Warriors-Cavaliers are the 14th NBA Finals rematch


By Tim Reynolds - AP Basketball Writer



By Tim Reynolds

AP Basketball Writer

MIAMI — It’ll either be repeat or redemption.

A rematch will decide.

Cleveland and Golden State are about to reunite in the NBA Finals, starting Thursday night in Oakland, California. It’s the 14th Finals rematch.

A good sign for Cleveland, which lost to Golden State last season: Six of the last seven teams that lost the Finals one year won the rematch encounter.

A good sign for Golden State: The only exception to that trend came in 1997 and 1998, when Utah Jazz lost back-to-back to the Chicago Bulls — a team that featured current Warriors coach Steve Kerr.

Of the previous 13 rematches, defending champions have retained their title six times.

A look at the past rematches:

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MINNEAPOLIS LAKERS vs. NEW YORK KNICKS

1952: Lakers 4, Knicks 3.

George Mikan averaged 21.7 points and 17.4 rebounds, and the Lakers beat the Knicks in seven games. The teams alternated wins and losses in each game.

1953: Lakers 4, Knicks 1.

Mikan was dominant again, averaging 20.8 points. The Knicks took Game 1 on the road, but the Lakers won the next four — keyed by two two-point triumphs.

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ST. LOUIS HAWKS vs. BOSTON CELTICS

1957: Celtics 4, Hawks 3.

A tremendous series, with four of the seven games decided by two points — including Game 7, the Celtics winning 125-123 in double overtime.

1958: Hawks 4, Celtics 2.

Denied a title the previous year, Hawks star Bob Pettit averaged 29.3 points and 17 rebounds — with 50 points in the Game 6 clincher.

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1960: Celtics 4, Hawks 3.

Tom Heinsohn averaged 22.4 points, Bill Russell averaged 24.9 rebounds and the Celtics got four double-digit wins, including a 122-103 victory in Game 7.

1961: Celtics 4, Hawks 1.

More of the same. Heinsohn led the Celtics in scoring again at 22 points, Russell grabbed an astounding 28.8 rebounds and Boston easily defended its title.

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LOS ANGELES LAKERS vs. BOSTON CELTICS

1962: Celtics 4, Lakers 3.

Lakers stars Elgin Baylor (who had a 61-point game, a Finals record) and Jerry West were brilliant, averaging 72 points per game. But the Celtics rallied from 3-2 down. Bill Russell averaged 22.9 points and 27 rebounds for Boston.

1963: Celtics 4, Lakers 2.

Baylor and West averaged 63 points per game. The Celtics, with Sam Jones, Tom Heinsohn and Russell leading the way, had too much depth and balance.

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1965: Celtics 4, Lakers 1.

Boston left little doubt, winning Game 1 by 32 points and Game 5 by 33 points. Jerry West averaged 33.8 points in vain for the Lakers; Sam Jones averaged 27.8 points for Boston.

1966: Celtics 4, Lakers 3.

Up 3-1 at one point, the Celtics were forced to a Game 7 in Red Auerbach’s final season. Boston escaped with a two-point win for its eighth straight title.

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1968: Celtics 4, Lakers 2.

Boston blew a big lead in Game 5 at home but won in overtime, then closed it out on the road in Game 6 behind 40 points from John Havlicek.

1969: Celtics 4, Lakers 3.

The Celtics’ dominance over the NBA continued, Boston winning its 11th title in a 13-year span. Jerry West won the MVP award, in a losing effort.

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1984: Celtics 4, Lakers 3.

Cedric Maxwell’s 24 points in Game 7 and an MVP performance from Larry Bird lifted the Celtics to their 15th world title.

1985: Lakers 4, Celtics 2.

Game 1 was the “Memorial Day Massacre,” a 148-114 Boston win. But the Lakers won four of the next five games, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won the MVP.

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LOS ANGELES LAKERS vs. NEW YORK KNICKS

1972: Lakers 4, Knicks 1.

The Knicks rolled in Game 1, and after that it was all Lakers. Wilt Chamberlain (19.4 ppg, 23.2 rpg) wins MVP honors, leading the Lakers to the win.

1973: Knicks 4, Lakers 1.

Turnabout was fair play; the Lakers grabbed a 1-0 lead and then the Knicks won out. It was Chamberlain’s last game, and the Knicks’ most-recent title.

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SEATTLE SUPERSONICS vs. WASHINGTON BULLETS

1978: Bullets 4, Sonics 3.

Seattle led 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 — but the Bullets took Games 6 and 7. Wes Unseld was Finals MVP, averaging 9 points and nearly 12 rebounds per game.

1979: Sonics 4, Bullets 1.

Gus Williams averaged 28.6 points, Finals MVP Dennis Johnson added 22.6 points and Seattle won the last four games of the series.

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LOS ANGELES LAKERS vs. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

1982: Lakers 4, 76ers 2.

Magic Johnson caps an MVP performance with 13 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists in Game 6, and the Lakers win in Pat Riley’s rookie coaching season.

1983: 76ers 4, Lakers 0.

Moses Malone averaged 25.8 points and 18 rebounds, and the 76ers capped a dominant playoff run with a one-sided romp in the Finals.

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LOS ANGELES LAKERS vs. DETROIT PISTONS

1988: The Lakers win their second straight title, taking Games 6 and 7 by a combined four points. James Worthy scored 36 points in Game 7 for the Lakers.

1989: Detroit’s so-called “Bad Boys” proved best, sweeping to the title behind Joe Dumars’ 27.3 points per game.

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UTAH JAZZ vs. CHICAGO BULLS

1997: Bulls 4, Jazz 2.

Michael Jordan wins MVP honors, he and Scottie Pippen average 52 points and the Bulls hold off Karl Malone, John Stockton and the Jazz.

1998: Bulls 4, Jazz 2.

Jordan’s sixth and final championship was capped by a 45-point effort, punctuated by the go-ahead jumper in the final seconds of Game 6.

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SAN ANTONIO SPURS vs. MIAMI HEAT

2013: Heat 4, Spurs 3.

Ray Allen’s 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left in Game 6 saves Miami, then LeBron James takes over late in Game 7 as the Heat go back-to-back.

2014: Spurs 4, Heat 1.

The Spurs split the first two games at home, then got two big wins in Miami and finished it off at San Antonio in Game 5 for their fifth title.

By Tim Reynolds

AP Basketball Writer

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