For the first time since Bill Russell was drafted, the 1965-1966 Boston Celtics failed to win the NBA’s Eastern Division. With a final record of 54-26, the Celtics finished second to the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Division, meaning they had to play an extra round in the playoffs.
In the first round, the Eastern Division Semifinals, the Boston Celtics matched up against Oscar Robertson and the Cincinnati Royals. The first round was only five games in those days, and the Boston Celtics won a tight series, three games to two. Next, the Celtics played the Philadelphia 76ers, the team who had taken over their long-standing hold on the Eastern Division.
Though the 76ers won the Eastern Division in the regular season, the Celtics continued to have their number in the postseason, destroying Wilt Chamberlain and the rest of the 76ers in a quick, five-game series. That earned them the right to play the Los Angeles Lakers for the NBA Title, and the 1965-1966 Boston Celtics prevailed, four games to three, to win their eighth straight NBA Championship.
The 1965-1966 season was the dawning of an era in Boston. Red Auerbach, who led the Celtics to eight straight championships and nine overall, called it quits after the campaign. While he would stay in the organization in varying capacities until he passed away on October 28, 2006, the 1965-1966 Boston Celtics would be the last team he ever coached.
For the season, the Celtics had seven players average double figures, continuing the Celtics’ tradition of incredible offensive balance. Winning their eighth championship in a row is an NBA record that will likely never be matched.