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The NBA Rivalries That Have Met More Than Twice In The Finals
The Los Angeles Lakers being a part of every entry on this list is astounding
by John Paulo Aguilera | May 30, 2018
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These two teams aren't the only NBA rivals to have faced each other multiple times in the Finals, but the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers will be the first to do it in four consecutive years.

We all know how the story goes: in 2015, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and co. overwhelmed a LeBron James-led squad without Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving (4-2), before the latter made history the next season and evened the score with the city's first-ever championship (4-3). Kevin Durant then joined forces with the Dubs and the rest was utter dominance (4-1). Now, the series has somewhat gone full circle—plus Durant and minus Irving.

Will LeBron finally end the GOAT debate with another ring, or will the Warriors validate their dynasty with their third title in four years?

CLE vs GSW Part 4 brings to mind the most storied matchups in NBA history and how each of them has shaped the league into what it is today.


New York Knicks vs Los Angeles Lakers (2-1)

1970 (New York Knicks, 4–3), 1972 (Los Angeles Lakers, 4–1), 1973 (New York Knicks, 4–1)

Key figures: Willis Reed vs Wilt Chamberlain; Walt Frazier vs Jerry West

Long before the Knicks was reduced to a team that isn't taken seriously, Madison Square Garden was truly the Mecca of basketball. New York and Los Angeles aren't just home to the most expensive teams, the two cities were also main players in a power struggle during the early '70s. Aside from the man with the most NBA championships, Reed was one of the few big men who denied Chamberlain more than two titles.

Los Angeles Lakers vs Philadelphia 76ers (3-1)

1980 (Los Angeles Lakers, 4–2), 1982 (Los Angeles Lakers 4–2), 1983 (Philadelphia 76ers, 4–0), 2001 (Los Angeles Lakers, 4–1)

Key figures: Moses Malone, Julius Erving vs Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; Allen Iverson vs Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant

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If not for Malone carrying Houston then signing with Philadelphia and the debut of the original Boston "Big Three" in 1981, the Lakers and Sixers would've competed for the fourth straight time. It wasn't until Big Mo helped Dr. J get over the hump ("fo, fo, fo") for their lone ring. The rivalry was rekindled almost two decades after, when, like Erving failed against Magic and Kareem, Iverson fell to another legendary duo: Kobe and Shaq.

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Detroit Pistons vs Los Angeles Lakers (2-1)

1988 (Los Angeles Lakers, 4–3), 1989 (Detroit Pistons, 4–0), 2004 (Detroit Pistons, 4–1)

Key figures: Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer vs Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; Ben Wallace, Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace vs Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Gary Payton, Karl Malone

Los Angeles being part of every entry on this list says a lot about how competitive the franchise has been, even if the team is rarely on the winning side. Both versions of the Detroit Bad Boys ushered in two dynasties: the '90s Chicago Bulls and '00s Lakers. Despite the roster turnover, each DET-LAL series had pretty much the same theme: a ragtag Pistons squad pulling off an unlikely upset over a loaded LA lineup.

Boston Celtics vs Los Angeles Lakers (9-3)

1959 (Boston Celtics, 4–0), 1962 (Boston Celtics, 4–3) 1963 (Boston Celtics, 4–2) 1965 (Boston Celtics, 4–1), 1966 (Boston Celtics, 4–3) 1968 (Boston Celtics, 4–2) 1969 (Boston Celtics, 4–3), 1984 (Boston Celtics, 4–3), 1985 (Los Angeles Lakers, 4–2), 1987 (Los Angeles Lakers, 4–2), 2008 (Boston Celtics, 4–2) 2010 (Los Angeles Lakers, 4–3)

Key figures: Bill Russell vs Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird vs Magic Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen vs Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol

It's no surprise that the two most decorated teams in the league only have a single-championship difference between them (Boston's 17 to Los Angeles' 16). Although the same can't be said about their head-to-head record, where the Celtics tower above the Lakers. From Russell-Chamberlain to Bird-Johnson, the rivalry has transcended basketball generations and defined the legacies of every player involved.

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