In one of their final home games, Knicks forward Bernard King, who finished the year as the scoring champion, ruptured his ACL in his right knee and was out of action for two years. King would come back in 1987, but would not return to the All-Star Game until 1991.
At age 38, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar became the oldest player to win the honor of Finals MVP. Jabbar's team, the Lakers, became the first visiting team to win the NBA title at Boston Garden, beating their archrivals, the Boston Celtics, in six games.
The Finals adopted the 2-3-2 format which was used through the 2013 NBA Finals after which the league returned to the 2–2–1–1–1 format.
The Cleveland Cavaliers returned to the playoffs after a seven-year absence. They were eliminated by the Celtics in four games. They would not make the playoffs again until 1988. The Cavaliers were coached by George Karl, then making his NBA coaching debut.
The Denver Nuggets made the conference finals for the first time since 1978, losing 4-1 to the Lakers. They would not make the conference finals again until 2009, which they lost to the Lakers again. The series marked the end of Dan Issel's playing career, having played 15 professional seasons and averaging 22.6 points and 9.1 rebounds in his career.
Teams in bold advanced to the next round. The numbers to the left of each team indicate the team's seeding in its conference, and the numbers to the right indicate the number of games the team won in that round. The division champions are marked by an asterisk. Home court advantage does not necessarily belong to the higher-seeded team, but instead the team with the better regular season record; teams enjoying the home advantage are shown in italics.
A ticket for Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals between the Lakers and the Trail Blazers.