The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

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List Criteria: Only NBA Finals series, not other playoff rounds

The best NBA Finals series match-ups are the most memorable and iconic NBA Championship series in the history of the league. From the series that reignited fierce rivalries to those which pitted the best basketball players of all time against one another, these NBA Finals series stand out as some of the best ever. And this, of course, is a list of the best NBA Finals matchups of all time.

If it appears that two teams appear far more frequently than others on this list, that's because the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics have appeared in the NBA Finals far more than all other teams with a combined 52 appearances in the 63 seasons between 1950 and 2012. The rivalry has been fueled numerous times but was at its height in the 1980s. Between 1980 and 1989 one or both of those teams played in the finals each season with the likes of Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar battling it out on the court.

As the years passed, it was the Chicago Bulls who would next dominate the league, much from the help of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Phil Jackson. Especially memorable was the 1993 NBA Finals which saw Jordan and company defeat the Phoenix Suns led by Charles Barkley. Chicago would go on to win three more titles, for a total of six in eight years in the 1990s, while Barkley would play out the rest of his days without a championship ring. The NBA Finals matchups history can be cruel, depending on just which side you're on.

Whether the best NBA Finals series match-ups are between rival teams, feature Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame players or are the ones yet to be played, each tells the story of one team who emerged victorious and another who went home disappointed. Which NBA Finals match-up do you think is the best? Vote up the series you like the most, re-rank the list as you see fit, and add any we've missed to the NBA championship list below.

Check out more lists like the most hilarious internet reactions to the NBA finals, the best NBA players of all time, or check out the fittest cheerleaders of the NBA finals.


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  • 7 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 477
    - 88

    the people's #1
    1984: Boston Celtics vs Los Angeles Lakers

  2. 2
    + 329
    - 105

    most listed
    1987: Los Angeles Lakers vs Boston Celtics

  3. 3
    + 315
    - 147


    1998: Chicago Bulls vs Utah Jazz

  4. 4
    + 271
    - 127

    added by birdiejay23
    1980: Los Angeles Lakers Vs Philadelphia 76ers

  5. 5
    + 225
    - 102


    1969: Boston Celtics vs Los Angeles Lakers

  6. 6
    + 231
    - 117


    1997: Chicago Bulls vs Utah Jazz

  7. 7
    + 258
    - 142


    1993: Chicago Bulls vs Phoenix Suns

  8. 8
    + 190
    - 132


    1988: Los Angeles Lakers vs Detroit Pistons

  9. 9
    + 107
    - 66

    added by Loko
    1992 Chicago Bulls vs Portland Trailblazers

  10. 10
    + 135
    - 126


    1994: Houston Rockets vs New York Knicks

  11. 11
    + 51
    - 7


    1985: Los Angeles Lakers Vs Boston Celtics

  12. 12
    + 54
    - 10


    1991:Chicago Bulls Vs Los Angeles Lakers

  13. 13
    + 132
    - 124


    1970: New York Knicks vs Los Angeles Lakers

  14. 14
    + 35
    - 9


    1982: Los Angeles Lakers Vs Philadelphia 76ers

  15. 15
    + 111
    - 118


    1976: Boston Celtics vs Phoenix Suns

  16. 16
    + 31
    - 10


    1986: Boston Celtics Vs Houston Rockets

  17. 17
    + 31
    - 12

    added by Paul Nyhart
    2013: Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs

  18. 18
    + 128
    - 143

    added by MrTeamOnMyBack
    2012:Miami Heat vs Oklahoma City Thunder

  19. 19
    + 157
    - 191


    2011: Dallas Mavericks vs Miami Heat

  20. 20
    + 16
    - 33

    added by DrewStiling
    1952: Minneapolis Lakers Vs. New York Knicks

  21. 21
    + 22
    - 38

    added by DrewStiling
    1959: Minneapolis Lakers Vs. Boston Celtics

  22. 22
    + 17
    - 34

    added by DrewStiling
    1957: St. Louis Hawks Vs. Boston Celtics

  23. 23
    + 15
    - 36

    added by DrewStiling
    1953: Minneapolis Lakers Vs. New York Knicks

  24. 24
    + 18
    - 37

    added by DrewStiling
    1958: St. Louis Hawks Vs. Boston Celtics

  25. 25
    + 100
    - 165


    2000: Los Angeles Lakers vs Indiana Pacers

  26. 26
    + 11
    - 30

    added by DrewStiling
    1951: Rochester Royals Vs. New York Knicks

  27. 27
    + 7
    - 10

    added by DrewStiling
    1948: Baltimore Bullets Vs. Philaelphia Warriors

  28. 28
    + 5
    - 8

    added by DrewStiling
    1947: Chicago Stags Vs. Philadelphia Warriors

  29. 29
    + 6
    - 9

    added by DrewStiling
    1956: Fort Wayne Pistons Vs. Philadelphia Warriors

  30. 30
    + 6
    - 13

    added by DrewStiling
    1955: Syracuse Nationals Vs. Fort Wayne Pistons

  31. 31
    + 4
    - 12

    added by DrewStiling
    1950: Minneapolis Lakers Vs. Syracuse Nationals

  32. 32
    + 4
    - 13

    added by DrewStiling
    1949: Minneapolis Lakers Vs. Washington Capitols

  33. 33
    + 3
    - 14

    added by DrewStiling
    1954: Minneapolis Lakers Vs. Syracuse Nationals

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