basketball The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups  

Pedro Cerrano
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List Rules 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.
list ordered by

1
756 136
1984: Boston Celtics vs Los An... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

2
530 166
1987: Los Angeles Lakers vs Bo... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

3
524 244
1998: Chicago Bulls vs Utah Ja... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

4
369 157
1969: Boston Celtics vs Los An... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

5
443 231
1993: Chicago Bulls vs Phoenix... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

6
209 51
1991:Chicago Bulls Vs Los Ange... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

7
375 199
1997: Chicago Bulls vs Utah Ja... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

8
374 201
1980: Los Angeles Lakers vs Ph... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

9
305 183
1988: Los Angeles Lakers vs De... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

10
164 40
1985: Los Angeles Lakers Vs Bo... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

11
207 131
1992 Chicago Bulls vs Portland... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

12
225 190
1994: Houston Rockets vs New Y... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

13
180 63
2013: Miami Heat vs. San Anton... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

14
109 54
1986: Boston Celtics Vs Housto... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

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15
186 187
1970: New York Knicks vs Los A... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

16
93 60
1982: Los Angeles Lakers Vs Ph... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

17
209 215
2012:Miami Heat vs Oklahoma Ci... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

18
156 174
1976: Boston Celtics vs Phoeni... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

19
234 257
2011: Dallas Mavericks vs Miam... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

20
74 12
2016: Cavaliers Vs Warriors is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

21
154 220
2000: Los Angeles Lakers vs In... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

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22
46 88
1952: Minneapolis Lakers Vs. N... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

23
59 81
1959: Minneapolis Lakers Vs. B... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

24
48 80
1957: St. Louis Hawks Vs. Bost... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

25
43 85
1953: Minneapolis Lakers Vs. N... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

26
49 85
1958: St. Louis Hawks Vs. Bost... is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

27
34 66
1951: Rochester Royals Vs. New... is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

28
39 13
2016: Cavs Vs Warriors is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

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29
33 41
1947: Chicago Stags Vs. Philad... is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

30
23 51
1955: Syracuse Nationals Vs. F... is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

31
27 46
1948: Baltimore Bullets Vs. Ph... is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

32
22 53
1954: Minneapolis Lakers Vs. S... is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

33
23 50
1949: Minneapolis Lakers Vs. W... is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

34
23 49
1950: Minneapolis Lakers Vs. S... is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

35
24 15
2017: Golden State Warriors Vs... is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

36
21 48
1956: Fort Wayne Pistons Vs. P... is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

37
19 15
2015: Cavs Vs Warriors is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

38
17 8
2001 76ers Vs Lakers is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

39
12 12
2007: Cavs Vs Spurs is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups

40
7 13
2009: Los Angeles Lakers Vs Or... is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups