Great drama unfolds thanks to the unknown. When teams meet for the first time in their respective histories to battle for a championship, the potential for an unforgettable series looms. Will the teams develop a new rivalry? Will the series signal the beginning or end of a dynasty? As the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder tip off in Game 1 of the NBA Finals Tuesday, all that potential is hanging in the air. With any luck, it will end up as memorable as some of these famous first-time clashes.

Best First-Time NBA Finals Battles Slideshow


1951 Royals/Knicks

The original battle for New York between the upstart Royals and the big city Knicks. Bob Davies and Bobby Wanzer used the fast break offense (the only one in the NBA at the time) to eventually outlast the Knicks, winning game seven 79-75 thanks to clutch free throws by Davies for the go-ahead points after a 75-75 deadlock.


1955 Nationals/Pistons

Another powerhouse resided in New York thanks to the Syracuse Nationals, who were facing Fort Wayne for the first time in the final, but playing in their third championship in five years. Led by Paul Seymour, Dolph Schayes, Red Rocha, Billy Kenville, and Dick Farley, the Nationals held off the Pistons to take the series 4-3.


1957 Boston Celtics/Hawks

Led by Bob Cousy, Easy Ed Macauley, and Bill Sharman, the Celtics launched their dynasty in a slugfest with a 4-3 series win. The next year, the Hawks sank the Celtics thanks to a monstrous Game 6 performance by Bob Pettit, who dropped a stunning 50 points in a hair raising 110-109 clincher.


1962 Celtics/Lakers

The first of their 12 NBA Finals matchups. Boston won the series 4-3, and it featured the last Game 7 in Finals history to go to overtime. The legendary Bill Russell was the star of the series, pulling down 189 rebounds, including an astounding 40 in Game 7 alone. The Lakers would not end up beating the Celtics in the Finals until 1985.


1988 Lakers/Pistons

The first of their back-to-back matchups featured seven future Hall of Famers. LA ended up winning the series in seven games, inspired by Finals MVP James Worthy's 36 points/16 rebound performance in the deciding game. The Pistons would get their revenge the following year when they swept the Lakers.


1991 Bulls/Lakers

The beginning of the dynasty for the Bulls. Michael Jordan would win his first of 6 NBA Finals MVP awards, and it signaled the end of the Lakers' dynasty. Magic Johnson retired the following season due to his HIV diagnosis and the Lakers would not reach the NBA Finals again for another nine years.


1994 Rockets/Knicks

It was supposed to be the Knicks' title to win. Patrick Ewing was entering the final years of his career, New York had vanquished Reggie Miller and the pesky Pacers en route to the Finals, and there was no Michael Jordan standing in their way. Unfortunately for New York, Hakeem Olajuwon was perfect in Game 7 with 25 points and 10 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 blocks. The Rockets won 90-84.


1997 Bulls/Jazz

It will forever be remembered as the series that had "The Flu Game." Michael Jordan was extremely ill in Game 5, and he delivered of one the most famous performances of all time, dropping 38 points on the Jazz and giving the Bulls a one-game lead. They closed it out in Game 6, and adding insult to injury, beat the Jazz the following year, as well.


2006 Heat/Mavericks

The first of their two NBA Finals confrontations featured the Heat coming out on top with Dwayne Wade winning the Finals MVP. It was Shaq's fourth Championship ring and his first (and only) since he left the Lakers. It was the first series since 1998 to not feature the Lakers or Spurs.


2007 Spurs/Cavaliers

The series that was supposed to be the coming-out party for Lebron James. Nobody told the Spurs that, however. San Antonio swept the Cavs en route to winning their fourth title since 1999. James played well and averaged 22 points per game.

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