point game. This was the Celtics’ last championship before Garnett and Pierce brought back another championship. This was also Bird’s third MVP season in a row, a run no player has replicated since. All in all, this is the greatest Celtics team ever.