1986 Championship Series-Celtics and Rockets

The Boston Celtics 67-15 coached by K. C. Jones and with general manager Jan Volk faced the Houston Rockets 61-31 coached by Bill Fitch, who had coached the Celtics to the NBA title in 1981, with general manager Ray Patterson.

The Celtics wereled by Larry Bird 25.8 points per game, 9.8 rebounds per game and 6.8 assists per game, Kevin McHale 21.3 ppg, Dennis Johnson 15.6 ppg, 5.8 apg, Robert Parish 16.1 ppg, 9.5 rpg and DannyAinge 10.7 ppg and 5.1 apg.

But the big addition was Bill Walton who averaged 6.8 rpg and 1.3 blocks per game in a substitute role and shored up the Celtic defense. He was a former league and finals MVP with the Portland Trailblazers in 1977.

Houston featured Hakeem Olajuwon 23.5 ppg, 11.5 rpg, Ralph Sampson 18.9 ppg, 11.1 rpg, John Lucas 15.5 ppg, 8.8 apg, Rodney McCray 10.3 ppg, Luis Lloyd 16.9 ppg and Robert Reid 12.0 ppg.

Game one took place in the Boston Gardens with the game being close in the first half before the Celtics pulled away with a 30-17 run in the third quarter to win 112-100. Olajuwon led the Rockets with 33 points, 12 rebounds and 3 blocked shots while Rodney McCray added 20 points.

Robert Parish led the Celtics in scoring with 23 while Larry Bird had 21 points and 13 assists, Kevin McHale 21 points and Dennis Johnson who had 19 points and 11 rebounds.

Game two was still in Boston and after a close first quarter which Boston led 31-30, the Celts pulled away in the second and third quarters for a 117-95 win. They were led by Larry Bird with 31 points andKevin McHale with 25. Bill Walton had six rebounds and a blocked shot in only fifteen minutes of play.Hakeem Olajuwon led Houston with 21 points and 10 rebounds and the series shifts to the Summit in Houston with Boston leading two games to none.

In game three the Celtics led 84-80 after three quarters but the Rockets had a strongfourth quarter to win 106-104 behind a 22 point, 24 rebound effort by Ralph Sampson while Olajuwon added 23 points and Robert Reid 20.

For Boston Larry Bird had a triple double with 25 points, 11 assists and 15 rebounds, Kevin McHale added 25 points and 11 rebounds and Dennis Johnson had 20 points as Houston got their first win to get within one game of the Celtics at two games to one.

Game four in Houston was closely contested but the Celtics ended up winning 106-103 behind Dennis Johnson’s 22 points, Larry Bird’s 21 points and 10 assists and Robert Pariah’s 22 points and 10 rebounds.

For Houston Ralph Sampson led with 25 points and Olajuwon added 20 points and 14 rebounds with the Celtics ahead in the series 3 games to 1.

The Rockets rallied in game five with a strong second and third quarters for a 111-106 win to be within one game of the Celtics at three games to two. Olajuwon led the Rockets with 32 points and 14 rebounds and Kevin McHale led Boston with 33 points and the series goes back to Boston for game six.

The Rockets could not get on track with their scoring and no player scored 20 points or more with the Celtics winning the game 114-97 and the series. Larry Bird led Boston with 29 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds while Kevin McHale contributed 29 points and 10 rebounds.

Larry Bird got the finals MVP and Boston would be back the next year against the Lakers while Houston returned in 1994 to win a championship against the New York Knicks with Olajuwon getting the series MVP. In addition to Olajuwon, Bird and Walton, Dennis Johnson won the finals MVP in 1977 playing for the Seattle Supersonics making it four players from the two teams who had won or would win championship series MVP’s.


By Ron Griffitts

Contributing Columnist

Ron Griffitts a contributing columnist for the Daily Advocate