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The Mass Media

Top five Celtics teams of all time

With 17 trophies, no franchise in NBA history can boast to claim more championships than the Boston Celtics. Garnering hate from anybody who doesn’t bleed the green and gold should be an indicator of how successful the organization has been since its founding and introduction in 1946, and in such time this same organization has put forth some of the most memorable and prolific teams in league history. Though there are aplenty, here are my picks for the top five Celtics teams, of all time.

 

5. 1973-74 Celtics

This Celtics team, led then by a core of John Havlicek and Don Nelson, were one of two Celtics teams in the 1970s to win a championship. In what was a followup to one of the most proficient seasons by the franchise ever, after having gone 68–14 in the 72–73 season and yet failing to even make the Finals, the 73–74 team was able to pick right back up where the team prior had left off, and completed the run at a title, defeating the Milwaukee Bucks, claiming the Championship and returning yet-to-be named Larry O’Brien trophy to Boston.

 

4. 1980-81 Celtics

Here comes the Bird. Led this season by the only second-year phenom Larry Bird, along with Robert Parish, Nate ‘Tiny’ Archibald, and then rookie Kevin McHale, this Celtics team went 62–20, and went on to claim the Championship over the Houston Rockets, all under second year coach Bill Fitch. This season is remembered as the beginning of the powerhouse that were the Celtics through the 1980’s.

 

3. 1964-65 Celtics, Bill Russell

This will be a disappointment to my father, that this team, and each iteration of it for 11 of 13 seasons, is not my all-time Celtics favorite, as he always thinks back on them ever-so fondly, however I must stick to my truth, a truth that only includes this team out of respect for what I have only ever heard, and unfortunately will never see. This Celtics team particularly was in the midst of arguably the greatest sports run for any franchise ever, and of all the iterations of Celtics over the decade-plus, was arguably made up of the most notable player. Led by then MVP and superstar Bill Russell, along with John Havlicek, K.C. Jones, Tommy Heinsohn and more, this Celtics team beat the Los Angeles Lakers, a trend that’s been proven to make for the most exciting rivalry in sports. See: the next two teams.

 

2.1985-86 Celtics

These top two Celtics teams will undoubtedly make for the most controversial of takes on this list, but as the kids love to say, it is what it is. This, given my personal insight and, better yet, memory, is how I place these team. The 1985-86 Celtics, composed of now experienced MVP Larry Bird, former MVP Bill Walton (whom would go onto win sixth man of the year for the team), prime Kevin McHale, alongside Danny Ainge and Dennis Johnson, would finish the season with a 6715 record, and go on to win the NBA Championship, beating again the Houston Rockets for the Larry O’Brien Trophy. This close-to the same team had beaten the “Showtime” Lakers two years prior in the 1984 season, however it is widely understood that the Celtics of the 86 season were far and more dominant the team. Larry Bird would win Finals MVP in not one, but both outings, cementing him alongside the great Bill Russell as arguably the Best Celtic of all time. Actually, scratch that, there is no argument—he is.

 

1. 2007-08 Celtics

The truth will always come out. Anything is possible. Ray Allen for three. All of these day-to-day sayings perfectly capture what the 2007-08 Boston Celtics represented, and did for the City of Boston. This Celtics team, in more ways than one, changed the landscape of the league for years upon years to come, and gave NBA fans a reintroduction into one of the greatest rivalries in sports. Made up of possibly the first synthetically crafted big three (as opposed to having a homegrown cast of characters), this Celtics team, led by Finals MVP Paul Pierce, the big ticket Kevin Garnett, and debatably the purest shooter ever in Ray Allen, alongside a cast of all meaningful role-players, would beat the Los Angeles Lakers for the Championship in one of the most dominant performances by a Celtics team, ever. The Celtics would claim the championship in six games, winning the final matchup in a whopping 13192 fashion, sending Kobe Bryant and the Lakers packing. Granted, if you are a Celtics, or basketball fan for that matter, you are likely well aware of the way things played out in the seasons following. However, as we have only come here to discuss positives, I will leave the seasons thereafter 2008 untouched, as that team is immortalized in Boston, and to me, as the best Celtics squad of all time.