The Amazing 1986 Boston Celtics
The 1985-86 Boston Celtics may be the greatest NBA team to ever take the floor. It was a team of future Hall of Famers, who were healthy and at their best, and importantly were unselfish and played a team style of game of great passing and smart defense. The Celtics won 67 games and cruised through the playoffs for their 16th banner.
Larry Bird was the MVP of the league in 1986. He averaged 26 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals a game. The rest of the “Big 3” up front were Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. Both were among the league leaders in field goal percentage and blocks. The starters at guard were the versatile duo of Dennis Johnson, who was known for his defense, and Danny Ainge, who could hit outside shots. Scott Wedman and Jerry Sichting were two of their most important bench players, while the best Celtic off the bench also won the NBA’s 6th Man award. It was Bill Walton, who was a risky trade addition.
The NBA was very big, for height, in the mid 1980s. Kareem, Ewing, Olajuwon, Laimbeer, Sampson, Moses Malone, Eaton, Bol, the paint was where games were won. The Celtics added oft-injured center Bill Walton by sending Cedric Maxwell and first round pick to the Clippers. Walton had missed a huge amount of games due to ankle injuries, including three complete seasons, and few people expected him to do a lot for the Celtics. In 1985-86 Walton played a career-high 80 games. He contributed in all statistics, including 2.1 assists per game in only 19.3 minutes as a center, and he kept Parish and McHale out of foul trouble. He was the leader of the bench group which included Wedman and Sichting as well as Greg Kite, Rick Carlisle, Sam Vincent and David Thirdkill.
Despite Michael Jordan scoring 44 points per game, Boston swept the Bulls in three games to open the playoffs. Boston won the next round, four games to one, over Atlanta before sweeping the Bucks to each the finals. It wasn’t the Lakers there in the finals against them, it was Olajuwon and Sampson and the Houston Rockets. Bird was the MVP with 24 points, 9.7 rebounds, 9.5 assists and 2.7 steals. McHale led Boston in scoring with 25.8 points a game. Walton shot 62.2% off the bench. The Celtics won the finals in six games. It was a team of superstars, and many future NBA coaches, which played together as the perfect team.