The NBA Finals are underway, and as always, it is an exciting time for NBA fans. The Boston Celtics and the Golden State Warriors are in an intense series, and at this point, both teams have a legitimate chance of winning. And, there is a strong chance this series goes seven games.
When it comes to the NBA Finals, there are two things that usually happen. Either a team continues to build their legacy (and create a dynasty) or a fresh, young team wins their first championship. The past few years have gone this way, which made the finals even more exciting. Here are the last NBA champions.
1.) The Milwaukee Bucks (2021)
The Milwaukee Bucks had quite the season last year. They finished the season 46-26, and as the third seed of the Eastern Conference, they made it all the way to the finals. Milwaukee went through teams such as the Miami Heat, the Brooklyn Nets and the Atlanta Hawks to reach the finals. They swept Miami in the first round, beat the Nets in seven games and took out the red-hot Hawks in six. Milwaukee made it to the finals, and took on the Phoenix Suns.
The Suns started the series with a 2-0 lead over the Bucks, but Milwaukee turned the series around once they reached their home floor. Milwaukee won the next two games to tie the series, and pulled off a win in Phoenix to take a 3-2 lead. Then, Bucks star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo had an incredible performance in Game 6. Antetokounmpo had 50 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks. Antetokounmpo averaged 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists in this series, and was named Finals MVP. The Bucks won their first championship in 50 years, and while things did not go their way this season, they are still contenders going into next year.
2.) The Los Angeles Lakers (2020)
The Lakers may not have had a great season this year, but the year before, they were NBA champions. This was a bit different, as they won their championship in the famous “NBA Bubble.” The “NBA Bubble” was the NBA’s solution to completing their 2019-20 season, which was put on hold due to the start of the pandemic. Teams flew to Orlando to be isolated and complete the rest of the season. The Lakers were the first seed of the West, and won each of their playoff series 4-1. They reached the NBA Finals where they took on the Miami Heat. The Lakers won 4-2. This was LeBron James’ fourth championship and his fourth Finals MVP. This championship also marked the Lakers 17th championship in franchise history. The Lakers took care of business (despite obstacles such as the bubble) and won a title. Now, they are in search of another.
3.) The Toronto Raptors (2019)
The Toronto Raptors were arguably one of the most surprising championships in recent memory. They were typically a playoff team, but would lose in the first or second round. And it was James and the Cleveland Cavaliers that would normally eliminate them. The 2018-19 season was special for the Raptors, as it was the season they acquired Kawhi Leonard. The Spurs traded Leonard and Danny Green were traded to Toronto in exchange for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Pöltl and a protected 2019 first-round draft pick. Leonard led the Raptors to the NBA Finals, where they faced the Golden State Warriors. The Raptors won the series 4-2 and won their first championship in franchise history. It was a change of pace, as the last few championships went to a familiar team.
4.) The Golden State Warriors (2018)
The Golden State Warriors were no strangers to the NBA Finals. They won their first championship in 2015, lost to the Cavaliers in 2016, and won back-to-back in 2017 and 2018. This championship was the end of the Cavs/Warriors matchups, and the Warriors came out on top. The Warriors won this series 4-0. Kevin Durant won Finals MVP by averaging 28.8 points, 10.8 rebounds and 7.5 assists.
This year’s NBA Finals are getting interesting, and soon enough, we’ll see another champion.