June 9, 1985: The Lakers defeat the Celtics

On June 9, 1985, the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics for the first time in their long rivalry in the NBA Finals. The two teams had previously met in the Finals eight times. The 1984 Finals was the first time Larry Bird and Magic Johnson faced off for the championship and the Lakers’ loss was still fresh in everyone’s minds. 

The 1985 team rosters were similarly stacked with superstars Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Magic Johnson on the Lakers and the Big 3 of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish as part of the Celtics. The Lakers were led by James Worthy 23.7 point average for the series and Magic scored 18.3 points per game to go along with 14.0 assists and 6.8 rebounds. The Lakers shot 51.2% as a team for the entire series.

Going into Game 6, the Celtics had a 63-19 record and the Finals homecourt advantage in Boston Garden. The Lakers had a 62-20 record. The 1985 championship was also the first time that the NBA held the Finals in a 2-3-2 format. Games 1,2 and 6 were held in Boston and Games 3, 4 and 5 were held in Los Angeles. The NBA kept this format until 2013 when they switched back to the 2-2-1-1-1 format.

The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Celtics four games to two and made NBA history when they won 111-100 in Game 6. This win marked the first time that the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics and it was the only time a visiting team beat the Celtics at Boston Garden in the Finals. The 1985 Finals was only the second championship defeat for the Celtics, their first loss was in the 1958 series to the St. Louis Hawks.

Even after the 1985 win, the Lakers-Celtics rivalry has continued to be one of the most contested in the NBA with the two teams meeting again in 1997 (Lakers), 2008 (Celtics), and 2010 (Lakers). Overall, the Celtics have won 17 championships and the Lakers have won 16, making them the two winningest teams in NBA Finals history.

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