Champions: 1983 Philadelphia 76ers
Dominated NBA Playoffs
Expectations were high the moment Julius Erving joined the 76ers for the 1977 season, Things looked promising when, in his first year, Dr. J lead the Sixers to a 2-0 lead against the Portland Trailblazers in the NBA Finals only to have Bill Walton and crew storm back and win 4-2.
A championship would continue to elude Philadelphia’s faithful fans. The Sixers would reach the finals again in 1980 and 1982 before losing to the Lakers led by Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Magic Johnson. Twice they lost in the Conference Finals to their division rivals who went on to win the Championship. First to Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld’s Bullets in 1979 and then to Larry Bird’s Celtics in 1981 after leading the series 3-1.
In 1983, the Sixers added the missing ingredient – Moses Malone – who, along with Dr. J and Andrew Toney, led the team to a league best 65-17 record (second best in franchise history and seventh best in NBA history at that time) while also claiming the MVP award for the second year in a row.
Heading into the Finals, Malone was asked for his prediction and responded with the classic “Fo’, fo’ fo’.” Philadelphia came close to living up to Malone’s prediction of an unblemished playoff record, sweeping New York, beating Milwaukee 4-1 and then sweeping a Los Angeles Lakers team weakened by injuries to Norm Nixon and Bob McAdoo in the NBA Finals. Philadelphia’s 12-1 playoff record is the best in NBA history, and an amended version of Malone’s prediction was engraved on the players’ championship rings: “Fo’, five, fo’.”
Malone averaged 31.3 points in 15.5 rebounds as the Sixers swept the Bernard King-led New York Knicks in a hard fought series in which no game was won by double-digits.
They then faced a great Milwaukee Bucks team that had just swept the Boston Celtics. The Bucks won Game 4 to avoid a sweep, but the Sixers rebounded in Game 5 (led by Andrew Toney’s 30 points) to win 115-103. It was their first double-digit win of the playoffs.
In the finals, Malone out-dueled Kareem Abdul-Jabbar averaging 25.8 points and 18 rebounds as the Sixers swept the Lakers to avenge their loss the year before.
|1||New York Knicks||W||112||102|
|2||New York Knicks||W||98||91|
|3||@||New York Knicks||W||107||105|
|4||@||New York Knicks||W||105||102|
|10||Los Angeles Lakers||W||113||107|
|11||Los Angeles Lakers||W||103||93|
|12||@||Los Angeles Lakers||W||111||94|
|13||@||Los Angeles Lakers||W||115||108|
The 2001 Los Angeles Lakers would match the Sixers’ playoff dominance with their 15-1 run, the culmination of which was a 4-1 series victory over Philadelphia in their only return to the NBA Finals since 1983.