The All-Time Tournament: NBA Finals
Boston Celtics(1) vs. Golden State Warriors(3)
Game 1: Celtics 104-100
In front of a standing room only crowd at the resurrected Boston Gardens, the Celtics stormed out to a game one victory over the Warriors thanks two heroic performances by Bill Russell (22 points, 17 rebounds) and Larry Bird (19 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists).
With the game tied at 93 with 2:20 left in the fourth quarter, Russell connects on a bank shot from the right wing to give the Celtics a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Game 2: Warriors 106-105
Strong frontcourt play was a big reason the Warriors tied the series at one game apiece. Playing in the shadow of Wilt Chamberlain all tournament long, Nate Thurmond has, understandably, been overlooked and underrated but shined bright in game two with seven points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. Thurmond’s performance complimented Wilt nicely as The Big Dipper hauled in 29 points and 21 rebounds.
Defensively, Chamberlain played Bill Russell effectively, holding the Celtic to six points on only seven field goal attempts.
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson kept the Warriors afloat from beyond the three point line, combining to shoot 7/14.
It’s worth pointing out that Bob Cousy ended the game by nailing a prayer from the opposite free throw line at the buzzer to pull the Celtics within one point. One can assume that Al Michaels was on the call and made a thinly veiled reference to gambling and the game hitting the over. We will never know for sure, but we can assume.
*Photo via AP
Game 3: Celtics 102-97
Larry Bird shot 64 percent from the field and scored 24 points to go with 12 rebounds as the Celtics used a late fourth quarter run to take the series lead back. A Wilt Chamberlain dunk with 1:55 left brought Golden State within one point but turnovers and missed shots doomed the Warriors.
Bill Russell had a quiet game by his tournament standards but the Celtic depth played a big role with John Havlicek, Kevin Garnett, and Kevin McHale all scoring in double digits while shooting at least 50 percent.
Robert Parish also got in on the scoring action in this game, with a repeat performance from the Eastern Conference Finals where he scored nine points in 10 minutes.
Game 4: Warriors 119-107
The Warriors rode a strong second half to a 119-107 victory and tied the series up at two games each. Seven Warriors scored nine points or more including a strong supporting performance by Latrell Sprewell (nine points, five rebounds, and eight assists). As has become routine during the tournament, Wilt Chamberlain led the way for Golden State with 27 points, 20 rebounds, and three blocks. Wilt even bottled up Bill Russell, holding the Celtic big man to 10 points and three rebounds.
The Celtics found their offensive spark in Larry Bird who was on fire during game four scoring 33 points on 13/15 shooting. However, the Celtics struggled to help Bird offensively. Bob Cousy and John Havlicek each chipped in with 11 points for the Celtics.
Game 5: Celtics 98-82
The series continues to see-saw through five games with the Celtics pulling within one win of a tournament championship. A well balanced offensive attack was key for Boston in game five as John Havlicek led the team in scoring with 20 points.
A dominating first half enabled the Celtics to cruise to a 16 point victory. With a 51-32 lead at halftime, the Celtics were able to keep the Warriors at arm’s length in the second half.
For the Warriors, the story was a similar one: Wilt Chamberlain and Stephen Curry handled the bulk of the scoring, both shooting over 50 percent, but the rest of Golden State struggled mightily shooting a combined 25 percent from the field.
*Photo via LOA
Game 6: Warriors 105-95
Facing elimination, the Warriors fought the Celtics tooth and nail to send the series to a seventh and deciding game. Down by two points at halftime, Golden State roared back in the second half and sent the series to it’s brink thanks to 28 points and 18 rebounds from Wilt Chamberlain to go along with a hand-bruising seven blocked shots. Nate Thurmond maintained his unsung status after chalking up another double, double (11 points, 10 rebounds) and Stephen Curry added 16 points, 11 assists, and six steals.
Game 7: Celtics 102-99
We’ve reached the end, my friends. Several weeks of roster unveilings, simulations, and what-if scenarios lead us here…to a game seven. Winner take all.
When this whole odyssey began, I predicted the Boston Celtics would prevail (it wasn’t a bold take by any stretch of the imagination) but I thought they would defeat the Los Angeles Lakers. As the tournament churned on, it became apparent that Golden State wasn’t just a dark horse spoiler, but a legit contender.
For the NBA fans who dream about how different eras would compete against each other, it was a dream to see Wilt Chamberlain take on Bill Walton, David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O’Neal, and Bill Russell round by round. The numbers told the story and just as we expected, Wilt was unstoppable.
But perhaps it’s appropriate that the upset minded Golden State Warriors came up one game short of being crowned champions at the hands of the Celtics. This entire tournament is fictitious and one man’s opinion. Sure, the games themselves were simulated on WhatifSports.com, but the rosters were subjective and certainly flawed. But through the flaws and subjective nature of the project as a whole, it makes sense that, in the end, Bill Russell stand at center court with his arms raised in victory while Wilt Chamberlain walks back to the locker room, one more time, just short of the goal, despite gaudy statistics.
Series MVP: Larry Bird
*Photo via NBA Passion
It was over when…: ..Larry Bird hit a jumper with 6:10 left in the fourth quarter. The Celtics went into the fourth quarter trailing by seven points but chipped away at the deficit during the first half of the quarter. The jumper by Bird gave Boston their first lead of the quarter, one that they wouldn’t relinquish.