The 1977 finals featured one team the Portland Trail Blazers who were in their first NBA final and the Philadelphia 76er’s who had not been there since the Wilt Chamberlain era in 1967.
It also introduced to the Championship Series two of basketball’s most memorable figures in Julius Erving and Bill Walton.
The Trailblazers 49-33 were coached by Jack Ramsey and led by Maurice Lucas 20.2 ppg 11.5 rpg, Bill Walton 18.6 ppg 14.4 rpg 3.8 apg 3.2 bpg and Lionel Hollins 14.7 ppg.
The 76ers were coached by former star guard for the Pistons Gene Shue and featured Erving 21.6 ppg 8.5 rpg, Doug Collins 18.3 ppg 4.7 rpg who would later gain fame for coaching the Chicago Bulls during Micheal Jordan’s early years in the NBA, George McGinnis 21.4 11.5 rpg and World B Free 16.3 ppg.
Both teams benefited from players who had begun their careers in the ABA. In the ABA dispersal draft the previous year Portland picked up Maurice Lucas and the 76ershad earlier signed both George McGinnis and Julius Erving from the ABA.
Game one was held in The Spectrum in Philadelphia as Erving with 33 points and Collins with 30 led the 76ers to a 107-101 win. Walton led Portland with 28 points/20 rebounds and Maurice Lucas added 18 points and the Trailblazers go up 1-0.
Still in Philadelphia the Trail Blazers had trouble finding the basket as they made only 36 of 101 field goal attemptsand the 76ers win game two 107-89 behind Doug Collins 27 points and Erving’s 20.
Walton led the Trail Blazers with 17 points/16 rebounds while Maurice Lucas added 14 points/10 rebounds. But in an interesting statistic Portland outrebounded Philadelphia 58-52 and usually the team that controls the boards wins the series.
Game three shifted to Memorial Coliseum in Portland for the first NBA finals game in that city and energized by the home crowd the Trail Blazers responded with a convincing 129-107 victory.Erving had 28 points/11 rebounds and Doug Collins added 21.
The Walton had a big game with 20 points on 9 of 15 attempts, 18 rebounds, 4 blocked shots and 9 assists. Maurice Lucas had 27 points/12 rebounds and former University of Dayton star Johnny Davis added 18 points.
In game four the Trail Blazers continued their hot hand with 56% from the field to blow out the 76ers 130-98. Lionel Hollins led Portland with 25 points, Lucas had 24 points/12 rebounds and Walton had 12 points/13 rebounds/4 blocked shots/7 assists.
Pivotal game five was back at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. The 76ersstarted out slowly in the first quarter and were behind in the third quarter by 21 points and made a valiant run in the fourth quarter but it was not enough as Portland held on for a 110-106 win.
Playing 47 minutes Julius Erving scored 37 points and Collins added 23 with Caldwell Jones pulling down 13 rebounds but the 76ers were out rebounded 59-47 with Walton having 24 rebounds/14 points and Maurice Lucas with 20 points/13 rebounds.
Game six shifted to Portland for the closest game of the series as the 76ers tried to stave off elimination. Erving’s 40 points kept them in the game and GeorgeMcGinnis had his best game of the series with 28 points/16 rebounds but with five seconds left in regulation missed a jump shot that would have sent the game to overtime.
Portland pulled out a 109-107 win behind Walton’s 20 points/23 rebounds/7 assists/8 blocks. Lionel Hollins added 20 points and Bob Gross scored 24 for the Blazers for their firstand only NBA title.
Bill Walton got the series MVP and what promised to be a brilliant career was sidelined with injuries as he did not play a full season again. He did however return to the finals with the Boston Celtics in 1986.
Philadelphia returned in 1983 after the 76ers had acquired Moses Malone.
Ron Griffitts a contribution columnist for the Daily Advocate