The 1966 NBA Championship Series — Lakers and Celtics


By Ron Griffitts

Contributing columnist

In spring 1966, the Boston Celtics (54-26) coached by Red Auerbach, who was also their executive, faced the Los Angeles Lakers (45-35) coached by Fred Schaus and with Lou Mohs as their executive.

The Celtics had defeated the Cincinnati Royals 3-2 and the Philadelphia 76ers 4-1 to get to the finals. They were led by Bill Russell (12.9 ppg, 22.8 rpg, 4.8 apg), K. C. Jones (6.3 apg), Sam Jones (23.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg), John Havlicek (18.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg), Tom Saunders (12.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg), Larry Siegfried (13.7ppg,), Don Nelson (10.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg), Willie Naulls (10.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg) and Mel Counts (6.4 rpg).

The Lakers were led by Jerry West (31.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 6.1 apg), Rudy LaRusso (15.4 ppg, 8.7 rpg), Elgin Baylor (16.6 ppg, 9.6 rpg), Leroy Ellis (12.2 ppg, 9.2 rpg), Walt Hazzard (13.7 ppg, 4.9 apg), Bob Boozer (12.2 ppg, 7.0 rpg), Gene Wiley (7.3 rpg) and Darrall Imhoff (6.6 rpg).

Game one was in the Boston Garden and as the two teams were tied after regulation, set the tone for the entire series as it was a close series. LA outscored the Celtics 12-6 in overtime for a 133-129 win helped by 41 points from Jerry West, 36 points and 20 rebounds from Elgin Baylor and 20 points from Gail Goodrich.

Boston was led by Bill Russell with 26 points and 28 rebounds, and John Havlicek with 21 points.

In game two, the Celtics tied the series at one game each with a 129-109 victory as the Lakers made only 38.1% of their field goal attempts. Bill Russell pulled down 24 rebounds and scored 19 points, Sam Jones had 23 points and 11 rebounds, John Havlicek contributed 21 points and Larry Siegfried added 20.

For game three, the teams switched to the Los Angeles Sports Arena in Los Angeles and the Celtics continued their momentum with a 120-106 win led by 36 points from Sam Jones, 21 from John Havlicek, 22 from Tom Saunders and 19 rebounds from Bill Russell.

Jerry West contributed 34 points and Elgin Baylor 15 rebounds for the Lakers as the Celts took a 2-1 series lead.

Boston made it three wins in a row with a 122-117 victory in game four led by 32 points by John Havlicek, 25 rebounds from Bill Russell and 20 points from Sam Jones.

Jerry West had 45 points for the Lakers while Elgin Baylor had 24 and Leroy Ellis had 21.

Back in Boston, the Lakers rallied in game six behind a 41 point, 16 rebound effort from Elgin Baylor for a 121-117 win to pull within one game of the Celtics at 3 games to 2. Jerry West had 31 points and Leroy Ellis had 17 rebounds and 15 points for LA while Bill Russell led Boston with 32 points and 28 rebounds and John Havlicek had 25 points and 10 rebounds.

The Lakers continued their success with a 123-115 win in game six to tie the series at 3-3. Balanced scoring from Jerry West with 32 points, Elgin Baylor with 25, Gail Goodrich with 28 and Rudy LaRusso with 20 led the Lakers.

Bill Russell had 22 points and 23 rebounds, Havlicek had 27 points and Tom Saunders and Sam Jones each had 23 points each.

Game seven was in Boston and in an indication of how hard the players played, West, Russell and Havlicek all played the entire 48 minutes of the game. The Celtics led early and held a 76-60 lead after three quarters only to have LA outscore them 33-19 in the fourth quarter but fall one field goal shy as Boston won the game and their eighth consecutive NBA title with a 95-93 win.

Russell had 25 points and 32 rebounds, Havlicek had 16 points and 16 rebounds and Sam Jones had 23 points for Boston while Jerry West had 36 points for the Lakers and Elgin Baylor had 18 points and 14 rebounds.

Bill Russell would probably have gotten the series MVP award if they had had one and both teams were back against each other in the finals in 1968.

Larry Siegfried was out of basketball in 1963 when the Celtics needed a guard and John Havlicek suggested they give his old teammate from Ohio State a tryout. Siegfried made the team and went on to play on five NBA championship teams with the Celtics.

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