Top 5 Tuesday: Greatest NBA Finals

Taking a look back as we gear up for tonight's action.

James LeBeauby James LeBeau

1962: Boston Celtics over Los Angeles Lakers, 4-3

The Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers have met 12 times in the NBA Finals but like all storied matchups, there has to be a beginning and this is it. It was a tale of experience vs youth as the young Lakers were facing off against a Celtics team that had reached the Finals five consecutive times before this one and though age would prevail, it took all seven games to do so. Game seven of this series was highlighted by Celtics legend Bill Russell pulling down a mind-boggling 40 rebounds, including 19 in one quarter.

1970: New York Knicks over Los Angeles Lakers, 4-3

Besides Michael Jordan's step back jumper that put the final nail in the Jazz's coffin, described below, this series delivered one of the most remembered moments ever seen in the Finals. Willis Reed, one of the Knicks best, was suffering from a severe thigh injury that kept him out of game 6 and was expected to keep him from game 7 as well. Inexplicably, however, he suited up and was on the court for warm-ups and the opening tip. He also scored the Knicks first two points and though those would be the only points he would score, it was enough to inspire his teammates to capture the game and the series.

1994: Houston Rockets over New York Knicks, 4-3

It was the rematch of the 1984 NCAA Championship showdown that put Patrick Ewing vs Hakeem Olajuwan against each other when the Houston Rockets faced the New York Knicks. With the Bulls Michael Jordan taking batting practice, the NBA was ripe for a new champion and the Rockets delivered as a dominant Olajuwan dominated Ewing and avenged his NCAA Championship loss with an inspired performance throughout this series. He averaged 27 points a game to Ewings 19, which set the tone for the eventual Rockets win.

1969: Boston Celtics over Los Angeles Lakers, 4-3

This was the last stand of the Bull Russell Celtics and they went out in style, on their rivals home court, ripping the hearts and the series form a Los Angeles team poised for a celebration. Nobody gave the fourth seeded Celtics team much of a shot but when you have heart and talent, anything can happen, and it showed. This series was also highlighted by being the only time a player from a losing team received series MVP honors, as the Lakers Jerry West received that honor for his stunning finals performance.

1998: Chicago Bulls over Utah Jazz, 4-2

Sometimes a series can be summed up in one play and that is the case when the Jazz met the Michael Jordan led Bulls in the '98 Finals. It was game 6 and the Jazz were up 1 with hardly any time left on the clock. Utah's Carl Malone had the ball stolen from him by Jordan who took it to the top of the point, guarded by Byron Russell. He then dribbled right, got away with a push-off with his left, put the ball up for the money shot and then did the pose after it went down. One John Stockton missed three later and the Bulls added another ring to the collection.

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