1986 NBA Playoffs

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The 1986 NBA Playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 1985–86 season. The tournament concluded with the Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics defeating the Western Conference champion Houston Rockets 4 games to 2 in the NBA Finals. Larry Bird was named NBA Finals MVP for the second time.

This was the second NBA Finals meeting between the Celtics and Rockets; they met in the 1981 NBA Finals with the same result. It was the third of four straight Eastern Conference championships for Boston, who won 67 games that year, and went 40–1 at home. The Rockets, meanwhile had won just their second conference title in franchise history.

Second-year player Michael Jordan put on a record-setting performance in Game 2 of the Bulls' first-round series against the Celtics, scoring 63 points in an 2-OT loss, which surpassed Elgin Baylor's 61-point performance from the 1962 NBA Finals and still stands as the NBA Playoff scoring record. Jordan averaged 43.7 points per game in the series, but was unable to prevent the Bulls from being swept by a more experienced, more talented Celtics team. The Bulls set a dubious mark by posting the second worst record for a playoff-qualifying team in history, going just 30–52 during the season. Game 2, where the record was set, was ranked by TV Guide as the 26th Most Memorable Moment in Television History,[citation needed] and is credited with boosting the NBA's popularity surge and eventual rise to near the top of the United States television sports market,[citation needed] trailing only football by the mid-90s.[citation needed]

The 1986 playoffs marked the third time in four years that the Milwaukee Bucks advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals, but it would be their last appearance in the series until 2001. The Celtics avenged their 1983 sweep by sweeping the Bucks in four games.

As for the Philadelphia 76ers, this was the last time they would play in a Game 7 until 2001. After their first round loss to the Atlanta Hawks, the Detroit Pistons would advance past the first round in each of the next five seasons (1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991), which include all appearances in the conference finals, three NBA Finals, and two championships.

Bracket[edit]

First Round Conference Semifinals Conference Finals NBA Finals
                       
1 Los Angeles Lakers 3
8 San Antonio Spurs 0
1 L.A. Lakers 4
4 Dallas 2
4 Dallas Mavericks 3
5 Utah Jazz 1
1 L.A. Lakers 1
Western Conference
2 Houston 4
3 Denver Nuggets 3
6 Portland Trail Blazers 1
3 Denver 2
2 Houston 4
2 Houston Rockets 3
7 Sacramento Kings 0
W2 Houston 2
E1 Boston 4
1 Boston Celtics 3
8 Chicago Bulls 0
1 Boston 4
4 Atlanta 1
4 Atlanta Hawks 3
5 Detroit Pistons 1
1 Boston 4
Eastern Conference
2 Milwaukee 0
3 Philadelphia 76ers 3
6 Washington Bullets 2
3 Philadelphia 3
2 Milwaukee 4
2 Milwaukee Bucks 3
7 New Jersey Nets 0

Western Conference[edit]

Champion: Houston Rockets

1st Round

(1) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (8) San Antonio Spurs: Lakers win series 3–0

  • Game 1 @ The Forum, Los Angeles (April 17): Los Angeles 135, San Antonio 88
  • Game 2 @ The Forum, Los Angeles (April 19): Los Angeles 122, San Antonio 94
  • Game 3 @ HemisFair Arena, San Antonio (April 23): Los Angeles 114, San Antonio 94

Last Playoff Meeting: 1983 Western Conference Finals (Los Angeles won 4–2)

(2) Houston Rockets vs. (7) Sacramento Kings:Rockets win series 3–0

  • Game 1 @ The Summit, Houston (April 17): Houston 107, Sacramento 87
  • Game 2 @ The Summit, Houston (April 19): Houston 111, Sacramento 103
  • Game 3 @ ARCO Arena I, Sacramento (April 22): Houston 113, Sacramento 98

Last Playoff Meeting: 1981 Western Conference Finals (Houston won 4–1; Kings were in Kansas City, Missouri)

(3) Denver Nuggets vs. (6) Portland Trail Blazers: Nuggets win series 3–1

Last Playoff Meeting: 1977 Western Conference Semifinals (Portland won 4–2)

(4) Dallas Mavericks vs. (5) Utah Jazz: Mavericks win series 3–1

  • Game 1 @ Reunion Arena, Dallas (April 18): Dallas 101, Utah 93
  • Game 2 @ Reunion Arena, Dallas (April 20): Dallas 113, Utah 106
  • Game 3 @ Salt Palace, Salt Lake City (April 23): Utah 100, Dallas 98
  • Game 4 @ Salt Palace, Salt Lake City (April 25): Dallas 117, Utah 113

Last Playoff Meeting: This is the first meeting between the Mavericks and Jazz.

Conference Semifinals

(1) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (4) Dallas Mavericks: Lakers win series 4–2

  • Game 1 @ The Forum, Los Angeles (April 27): Los Angeles 130, Dallas 116
  • Game 2 @ The Forum, Los Angeles (April 30): Los Angeles 117, Dallas 113
  • Game 3 @ Reunion Arena, Dallas (May 2): Dallas 110, Los Angeles 108 (Derek Harper avenged his 1984 mistake by hitting the game-winning 3)
  • Game 4 @ Reunion Arena, Dallas (May 4): Dallas 120, Los Angeles 118
  • Game 5 @ The Forum, Los Angeles (May 6): Los Angeles 116, Dallas 113
  • Game 6 @ Reunion Arena, Dallas (May 8): Los Angeles 120, Dallas 107

Last Playoff Meeting: 1984 Western Conference Semifinals (Los Angeles won 4–1)

(2) Houston Rockets vs. (3) Denver Nuggets: Rockets win series 4–2

Last Playoff Meeting: This is the first meeting between the Rockets and Nuggets.

Conference Finals

(1) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (2) Houston Rockets: Rockets win series 4–1

  • Game 1 @ The Forum, Los Angeles (May 10): Los Angeles 119, Houston 107
  • Game 2 @ The Forum, Los Angeles (May 13): Houston 112, Los Angeles 102
  • Game 3 @ The Summit, Houston (May 16): Houston 117, Los Angeles 109
  • Game 4 @ The Summit, Houston (May 18): Houston 105, Los Angeles 95
  • Game 5 @ The Forum, Los Angeles (May 21): Houston 114, Los Angeles 112 (Ralph Sampson hits the famous off-balanced series winner at the buzzer; Hakeem Olajuwon was ejected in the fourth quarter for fighting Lakers forward Mitch Kupchak)

Last Playoff Meeting: 1981 Western Conference First Round (Houston won 2–1)

Eastern Conference[edit]

Champion: Boston Celtics

1st Round

(1) Boston Celtics vs. (8) Chicago Bulls: Celtics win series 3–0

Last Playoff Meeting: 1981 Eastern Conference Semifinals (Boston won 4–0)

(2) Milwaukee Bucks vs. (7) New Jersey Nets: Bucks win series 3–0

  • Game 1 @ The MECCA, Milwaukee (April 18): Milwaukee 119, New Jersey 107
  • Game 2 @ The MECCA, Milwaukee (April 20): Milwaukee 111, New Jersey 97
  • Game 3 @ Brendan Byrne Arena, East Rutherford (April 22): Milwaukee 118, New Jersey 113

Last Playoff Meeting: 1984 Eastern Conference Semifinals (Milwaukee won 4–2)

(3) Philadelphia 76ers vs. (6) Washington Bullets: 76ers win series 3–2

  • Game 1 @ The Spectrum, Philadelphia (April 18): Washington 95, Philadelphia 94 (Dudley Bradley hits the game-winning 3 capping off a rally from 17 points down)
  • Game 2 @ The Spectrum, Philadelphia (April 20): Philadelphia 102, Washington 97
  • Game 3 @ Capital Centre, Landover (April 22): Philadelphia 91, Washington 86
  • Game 4 @ Capital Centre, Landover (April 24): Washington 116, Philadelphia 111
  • Game 5 @ The Spectrum, Philadelphia (April 27): Philadelphia 134, Washington 109

Last Playoff Meeting: 1985 Eastern Conference First Round (Philadelphia won 3–1)

(4) Atlanta Hawks vs. (5) Detroit Pistons: Hawks win series 3–1

  • Game 1 @ The Omni, Atlanta (April 17): Atlanta 140, Detroit 122
  • Game 2 @ The Omni, Atlanta (April 19): Atlanta 137, Detroit 125
  • Game 3 @ Pontiac Silverdome, Pontiac (April 22): Detroit 106, Atlanta 97
  • Game 4 @ Pontiac Silverdome, Pontiac (April 25): Atlanta 114, Detroit 113 (2OT)

Last Playoff Meeting: 1963 Western Division Semifinals (Hawks won 3–1; they were in St. Louis, Missouri)

Conference Semifinals

(1) Boston Celtics vs. (4) Atlanta Hawks: Celtics win series 4–1

  • Game 1 @ Boston Garden, Boston (April 27): Boston 103, Atlanta 91
  • Game 2 @ Boston Garden, Boston (April 29): Boston 119, Atlanta 98
  • Game 3 @ The Omni, Atlanta (May 2): Boston 111 , Atlanta 107
  • Game 4 @ The Omni, Atlanta (May 4): Atlanta 106, Boston 94
  • Game 5 @ Boston Garden, Boston (May 6): Boston 132, Atlanta 99

Last Playoff Meeting: 1983 Eastern Conference First Round (Boston won 2–1)

(2) Milwaukee Bucks vs. (3) Philadelphia 76ers: Bucks win series 4–3

  • Game 1 @ The MECCA, Milwaukee (April 29): Philadelphia 118, Milwaukee 112
  • Game 2 @ The MECCA, Milwaukee (May 1): Milwaukee 119, Philadelphia 107
  • Game 3 @ The Spectrum, Philadelphia (May 3): Philadelphia 107, Milwaukee 103
  • Game 4 @ The Spectrum, Philadelphia (May 5): Milwaukee 109, Philadelphia 104
  • Game 5 @ The MECCA, Milwaukee (May 7): Milwaukee 113, Philadelphia 108
  • Game 6 @ The Spectrum, Philadelphia (May 9): Philadelphia 126, Milwaukee 108
  • Game 7 @ The MECCA, Milwaukee (May 11): Milwaukee 113, Philadelphia 112

Last Playoff Meeting: 1985 Eastern Conference Semifinals (Philadelphia won 4–0)

Conference Finals

(1) Boston Celtics vs. (2) Milwaukee Bucks: Celtics win series 4–0

  • Game 1 @ Boston Garden, Boston (May 13): Boston 128, Milwaukee 96
  • Game 2 @ Boston Garden, Boston (May 15): Boston 122, Milwaukee 111
  • Game 3 @ The MECCA, Milwaukee (May 17): Boston 111, Milwaukee 107
  • Game 4 @ The MECCA, Milwaukee (May 18): Boston 111, Milwaukee 98

Last Playoff Meeting: 1984 Eastern Conference Finals (Boston won 4–1)

NBA Finals[edit]

Main article: 1986 NBA Finals

(1) Boston Celtics vs. (2) Houston Rockets: Celtics win series 4–2

  • Game 1 @ Boston Garden, Boston (May 26): Boston 112, Houston 100
  • Game 2 @ Boston Garden, Boston (May 29): Boston 117, Houston 95
  • Game 3 @ The Summit, Houston (June 1): Houston 106, Boston 104
  • Game 4 @ The Summit, Houston (June 3): Boston 106, Houston 103
  • Game 5 @ The Summit, Houston (June 5): Houston 111, Boston 96
  • Game 6 @ Boston Garden, Boston (June 8): Boston 114, Houston 97

Last Playoff Meeting: 1981 NBA Finals (Boston won 4–2)

External links[edit]