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1988 NBA Finals
1988 NBA Finals logo.png
Team Coach Wins
Los Angeles Lakers Pat Riley 4
Detroit Pistons Chuck Daly 3
Dates: June 7–21
MVP: James Worthy
(Los Angeles Lakers)
Eastern Finals: Pistons defeated Celtics, 4–2
Western Finals: Lakers defeated Mavericks, 4–3

The 1988 NBA Finals was the championship round of the National Basketball Association (NBA)'s 1987–88 season, and the culmination of the season's playoffs.

The defending NBA champion and Western Conference champion Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Eastern Conference champion Detroit Pistons 4 games to 3.

One of Los Angeles Lakers head coach Pat Riley's most famous moments came when he promised the crowd a repeat championship during the Lakers' 1986-87 championship parade in downtown Los Angeles. With every team in the league now gunning for them, the Los Angeles Lakers still found a way to win, taking their seventh consecutive Pacific Division title. While the 1988 Lakers did not produce as many wins in the regular season as the 1987 Lakers, they were just as successful in the playoffs, becoming the first team in 19 years to repeat as champions. The Lakers met the physical Detroit Pistons in the 1988 NBA Finals.

One of Pistons guard Isiah Thomas's career-defining performances came in Game 6. Despite badly twisting his ankle midway through the period, Thomas scored an NBA Finals record 25 third-quarter points, as Detroit fell valiantly, 103–102, to the Lakers at the Forum.

Thomas still managed to score 10 first-half points in Game 7, as Detroit built a 5-point lead. In the 3rd quarter, the Lakers, inspired by Finals MVP James Worthy and Byron Scott (14 3rd-quarter points), exploded as they built a 10-point lead entering the final period. The lead swelled to 15 before Detroit mounted a furious 4th-quarter rally, trimming the lead to two points on several occasions.

1988 NBA Playoffs

Los Angeles Lakers (Western Conference Champion) Detroit Pistons (Eastern Conference Champion)
62–20 (.756)

1st Pacific, 1st West, 1st Overall

Regular season 54–28 (.659)

1st Central, 2nd East, 4th Overall

Defeated the (8) San Antonio Spurs, 3–0 First Round Defeated the (7) Washington Bullets, 3–2
Defeated the (5) Utah Jazz, 4–3 Conference Semifinals Defeated the (3) Chicago Bulls, 4–1
Defeated the (3) Dallas Mavericks, 4–3 Conference Finals Defeated the (1) Boston Celtics, 4–2

Series summary

Game Date Home Team Result Road Team
Game 1 June 7 Los Angeles 93–105 Detroit
Game 2 June 9 Los Angeles 108–96 Detroit
Game 3 June 12 Detroit 86–99 Los Angeles
Game 4 June 14 Detroit 111–86 Los Angeles
Game 5 June 16 Detroit 104–94 Los Angeles
Game 6 June 19 Los Angeles 103–102 Detroit
Game 7 June 21 Los Angeles 108–105 Detroit
Preceded by
1987
NBA Finals
1988
Succeeded by
1989
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