Celtics vs. 76ers: Game 7 history lesson


On Saturday, the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics will meet in a Game 7 for the sixth time in what was once one of the greatest rivalries in sports. It's the first 76ers-Celtics Game 7 in 30 years. The Celtics won 3 of the previous 5 Game 7s since the 76ers franchise moved to Philadelphia in 1963.

Here's a look back at all of them:

1965 Eastern Division finals: Celtics 110, 76ers 109

After acquiring Wilt Chamberlain from the Warriors during the season, the Sixers met the Celtics with a trip to the NBA Finals on the line. With 5 seconds left and the Celtics leading by a point, the Sixers had a chance to win, but John Havlicek stole Hal Greer's inbound pass and the Celtics advanced to the NBA Finals and defeated the Lakers in 5 games for their seventh straight title.

1968 Eastern Division finals: Celtics 100, 76ers 96

The Celtics became the first team in NBA history to rally from a 3-1 series deficit to win, as they knocked off the defending champion Sixers in 7 games to advance to the NBA Finals. Sam Jones led Boston with 22 points. The Celtics went on to win their 10th title in 12 years by defeating the Lakers in 6 games.

1977 Eastern Conference semifinals: 76ers 83, Celtics 77

After acquiring Julius Erving before the season, the Sixers hosted the Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Sixers took control of a low-scoring affair in the second half, as World B. Free came off the bench to score 27 points. The Sixers reached the NBA Finals but lost to the Trail Blazers in 6 games.

1981 Eastern Conference finals: Celtics 91, 76ers 90

ESPN.com's John Hollinger ranked this series as the best playoff series in NBA history. Five of the 7 games were decided by 1 or 2 points. Just like they did in 1968, the Celtics rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to eliminate the Sixers. Larry Bird hit the game-winning jumper with 1:03 left. Maurice Cheeks had a chance to tie it at the free throw line with 29 seconds left, but he missed 1 of 2 free throw attempts, and the Celtics hung on for the win. The Celtics held off the Rockets in 6 games to win the NBA Championship.

1982 Eastern Conference finals: 76ers 120, Celtics 106

After the Celtics won Games 5 and 6, the Sixers took control in the third quarter to win Game 7 on the road. Andrew Toney (a.k.a. "The Boston Strangler") scored 34 points, Dr. J scored 29 and Maurice Cheeks had 19 points and 11 assists. The Sixers fell to the Lakers in 6 games in the NBA Finals.

Note that the Philadelphia 76ers were previously the Syracuse Nationals, who faced the Boston Celtics in a Game 7 in the 1959 Eastern Division finals (Celtics won). But this will be the sixth meeting between these two teams since the Philadelphia 76ers franchise moved to Philadelphia in 1963. The Philadelphia Warriors also met the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the 1962 Eastern Division finals (Celtics won), but the Philadelphia Warriors were the franchise that eventually became the Golden State Warriors, so that is a different franchise than the 76ers.