A rivalry that began more than seven decades ago, these two iconic franchises are the two winningest franchises in NBA history in both overall wins and titles and have played one another in the NBA Finals more than any two teams in league history.
With more than 70 years of battles, how many times have the Lakers and Celtics played one another?
How many times have the Lakers and Celtics played in the regular season?
Through the 2020-2021 season, the Lakers and Celtics have played one another 294 times in the regular season.
The Lakers and Celtics matched up for the first time on November 9, 1948. At that time, the Lakers were still in Minneapolis and both teams were a part of the Basketball Association of America (BAA). In 1949, the BAA merged with the National Basketball League (NBL) to form the NBA that everyone knows today. All BAA history and games are claimed by the NBA.
The Celtics won that first game, 77-55, but the Lakers would win three of the five games played that season. The Lakers and Celtics played 91 regular-season games before the Lakers moved to Los Angeles in 1960. Boston won 54 of those games.
In the 203 games since, the Celtics hold a 108-95 edge in head-to-head action. Overall in the regular season, Boston holds a 162-132 lead.
How many times have the Lakers and Celtics played in the NBA Finals?
The Lakers and Celtics have played one another in the NBA Finals a record 12 times.
The first time the two teams played in the finals was 1959, the Lakers’ final season in Minneapolis. The Celtics won that series in a sweep and would go on to dominate the rivalry throughout the 1960s. The Lakers and Celtics battled for NBA glory six times that decade, with Boston coming out on top every single time.
After the Celtics triumphed in 1969, it would be 15 years before the two teams would meet again in the NBA Finals. Magic Johnson and the Lakers took on Larry Bird and the Celtics and Boston once again emerged victorious. After eight tries, the Lakers finally got the best of their rival with a win in the 1985 finals and would do so again in 1987.
21 years later, the rivalry resurfaced as Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen led the Celtics to their first title in 22 years with a win over Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. Two years later, Kobe & Co. would get their revenge.
Overall, the Celtics hold the lead in series won at 9-3. In the 74 total games of those series, Boston also leads at 43-31.
Who has won more NBA titles?
The Lakers and Celtics easily hold the top two spots when it comes to NBA titles.
Boston has 17 titles overall, with wins in 1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1974, 1976, 1981, 1984, 1986, and 2008. The Lakers matched the Celtics’ total in 2020 and now have 17 titles of their own, having won championships in 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1972, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010, and 2020.
The two teams closest to the Lakers and Celtics on the all-time list are the Chicago Bulls and Golden State Warriors, each of whom have six titles.