The 1980-1981 Boston Celtics were a young, talented group led by the talented frontcourt duo of Larry Bird and Robert Parish. Bird was in only his second year, after his rookie year had ended in the biggest single-season turnaround in NBA history (a record later beaten by the 2007-2008 Celtics), but he was already one of the NBA’s best players. Parish, a fifth-year center, was a consistent player, both offensively and defensively.
Bird and Parish were aided by the play of Cedric Maxwell, Nate “Tiny” Archibald and Kevin McHale, a young rookie out of the University of Minnesota, all of whom averaged double figures in points.
The team finished the regular season with a 62-20 record, and went into the playoffs as the #1 seed. After getting a first-round bye, the Celtics swept the Chicago Bulls in the second round, four games to zero.
That set up a matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers, who had pummeled the Celtics in only five games the year before. This time, though, the Celtics got the best of Julius Erving and the 76ers, winning in seven games. That victory sent the Celtics to the NBA Finals, where they beat the Houston Rockets in six games for the franchise’s 14th championship.