In the 1983-84 season, the NBA expanded to 23 teams and with it came the 16-team playoff format that we have today. Because 16 out of 23 teams made it to the postseason, four teams were under .500. This also meant no more first round byes, meaning the 54-28, No. 1 seeded Los Angeles Lakers had to play in the first round.
In the Eastern Conference, this also affected the Boston Celtics, who went 62-20 but were not given a bye. While it seemed unfair on the surface, it did not change either team’s ability to win.
The Lakers and Celtics both breezed through their individual playoff matchups, with L.A. going 11-3 in the first three rounds and Boston going 11-5. This set up the first Lakers-Celtics finals of the 1980’s and the first since 1969.
The 1984 Finals were the perfect opportunity for the Lakers to get their first ever postseason win over the Celtics, as they were 0-7 prior.
It was an incredibly hard-fought series, with all of the stars playing some of their best basketball. Of course, the series went seven games for maximum drama. There, the Celtics were able to out-last L.A. to move to 8-0 all time against them in the Finals.
The Celtics won their 15th NBA championship overall and the second of the Bird era, while the Lakers went another year without a title after two straight failed trips to the Finals.
NBA regular season statistics
NBA regular season schedule and results
NBA playoffs statistics
NBA playoffs schedule and results