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1985 NBA Finals: Memorial Day Massacre


The Celtics and Lakers, the NBA's most fabled franchises, have combined to win 33 of the league's 68 total championships since 1947, nearly half. Boston has captured 17 titles and the Lakers 16, the first five of which came from 1949-54 when the franchise was situated in Minneapolis.

In honor of Memorial Day, it would be fun to look back on the 1985 NBA Finals, of which Game 1 was dubbed the Memorial Day Massacre. In this game, Boston beat the Lakers 148-114, in front of nearly 15,000 people at the Boston Garden. Boston had a 38-24 lead at the end of the first, and never looked back, sealing what was, at the time, the most lopsided victory in NBA Finals history.

Every available statistic appropriately summed up the huge disparity. The Lakers trailed by 30 points at halftime, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had as many personal fouls (three) as rebounds and were exposed in every defensive category imaginable. The Celtics shot a playoff record 61% from the field, Scott Wedman hit a playoff record for field accuracy by hitting all 11 of his shot attempts and the Lakers had no answer for Boston's frontline in Larry Bird (19 points, nine assists), Kevin McHale (26 points, nine rebounds) and Robert Parrish (18 points, eight rebounds).

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"It was a nightmare," Magic Johnson told The Times' Thomas Bonk.

There was still plenty of fight in the technical sense of the word. In the third quarter, Byron Scott shoved a forearm into Danny Ainge's back, Ainge threw the ball back at Scott's backside and, moments later, McHale struck an elbow into the back of Scott's head. But there was hardly any fight in the Lakers' overall effort.

"We've been buried before," Lakers Coach Pat Riley said. "But we've never had dirt thrown in our faces."

An unlikely hero for Boston Celtics was Scott Wedman and his perfect shooting that led the onslaught and buried the Lakers, handing them the second-worst Finals loss in their storied franchise history to that point. Wedman scored 26 points in just 23 minutes, and he made all 11 shots he took from the field, including four three-pointers. No player in the 68 years of championship series play has ever made that many shots in a game without missing. Plus, none of the shots were easy or close to the basket.

Lakers would bounce back nicely from the blowout win, defeating the Celtics in four of the next five games to win the series in six games, avenging a loss to Boston in the Finals from a season before. It was the first time in history that the Lakers won the NBA championship on the floor of the Boston Garden.

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