The Boston Celtics 56-24 returned to the NBA finals after a five year absence under coach and former player Tommy Heinsohn to face the Milwaukee Bucks 59-23 coached by Larry Costello.
The Celtics were led by John Havlicek 22.6 ppg, Dave Cowens 19.0 ppg 15.7rpg, Jo Jo White 18.1 ppg and Paul Silas 11.5 ppg 11.2 rpg. They had as a reserve former University of Dayton star Henry Finkel.
The Bucks had a similar lineup to that of 1971 with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar leading them with 27.0 ppg 14.5 ppg, former University of Cincinnati star Oscar Robertson 12.7 ppg, Bob Dandridge 18.9 ppg and Lucius Allen 17.6 ppg. Allen however was injured and was unable to play in the finals which the Celtics exploited by putting more pressure on the Bucks’ backcourt.
With Milwaukee having the best record in the NBA the seriesopened in Milwaukee with the Bucks having only to hold home court advantage to win the seriesbut other than Abdul-Jabbar’s 35 points the Bucks had difficulty scoring.
Boston had a balanced attack led by Havlicek with 26, Dave Cowens with 17 points and 19 rebounds and Jo Jo White with 19 points for a 98-83 win.
Still in Milwaukee the Bucks fought back in game two and in overtime got a 105-96 win. Abdul-Jabbar led them with 36 points and 15 rebounds playing a Wilt Chamberlain like 53 minutes while Bob Dandridge added 24 points.
For the Celtics Jo Jo White led with 25 points, Havlicek added 18 and Dave Cowens had 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Game three in Bostonbelonged to the Celtics 95-83 behind Cowens’ 30 points and Havlicek’s 28 points and 12 rebounds. Abdul-Jabbar led Milwaukee with 26 points and 10 rebounds and the Celtics were up 2 games to 1.
The Bucksregrouped in game four in Bostonfor a 97-89 win led again by Abdul-Jabbar with 34 points and 14 rebounds with Bob Dandridge adding 21 points. For the Celtics Havlicek continued his strong play with 33 points while Dave Cowens added 24.
Game five was back in Milwaukee with the see saw quality of the series continuing as Boston pulled out an 96-87 victory behind 28 points each by Cowens and Havlicek even though Abdul-Jabbar had 37 points and 11 rebounds and Oscar Robertson hadhis best game of theseries with 23 points to put the Bucks on the verge of elimination.
This set up the memorable double overtime sixth game in Boston in which Milwaukee tied the series 3-3 behind Oscar Robertson’s 18 points and Abdul-Jabbar’s 34 as both played all 58 minutes for the Bucks. After Havlicek scored the tying basket in both regulation and the first overtime, it was an Abdul-Jabbar sky hook that won it 102-101 for Milwaukee to force a seventh game in Milwaukee.
Havlicek had 36 and Jo Jo White had 18 points for Boston.
With the series all even game seven went to Boston as the tired 36 year old Oscar Robertson was 2 for 23 from the field for 6 total points. Abdul-Jabbar had 26 points and 10 rebounds while for Boston Dave Cowens came up big with 28 points and 14 rebounds in 47 minutes of play while Havlicek and Jo Jo White both contributed 16 points each for a 102-87 win and the NBA title.
The seventh game loss was Oscar Robertson’slastNBA game astogether with Jerry West both retired at the end of the season, marking the end of the careers of two guards who dominated basketball for fourteen years.
Havlicek got the finals MVP award. Boston returned to the finals in 1976 but Milwaukee has not been back showing how difficult it is to just get to the NBA finals.
Ron Griffitts a contribution columnist for the Daily Advocate