The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups Sports Teams
Ultimate List
5  reranks 6,201 votes 1,316 voters 24,788 views more info

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.
List is ranked by a combination of each item's votes & positioning in reranks
  • 5 ReRanks
    • Region
  • See list ranked by
</> Rerank List
Score
  1. 1
    Up 414
    Down 74

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

    100
  2. 2
    Up 284
    Down 88

    most listed
    1987: Los Angeles Lakers vs Boston Celtics

    92
  3. 3
    Up 258
    Down 129

    1998: Chicago Bulls vs Utah Jazz

    78
  4. 4
    Up 240
    Down 104

    1980: Los Angeles Lakers vs Boston Celtics

    76
  5. 5
    Up 193
    Down 87

    1969: Boston Celtics vs Los Angeles Lakers

    76
  6. 6
    Up 218
    Down 122

    1993: Chicago Bulls vs Phoenix Suns

    75
  7. 7
    Up 190
    Down 104

    1997: Chicago Bulls vs Utah Jazz

    74
  8. 8
    Up 119
    Down 106

    1994: Houston Rockets vs New York Knicks

    70
  9. 9
    Up 80
    Down 53

    1992 Chicago Bulls vs Portland Trailblazers

    64
    added by: Loko
  10. 10
    Up 160
    Down 123

    1988: Los Angeles Lakers vs Detroit Pistons

    63
  11. 11
    Up 117
    Down 111

    1970: New York Knicks vs Los Angeles Lakers

    60
  12. 12
    Up 103
    Down 105

    1976: Boston Celtics vs Phoenix Suns

    57
  13. 13
    Up 12
    Down 19

    1952: Minneapolis Lakers Vs. New York Knicks

    53
    added by: DrewStiling
  14. 14
    Up 107
    Down 122

    2012:Miami Heat vs Oklahoma City Thunder

    52
    added by: MrTeamOnMyBack
  15. 15
    Up 10
    Down 20

    1953: Minneapolis Lakers Vs. New York Knicks

    51
    added by: DrewStiling
  16. 16
    Up 140
    Down 170

    2011: Dallas Mavericks vs Miami Heat

    51
  17. 17
    Up 15
    Down 25

    1959: Minneapolis Lakers Vs. Boston Celtics

    47
    added by: DrewStiling
  18. 18
    Up 24
    Down 0

    1991:Chicago Bulls Vs Los Angeles Lakers

    45
  19. 19
    Up 7
    Down 16

    often listed
    1951: Rochester Royals Vs. New York Knicks

    44
    added by: DrewStiling
  20. 20
    Up 21
    Down 0

    new! 1985: Los Angeles Lakers Vs Boston Celtics

    44
  21. 21
    Up 11
    Down 26

    often listed
    1958: St. Louis Hawks Vs. Boston Celtics

    44
    added by: DrewStiling
  22. 22
    Up 22
    Down 0

    1982: Los Angeles Lakers Vs Philadelphia 76ers

    44
  23. 23
    Up 89
    Down 153

    often listed
    2000: Los Angeles Lakers vs Indiana Pacers

    44
  24. 24
    Up 9
    Down 23

    often listed
    1957: St. Louis Hawks Vs. Boston Celtics

    44
    added by: DrewStiling
  25. 25
    Up 20
    Down 0

    1980: Los Angeles Lakers Vs Philadelphia 76ers

    44
    added by: birdiejay23
  26. 26
    Up 19
    Down 0

    1986: Boston Celtics Vs Houston Rockets

    43
  27. 27 +

    Something missing? Add it!

Is this list missing something?
RANKERS WHO ADDED ITEMS

items 1 - 26 of 26

think you can do better?

Rerank This List
why?

got a blog or website?

embed this list
why?

viewers of this list also saw

more popular lists