1985 NBA Finals

The 1985 NBA World Championship Series was the championship round of the National Basketball Association (NBA)'s 1984–85 season, and the culmination of the season's playoffs. It featured the defending NBA champion and Eastern Conference playoff champion Boston Celtics against the Western Conference playoff champion Los Angeles Lakers.

The Celtics were looking to repeat as NBA champions for the first time since the 1968–69 season. The Celtics had home court advantage for the second year in a row as they finished the regular season with a 63–19 record while the Lakers compiled a 62–20 record. The Lakers looked to bounce back from the previous year's painful loss to the Celtics in the championship series, and were still seeking to beat Boston for the first time ever in NBA Finals history. Also for the first time, the Finals went to a 2-3-2 format with Games 1 and 2 in Boston while the next three games were in Los Angeles. The final two games of the series would be played in Boston, if required. This change of format came after David Stern had a conversation with Celtics legend Red Auerbach in 1984, who didn't like the frequent traveling between games. The 2-3-2 format would be used until the 2013 NBA Finals, after which the 2-2-1-1-1 format returned the following year.

The Los Angeles Lakers with the help of Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Magic Johnson defeated the Celtics four games to two to defeat the Celtics for the first time in Laker history in the NBA Finals.

It would mark the last time the NBA World Championship Series branding would be in use as the NBA Finals branding would replace it the next season.

The video documentary Return to Glory recaps the 1985 NBA Playoff action.

Background

Los Angeles Lakers

After losing to the Celtics in the previous year's finals, the Lakers entered the 1984–85 NBA season with a mission. Once again using the effective Showtime offense, they ran away with the Western Conference-leading 62 wins. The team as a whole underwent a slight evolution, as James Worthy supplanted Jamaal Wilkes as the starting small forward, while Byron Scott began to earn more minutes as the backup to both Magic Johnson and Michael Cooper.

In the playoffs, the Lakers eliminated the Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets, going 11–2 in the three playoff rounds.

Boston Celtics

The Celtics repeated with the NBA's best record by winning 63 games. For the second straight season, Larry Bird won the MVP award, while Kevin McHale won Sixth Man Award for the second year running, despite making the transition from bench cog to starter late in the season with Cedric Maxwell nursing a knee injury. Danny Ainge also emerged as the team's starting shooting guard, after the Celtics traded Gerald Henderson to the Seattle SuperSonics in the offseason.

The Celtics defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons and Philadelphia 76ers, finishing with an 11–4 record heading into the finals. By that point, Boston's classic starting five under head coach K. C. Jones was solidified, featuring Bird, McHale and Robert Parish in the frontcourt, and Ainge and Dennis Johnson in the backcourt.

Road to the Finals

Regular season series

Both teams split the two meetings, each won by the home team:

Series summary

Game 1

May 27
3:30 p.m. EDT
Los Angeles Lakers 114, Boston Celtics 148
Scoring by quarter: 24–38, 25–41, 30–29, 35–40
Pts: James Worthy 20
Rebs: Kurt Rambis 9
Asts: Magic Johnson 12
Pts: McHale, Wedman 26 each
Rebs: Kevin McHale 9
Asts: Dennis Johnson 10
Boston leads the series, 1–0
Boston Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Attendance: 14,890
Referees:
  • No. 10 Darell Garretson
  • No. 20 Jess Kersey

The Celtics defeated the Lakers 148–114. It was dubbed the "Memorial Day Massacre" and a profound embarrassment for the Lakers team. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had only 12 points and 3 rebounds, while Magic Johnson pulled down only one rebound. Danny Ainge of the Celtics started hot, scoring 15 points in the first quarter. Scott Wedman made all 11 shots he took from the field. Afterwards, Abdul-Jabbar apologized to his teammates for his terrible performance.

The 34-point differential set a new record for a Finals game between the Celtics and Lakers in their rivalry. This record would stand until the 2008 NBA Finals, when the Celtics defeated the Lakers, 131-92.

Game 2

May 30
9 p.m. EDT
Los Angeles Lakers 109, Boston Celtics 102
Scoring by quarter: 31–26, 33–20, 23–29, 22–27
Pts: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 30
Rebs: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 17
Asts: Magic Johnson 13
Pts: Larry Bird 30
Rebs: Larry Bird 12
Asts: Dennis Johnson 8
Series tied, 1–1
Boston Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Attendance: 14,890
Referees:
  • No. 11 Jake O'Donnell
  • No. 9 John Vanak

The Lakers recovered from the Game 1 loss behind Abdul-Jabbar's 30 points, 17 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 8 assists. Lakers swingman Michael Cooper finished with 22 points on an 8 for 9 shooting performance, including several clutch outside jumpers down the stretch. The series was evened at 1–1.

Game 3

June 2
12:30 p.m. PDT
Boston Celtics 111, Los Angeles Lakers 136
Scoring by quarter: 29–25, 30–40, 26–35, 26–36
Pts: Kevin McHale 31
Rebs: Kevin McHale 10
Asts: Danny Ainge 10
Pts: James Worthy 29
Rebs: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 14
Asts: Magic Johnson 16
Los Angeles leads the series, 2–1
The Forum, Inglewood, California
Attendance: 17,505
Referees:
  • No. 25 Hugh Evans
  • No. 12 Earl Strom

The Celtics held a 48–38 lead in the second quarter before the Lakers rallied and led, 65–59, at halftime. The Lakers pulled away in the second half and won the game 136–111. Abdul-Jabbar scored his 4,456th career point and became the league's all-time leading playoff scorer, which had previously been held by Lakers guard Jerry West. Larry Bird's shooting slump from game 2 continued. He shot a combined 17 of 42 from the field in games two and three. James Worthy led the Lakers with 29 points.

Game 4

June 5
6 p.m. PDT
Boston Celtics 107, Los Angeles Lakers 105
Scoring by quarter: 28–32, 31–26, 23–26, 25–21
Pts: Kevin McHale 28
Rebs: Kevin McHale 12
Asts: Dennis Johnson 12
Pts: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 21
Rebs: Magic Johnson 11
Asts: Magic Johnson 12
Series tied, 2–2
The Forum, Inglewood, California
Attendance: 17,505
Referees:
  • No. 4 Ed T. Rush
  • No. 9 John Vanak

The Celtics tied the series in the fourth game with a 107–105 win with a buzzer-beating jumper by Dennis Johnson, who scored 27 points. Kevin McHale led all players with 28 points to go along with 12 rebounds for the Celtics.

Game 5

June 7
Boston Celtics 111, Los Angeles Lakers 120
Scoring by quarter: 31–35, 20–29, 30–31, 30–25
Pts: Robert Parish 26
Rebs: Kevin McHale 10
Asts: Dennis Johnson 17
Pts: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 36
Rebs: Kurt Rambis 9
Asts: Magic Johnson 17
Los Angeles leads the series, 3–2
The Forum, Inglewood, California
Attendance: 17,505
Referees:
  • No. 10 Darell Garretson
  • No. 11 Jake O'Donnell

In this game, the Lakers stomped out the Celtics by jumping out to a 64–51 lead and stretched it to 89–72 before the Celtics cut the deficit to 4 points, late in the 4th quarter. The Celtics would cut the lead to 4 points several times, but the Lakers answered each time. Magic Johnson made three shots, Kareem added four more shots, and Cooper hit 2 outside jumpers, and the Lakers came away with a 120–111 victory to take a 3–2 series lead.

Game 6

June 9
Los Angeles Lakers 111, Boston Celtics 100
Scoring by quarter: 28–26, 27–29, 27–18, 29–27
Pts: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 29
Rebs: Johnson, Rambis 10 each
Asts: Magic Johnson 14
Pts: Kevin McHale 32
Rebs: Kevin McHale 16
Asts: Danny Ainge 11
Los Angeles wins the series, 4–2
Boston Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Attendance: 14,890
Referees:
  • No. 25 Hugh Evans
  • No. 12 Earl Strom

In the series clincher, the game was tied at halftime. The Lakers would hold the Celtics to just 18 third quarter points to pull away. Abdul-Jabbar scored 29 points and James Worthy scored 28 of his own, as Los Angeles became the first team to clinch a title at the Boston Garden. Magic Johnson dished out a game-high 14 assists. Celtics' forward Kevin McHale scored 32 points and grabbed 16 rebounds--both game-highs--before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Larry Bird's dismal shooting continued as he hit just 12 of 29 shots.

The 38-year-old Abdul-Jabbar was named MVP of the series, his second Finals MVP award and first since 1971 (back when he was known as Lew Alcindor), averaging 25.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.5 blocks in the six games. Worthy averaged 23.7 points for the Lakers, while Magic Johnson scored 18.3 points per game to go along with 14.0 assists and 6.8 rebounds. Los Angeles shot 51.2% as a team for the series.

McHale led Boston in scoring (26.0) and rebounding (10.7) while shooting 59.8% from the floor. Bird averaged 23.8 points and 8.8 rebounds on just 44.9% shooting. Celtics' guard Dennis Johnson led both teams in minutes played (247). Boston shot 47.6% from the floor while out-rebounding Los Angeles 259-256.

It was the first time (and so far only) in NBA Finals history where the other team clinched the championship against the Celtics in Boston. It was also the Celtics' second Finals series defeat, having previously lost to the St. Louis Hawks in 1958.

Player statistics

Legend
  GPGames played  GS Games started MPG Minutes per game
 FG% Field-goal percentage 3P% 3-point field-goal percentage FT% Free-throw percentage
 RPG Rebounds per game APG Assists per game SPG Steals per game
 BPG Blocks per game PPG Points per game
Los Angeles Lakers
Boston Celtics

Television coverage

The Finals were telecast by CBS in the United States, with its coverage anchored by Brent Musburger. Dick Stockton did play-by-play with Tom Heinsohn as color analyst, working their second Finals together. Pat O'Brien worked sideline duties for both teams.

Celebration

The Lakers were invited to a reception at the White House with President Ronald Reagan, where Kareem Abdul-Jabbar presented the President with a jersey. The following Tuesday would be declared "Laker Day" by Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley with a parade beginning at 9th and Broadway.

Team rosters

Los Angeles Lakers

Roster listing
1984–85 Los Angeles Lakers roster
PlayersCoaches
Pos.No.NameHeightWeightDOB (YYYY-MM-DD)From
C33Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem7 ft 2 in (2.18 m)225 lb (102 kg)1947–04–16UCLA
SG21Cooper, Michael6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)170 lb (77 kg)1956–04–15New Mexico
PG32Johnson, Magic6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)215 lb (98 kg)1959–08–14Michigan State
C1Jones, Earl7 ft 0 in (2.13 m)210 lb (95 kg)1961–01–13University of the District of Columbia
PF25Kupchak, Mitch6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)230 lb (104 kg)1954–05–24North Carolina
PG12Lester, Ronnie6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)175 lb (79 kg)1959–01–01Iowa
C11McAdoo, Bob6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)210 lb (95 kg)1951–09–25North Carolina
SF40McGee, Mike6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)190 lb (86 kg)1959–07–29Michigan
C43Nevitt, Chuck7 ft 5 in (2.26 m)217 lb (98 kg)1959–06–13North Carolina State
PF31Rambis, Kurt6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)213 lb (97 kg)1958–02–25Santa Clara
SG4Scott, Byron6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)195 lb (88 kg)1961–03–28Arizona State
PF35Spriggs, Larry6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)230 lb (104 kg)1959–09–08Howard
SF52Wilkes, Jamaal6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)190 lb (86 kg)1953–05–02UCLA
SF42Worthy, James6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)225 lb (102 kg)1961–02–27North Carolina
Head coach
Assistant coach(es)

Legend
  • (C) Team captain
  • (DP) Unsigned draft pick
  • (FA) Free agent
  • (S) Suspended
  • Injured Injured

Boston Celtics

Roster listing
1984–85 Boston Celtics roster
PlayersCoaches
Pos.No.NameHeightWeightDOB (YYYY-MM-DD)From
G/F44Ainge, Danny6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)175 lb (79 kg)1959–03–17BYU
F33Bird, Larry (C)6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)220 lb (100 kg)1956–12–07Indiana State
G28Buckner, Quinn6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)190 lb (86 kg)1954–08–20Indiana
G34Carlisle, Rick6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)210 lb (95 kg)1959–10–27Virginia
G/F30Carr, M.L.6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)205 lb (93 kg)1951–01–09Guilford
G40Clark, Carlos6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)210 lb (95 kg)1960–08–10Mississippi
G3Johnson, Dennis6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)185 lb (84 kg)1954–09–18Pepperdine
C50Kite, Greg6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)250 lb (113 kg)1961–08–05BYU
F31Maxwell, Cedric6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)205 lb (93 kg)1955–11–21Charlotte
F/C32McHale, Kevin6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)210 lb (95 kg)1957–12–19Minnesota
C00Parish, Robert7 ft 0 in (2.13 m)230 lb (104 kg)1953–08–30Centenary College of Louisiana
G/F8Wedman, Scott6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)215 lb (98 kg)1952–07–29Colorado
G20Williams, Ray6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)188 lb (85 kg)1954–10–14Minnesota
Head coach
Assistant coach(es)

Legend
  • (C) Team captain
  • (DP) Unsigned draft pick
  • (FA) Free agent
  • (S) Suspended
  • Injured Injured

See also

External links

Uses material from the Wikipedia article 1985 NBA Finals, released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.