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Top 5 NBA Finals in the past decade

Top 5 / Top 10
Modified 20 Dec 2019, 05:42 IST

It's that time of the year again when we begin the countdown to who gets crowned as the new NBA Champions. After fighting their way through their respective Conferences and making it to the Playoffs and eventually navigating into the Finals, the journey for the teams is indeed a long and arduous one.

We can hope to see yet another cracking contest between two well-matched sides this year too, as the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers get ready to fight it out for the Larry O’Brien trophy. 

Ahead of the upcoming 2015 NBA Finals, let’s countdown to the top 5 NBA finals in the past decade.

5. Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 2008

Lakers-Celtic rivalry over the years (from left: P. Pierce, L. Bird, B. Russell, K. Abdul-Jabbar, E. Johnson, K. Bryant)

You cannot have a conversation about NBA rivalries without talking about the Celtics and the Lakers. These legendary teams have appeared in the NBA finals against each other for more than ten series and account for a combined 33 of the 68 championships in NBA history. The quintessential example of healthy competition and mutual respect among legends was when Earvin “Magic” Johnson (Lakers) faced off against his college rival Larry Bird (Celtics) during the 1980’s. These hall of famers gave the NBA some of the finest seasons ever.

This rivalry was sparked up again in 2008 when the Celtics brought in Ray Allen and Kevin Garnet to help Paul Pierce form the big three. Bryant’s Lakers had acquired Pau Gasol halfway into the season. Additionally, two amazing head coaches were facing off. Both, Doc Rivers’ Celtics and Phil Jackson’s Lakers had won their respective conferences securing the top seeds in the regular season.

The Celtics ended up winning the Larry O’Brien trophy bringing a championship back to Boston after a 20-year draught. They won the series 4-2 with Paul Pierce winning the MVP award. The series proved that defense and team ball win championships since the Celtics were clearly a much better team on the floor. The Lakers defense was almost embarrassing.

Ray Allen blowing right past Sasha Vujacic for an easy clutch layup was a dagger that sealed the Celtic victory in game 4. They made sure all the twelve men on the team made a contribution whereas the Lakers tried to put on the Kobe show. Mr. Bryant failed as a leader on the court and the Lakers did not play team basketball. After a while, their strategy was “give the ball to #24 and watch him trying to score.” And that strategy may have got them to the finals; but wasn’t good enough to win a championship.

4) San Antonio Spurs vs. Detroit Pistons, 2005

Manu Ginobili driving against Tayshaun Prince during the 2005 finals

The battle of 2005 featured the #2 seeds from both conferences. The defending champions (Pistons) at the time consisted of game changers like Richard Hamilton, Chauncey Billups and Ben Wallace. They competed against Gregg Popovich’s Spurs. They had their consistent and strong (to the present day) stars; Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. Their number three man, Manu Ginobili turned out to be their trump card as he earned his place among his great team members during this series.


The Spurs won the series 4-3. This was the only finals series to go seven games in the first decade of this millennium. The reason this series earns the #4 spot on our countdown is due to the brilliant defense that was on display. The only time the scoreboard showed triple digits was in game 4 when the pistons won 102-71. So the Spurs won a championship series without scoring more than a 100 points. If that’s not amazing defense, I don’t know what is.   

3) Dallas Mavericks vs. Miami Heat, 2011

Dirk getting a layup amidst Heat's starters in the 2011 finals

Sometimes basketball is all about redemption. Nothing motivates a team to work together more than the chance to defeat a team who earned bragging rights over you in a previous finals game.

The Mavs lost to the Heat in the 2006 NBA finals which were the worst eight days in Mavericks history. They were up 2-0 in the series and up by 14 with less than seven minutes to go in game 3. No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit and the Mavericks were only inches from that advantage when they started experiencing their worst nightmare. Wade’s Heat brought them down in the last six minutes of the game and the Mavericks ended up losing the series.

They were accused of throwing away the series and there were allegations by the media and the public that the matches were fixed. To refer to a certain Indian movie scenario in which the defamed coach of a hockey team seeks redemption to fight for his pride and respect; Dirk’s Mavericks were determined to douse the Heat this time.

The Heat composed of newly acquired LeBron James and Chris Bosh to help Dwayne Wade form Miami’s big three. It was their first season together and veteran Wade and rookie James did put on a good show. However, it couldn’t match the passion the Mavericks and they ended up winning the Maverick’s first and only championship.

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Published 03 Jun 2015, 13:08 IST
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