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Some of the great teams in NBA history weren’t great enough to win it all. Sometimes you get to the Finals and find that your opponent is the ’60s Celtics or ’90s Bulls. Sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce right. Here are the best of the near-best.
1985-86 Los Angeles Lakers
With a record of 62-20, the Showtime Lakers finished 1st in the NBA Pacific Division under Coach Pat Riley. But they couldn’t get past Hakeem the Dream and the Houston Rockets – the most underrated great team and great player in NBA history.
2001-02 Sacramento Kings
Despite a record of 61-21, enough to finish 1st in the NBA Pacific Division under Coach Rick Adelman, Chris Webber and crew fell to Kobe, Shaq and the eventual champion Lakers.
1967-68 Philadelphia 76ers
Wilt Chamberlain led the Sixers to 62-20 and 1st place in the NBA Eastern Division. Coach Alex Hannum couldn’t solve the Celtics in the Finals.
1971-72 Milwaukee Bucks
Their record was 63-19 and they finished 1st in the NBA Midwest Division behind MVP and scoring champ Kareem Abdul -Jabbar. But Coach Larry Costello couldn’t steer the Bucks past Wilt Chamberlain and his eventual champion Lakers.
2008-09 Cleveland Cavaliers
Their record was 66-16. They finished 1st in the NBA Central Division. Coach Mike Brown couldn’t take his one-man team to the promised land, even when that one man was LeBron James.
1992-93 New York Knicks
Despite a record of 60-22, despite finishing 1st in the NBA Atlantic Division, there was a little problem named Michael Jordan ahead…
1984-85 Boston Celtics
With a record of 63-19, Larry Bird and the Celtics finished 1st in the NBA Atlantic Division under Coach K.C. Jones, falling to the rival Lakers in the Finals.
1968-69 Los Angeles Lakers
With a record: 55-27, the Lakers finished 1st in the NBA Western Division under Coach Butch Van Breda Kolff. The ’60s, though, wore Celtic green, and even Jerry West couldn’t break that grip.
1972-73 Boston Celtics
Record: 68-14. Finished 1st in NBA Atlantic Division. Coached by Tom Heinsohn. It was just the Knicks’ year.
1996-97 Utah Jazz
Record: 64-18, finished 1st in the NBA Midwest Division. Coached by Jerry Sloan. Problem? Michael Jordan…
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