Boston Celtics: How Many Eastern Conference Finals Appearances Does the Iconic Franchise Have?

When you think of sustained success in the history of the NBA, the first two teams that immediately come to mind are the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. Both franchises are tied for the most championships in NBA history with 17, while no other franchise has won more than six.

There hasn’t been a more consistent team in the Eastern Conference than the Celtics over the last 50 years. They’ve won a conference-best six titles since the 1970 merger, and they just punched their ticket to a fourth Eastern Conference Finals appearance in the last six years.

So, how many times have the Celtics reached the Eastern Conference Finals, and what is their record in those series?

How many Eastern Conference Finals appearances do the Celtics have?

Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum celebrate after Game 7 against the Bucks.
Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics high five during Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Milwaukee Bucks | Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: The Boston Celtics are headed back to the Eastern Conference Finals.

It’s not much of a surprise when it happens anymore. The Celtics have now reached four Eastern Conference Finals in the last six years, and they’ve been to the ECF 21 times since the 1970 merger. Boston has been involved in 39.6% of the ECF series over that span.

Since 1970, the Celtics have reached the NBA Finals nine times and have won six titles. Boston is currently on its worst losing streak in the ECF in team history, though, as they’ve failed to reach the NBA Finals in its last four appearances.

Here’s the full list of the franchise’s ECF appearances since the 1970 merger:

YearOpponentResult
2022Miami HeatTBD
2020Miami HeatLost
2018Cleveland CavaliersLost
2017Cleveland CavaliersLost
2012Miami HeatLost
2010Orlando MagicWon (Lost Finals)
2008Detroit PistonsWon (Won Finals)
2002New Jersey NetsLost
1988Detroit PistonsLost
1987Detroit PistonsWon (Lost Finals)
1986Milwaukee BucksWon (Won Finals)
1985Philadelphia 76ersWon (Lost Finals)
1984Milwaukee BucksWon (Won Finals)
1982Philadelphia 76ersLost
1981Philadelphia 76ersWon (Won Finals)
1980Philadelphia 76ersLost
1976Cleveland CavaliersWon (Won Finals)
1975Washington BulletsLost
1974New York KnicksWon (Won Finals)
1973New York KnicksLost
1972New York KnicksLost

Before 1970, the Celtics reached 16 Eastern Division Finals and won 11 championships, including nine in a row from 1959-1966. An NBA title this season would be their first since 2008.

Can the Celtics win championship No. 18 this year?

After knocking off the Brooklyn Nets and the reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks in the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Celtics have to be considered the favorites to win the title in 2022. The Las Vegas odds don’t agree with me (Warriors +130, Celtics +200), but Boston is the most complete team remaining in these playoffs. If they finish the job, they’ll officially pass the Lakers as the kings of the NBA with 18 championships.

The Celtics are -175 favorites to beat the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, and the way they’re playing, I’d be surprised if they don’t.

All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.

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