The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups Sports Teams
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The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

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.

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.

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 for the series you like the most, re-rank the list as you see fit or add any we've missed 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.

  • 5 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 426
    - 77

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

    ) open
  2. 2
    + 297
    - 90

    most listed 1987: Los Angeles Lakers vs Boston Celtics

    ) open
  3. 3
    + 270
    - 133

    1998: Chicago Bulls vs Utah Jazz

    ) open
  4. 4
    + 247
    - 108

    1980: Los Angeles Lakers vs Boston Celtics

    ) open
  5. 5
    + 197
    - 90

    1969: Boston Celtics vs Los Angeles Lakers

    ) open
  6. 6
    + 227
    - 125

    1993: Chicago Bulls vs Phoenix Suns

    ) open
  7. 7
    + 197
    - 109

    1997: Chicago Bulls vs Utah Jazz

    ) open
  8. 8
    + 123
    - 111

    1994: Houston Rockets vs New York Knicks

    ) open
  9. 9
    + 86
    - 58

    added by Loko 1992 Chicago Bulls vs Portland Trailblazers

    ) open
  10. 10
    + 168
    - 124

    1988: Los Angeles Lakers vs Detroit Pistons

    ) open
  11. 11
    + 122
    - 113

    1970: New York Knicks vs Los Angeles Lakers

    ) open
  12. 12
    + 106
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks 1976: Boston Celtics vs Phoenix Suns

    ) open
  13. 13
    + 27
    - 1

    1985: Los Angeles Lakers Vs Boston Celtics

    ) open
  14. 14
    + 25
    - 1

    ranked low on reranks & added by birdiejay23 1980: Los Angeles Lakers Vs Philadelphia 76ers

    ) open
  15. 15
    + 14
    - 22

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

    ) open
  16. 16
    + 32
    - 2

    ranked low on reranks 1991:Chicago Bulls Vs Los Angeles Lakers

    ) open
  17. 17
    + 11
    - 24

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

    ) open
  18. 18
    + 108
    - 127

    added by MrTeamOnMyBack 2012:Miami Heat vs Oklahoma City Thunder

    ) open
  19. 19
    + 144
    - 174

    2011: Dallas Mavericks vs Miami Heat

    ) open
  20. 20
    + 25
    - 2

    1982: Los Angeles Lakers Vs Philadelphia 76ers

    ) open
  21. 21
    + 16
    - 29

    added by DrewStiling 1959: Minneapolis Lakers Vs. Boston Celtics

    ) open
  22. 22
    + 8
    - 20

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

    ) open
  23. 23
    + 11
    - 30

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

    ) open
  24. 24
    + 9
    - 27

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

    ) open
  25. 25
    + 91
    - 156

    2000: Los Angeles Lakers vs Indiana Pacers

    ) open
  26. 26
    + 22
    - 3

    1986: Boston Celtics Vs Houston Rockets

    ) open
  27. 27
    + 1
    - 0

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

    ) open
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