Thursday, June 3, 2010
Game 1: 10 Celtics-Lakers nuggets
By Chris Forsberg
LOS ANGELES -- Here are 10 facts and figures to keep in mind for Thursday's Celtics-Lakers clash (ABC, 9 p.m) in Game 1 of the NBA Finals at the Staples Center (information researched for ESPN by Elias Sports Bureau, Inc.):
1. Teams in the four major North American pro sports that have reached their league's ultimate series (or game) the most times (including this year's NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Finals): New York Yankees (40; MLB); Montreal Canadiens (32; NHL); Minneapolis/L.A. Lakers (31; NBA); Detroit Red Wings (24; NHL); Toronto Maple Leafs (21; NHL); Boston Celtics (21; NBA).
2. The Celtics struggled for much of the second half of the regular season, posting only a 27-27 record over their final 54 games. Only one team in NBA history has won the NBA title after registering a .500-or-lower winning percentage over their final 54 games of the season: the Washington Bullets in 1978 (27-27 over final 54 games of 1977-78 season).
3. The Lakers (57) finished with seven more wins than the Celtics (50) during the regular season. This is the 30th time that the NBA Finalists were separated by at least seven wins during the regular season. Only five of the previous 29 teams with the fewer wins won the series (17 percent): St. Louis vs. Boston in 1958, Boston vs. the Lakers in 1969, Golden State vs. Washington in 1975, Houston vs. Orlando in 1995 and Miami vs. Dallas in 2006.
4. Kobe Bryant averaged 33.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 8.3 assists in the Lakers' conference finals victory over Phoenix. Only three other players have averaged at least 33 points, seven rebounds and eight assists per game in a postseason series: Oscar Robertson in the 1963 Eastern Division Finals (33.4 points; 12.4 rebounds; 8.6 assists), Michael Jordan in the 1989 conference semifinals (35.7/9.5/8.3) and LeBron James in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals (38.5/8.3/8.0).
5. Phil Jackson, who has won 10 championships as a head coach, is opposing Doc Rivers, who guided the Celtics to the NBA title in 2008. This is only the second time in the last 23 years that the opposing head coaches in an NBA Finals each enter the series with at least one championship on their resume. The only other time that has happened since 1988 was in the 2005 Finals when Gregg Popovich's Spurs opposed Larry Brown and the Pistons.
6. The Celtics have had a different player lead the team in scoring outright in Game 1 in each of the three rounds of this postseason (Paul Pierce led in the first round, Rajon Rondo in the conference semis, and Ray Allen in the conference finals). Only four teams in NBA history have had four different outright scoring leaders in the first game of four playoff series within one season: the Lakers in 1984, Detroit in 1989, Dallas in 2006 and Cleveland in 2007.
7. Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson have won 110 postseason games together. With their next victory, Bryant and Jackson will break the record for the most playoff wins by a player/coach combination. Jackson and Bryant currently share the record with Jackson and Scottie Pippen, who won 110 playoff games together with the Bulls.
8. The Lakers and Celtics have played 67 games against each other in the postseason (the Celtics won 40 of those games). That is the second most games any two opposing teams have played against one another in the postseason in NBA history. The Celtics and 76ers have opposed each other in 93 postseason games.
9. The Lakers have won each of their last five series-opening games. That is the longest current streak for any team in the league.
10. Phil Jackson has a 41-5 career record in series-opening home games as a head coach. Jackson is 19-3 with the Lakers in those games after going 22-2 with the Bulls.