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1985-86 NBA season

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Title: 1985-86 NBA season  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Houston Rockets, Manute Bol, Darryl Dawkins, Dominique Wilkins, Boston Garden, Dražen Petrović, Bill Laimbeer, Miami Vice Theme, Kevin McHale (basketball), Hubie Brown
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1985-86 NBA season

1985–86 NBA season
League National Basketball Association
Sport Basketball
Duration Oct 25, 1985 – Apr 13, 1986
Apr 17 – May 21, 1986 (Playoffs)
May 26 – Jun 8, 1986 (Finals)
Number of teams 23
TV partner(s) CBS, TBS
Top draft pick Patrick Ewing
Picked by New York Knicks
Regular season
Top seed Boston Celtics
Season MVP Larry Bird (Boston)
Top scorer Dominique Wilkins (Atlanta)
Eastern champions Boston Celtics
  Eastern runners-up Milwaukee Bucks
Western champions Houston Rockets
  Western runners-up Los Angeles Lakers
Finals champions Boston Celtics
  Runners-up Houston Rockets
Finals MVP Larry Bird (Boston)
NBA seasons

The 1985–86 NBA season was the 40th season of the National Basketball Association. The season ended with the Boston Celtics winning their third championship of the decade, beating the Houston Rockets 4 games to 2 in the NBA Finals.

Notable occurrences

Coaching changes
Team 1984-85 coach 1985-86 coach
Philadelphia 76ers Billy Cunningham Matt Guokas
Chicago Bulls Kevin Loughery Stan Albeck
New Jersey Nets Stan Albeck Dave Wohl
Seattle SuperSonics Lenny Wilkens Bernie Bickerstaff
Team Outgoing coach Incoming coach
Washington Bullets Gene Shue Kevin Loughery
Cleveland Cavaliers George Karl Gene Littles
  • The 1986 NBA All-Star Game was played at Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas, with the East defeating the West 139–132. Isiah Thomas of the Detroit Pistons wins the game's MVP award. To add to the All-Star Weekend festivities, 5-foot-7-inch Spud Webb of the Atlanta Hawks wins the slam-dunk competition. The first three-point shootout was also held, won by Larry Bird (his first of three consecutive).
  • The Kings relocate from Kansas City, Missouri to Sacramento, California. They played their home games at ARCO Arena I for three seasons while Arco Arena II was under construction.
  • The Chicago Bulls are the last Eastern Conference team in NBA history to lose 50 or more games in a season and still make the playoffs.
  • The Boston Celtics post an impressive 40–1 (.976) record at home, the closest any NBA team has ever come to playing a perfect home season. Their only regular-season home loss occurred on December 6, 1985, to the Portland Trail Blazers, by the score of 121–103. The Celtics would also win all 10 of their home games in the postseason.
  • This season marks the first time the NBA hands out a Most Improved Player award at the end of a season. Alvin Robertson of the San Antonio Spurs is the first to win the award. Robertson would also set the record for consecutive games with a steal (105), which stood for 22 years.
  • In Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round series, Michael Jordan scores 63 points against Boston, but his Chicago Bulls would lose in double overtime.
  • All Midwest Division teams make the playoffs, the first time an entire division had done this since the 1983-84 season when all Atlantic Division teams made the playoffs.
  • The first NBA Draft of the Lottery Era was conducted at the Felt Forum of Madison Square Garden in New York City. Patrick Ewing was unanimously selected as the first overall pick by the New York Knicks. Ewing, the winner of the NBA Rookie of the Year Award that season, set the record for most games missed (31) for a Rookie of the Year winner.
  • Ralph Sampson's off-balanced buzzer-beating shot in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals sent the Houston Rockets to their second NBA Finals, defeating the erstwhile defending champion Los Angeles Lakers 4-1. This marked the second and last time in the 1980s a team other than the Lakers represented the West in the NBA Finals (1981, also by the Rockets). The Rockets fell in six games to the Boston Celtics, a similar result to their previous meeting five years earlier.
  • Detlef Schrempf became the first German player to enter the NBA. He would later become the first European-born player to be named an All-Star in 1993 and had the most number of seasons played for a European player.
  • New Jersey Nets guard Micheal Ray Richardson was banned for life by the NBA for his third violation of the league's anti-drug policy. Houston Rockets guard John Lucas was also suspended by the team for a similar violation; had he not been suspended, he would've played in the NBA Finals for the first time.

Final standings

By division

Atlantic Division W L PCT GB Home Road Div
y-Boston Celtics 67 15 .817 40–1 27–14 18–6
x-Philadelphia 76ers 54 28 .659 13 31–10 23–18 15–9
x-New Jersey Nets 39 43 .476 28 26–15 13–28 11–13
x-Washington Bullets 39 43 .476 28 26–15 13–28 11–13
New York Knicks 23 59 .280 44 15–26 8–33 5–19

Central Division W L PCT GB Home Road Div
y-Milwaukee Bucks 57 25 .695 33–8 24–17 21–9
x-Atlanta Hawks 50 32 .610 7 34–7 16–25 21–9
x-Detroit Pistons 46 36 .561 11 31–10 15–26 18–12
x-Chicago Bulls 30 52 .366 27 22–19 8–33 10–20
Cleveland Cavaliers 29 53 .354 28 16–25 13–28 10–19
Indiana Pacers 26 56 .317 31 19–22 7–34 9–20

By conference


  • z – Clinched home court advantage for the entire playoffs
  • c – Clinched home court advantage for the conference playoffs
  • y – Clinched division title
  • x – Clinched playoff spot


Teams in bold advanced to the next round. The numbers to the left of each team indicate the team's seeding in its conference, and the numbers to the right indicate the number of games the team won in that round. The division champions are marked by an asterisk. Home court advantage does not necessarily belong to the higher-seeded team, but instead the team with the better regular season record; teams enjoying the home advantage are shown in italics.

Main article: 1986 NBA Playoffs
  First Round Conference Semifinals Conference Finals NBA Finals
1  L.A. Lakers 3  
8  San Antonio 0  
  1  L.A. Lakers 4  
  4  Dallas 2  
4  Dallas 3
5  Utah 1  
  1  L.A. Lakers 1  
Western Conference
  2  Houston 4  
3  Denver 3  
6  Portland 1  
  3  Denver 2
  2  Houston 4  
2  Houston 3
7  Sacramento 0  
  W2  Houston 2
  E1  Boston 4
1  Boston 3  
8  Chicago 0  
  1  Boston 4
  4  Atlanta 1  
4  Atlanta 3
5  Detroit 1  
  1  Boston 4
Eastern Conference
  2  Milwaukee 0  
3  Philadelphia 3  
6  Washington 2  
  3  Philadelphia 3
  2  Milwaukee 4  
2  Milwaukee 3
7  New Jersey 0  

Statistics leaders

Category Player Team Stat
Points per game Dominique Wilkins Atlanta Hawks 30.3
Rebounds per game Bill Laimbeer Detroit Pistons 13.1
Assists per game Magic Johnson Los Angeles Lakers 12.6
Steals per game Alvin Robertson San Antonio Spurs 3.7
Blocks per game Manute Bol Washington Bullets 5.0
FG% Steve Johnson San Antonio Spurs 63.2
FT% Larry Bird Boston Celtics 89.6
3FG% Craig Hodges Milwaukee Bucks 45.1

NBA awards

Note: All information on this page were obtained on the History section on

Player of the week

The following players were named NBA Player of the Week.

Week Player
Oct. 25 – Nov. 3 Derek Smith (Los Angeles Clippers)
Nov. 4 – Nov. 10 Buck Williams (New Jersey Nets)
Nov. 11 – Nov. 17 Patrick Ewing (New York Knicks)
Nov. 17 – Nov. 24 Alex English (Denver Nuggets)
Nov. 25 – Dec. 1 Larry Bird (Boston Celtics)
Dec. 2 – Dec. 8 Jeff Ruland (Washington Bullets)
Dec. 9 – Dec. 15 Alvin Robertson (San Antonio Spurs)
Dec. 16 – Dec. 22 Larry Nance (Phoenix Suns)
Dec. 23 – Dec. 29 Dominique Wilkins (Atlanta Hawks)
Dec. 30 – Jan. 5 Clyde Drexler (Portland Trail Blazers)
Jan. 6 – Jan. 12 Calvin Natt (Denver Nuggets)
Jan. 13 – Jan. 19 Larry Bird (Boston Celtics)
Jan. 20 – Jan. 26 Charles Barkley (Philadelphia 76ers)
Jan. 27 – Feb. 2 Alex English (Denver Nuggets)
Feb. 3 – Feb. 16 Larry Bird (Boston Celtics)
Feb. 17 – Feb. 23 Sidney Moncrief (Milwaukee Bucks)
Feb. 24 – Mar. 2 Charles Barkley (Philadelphia 76ers)
Mar. 3 – Mar. 9 Magic Johnson (Los Angeles Lakers)
Mar. 10 – Mar. 16 Larry Bird (Boston Celtics)
Mar. 17 – Mar. 23 Adrian Dantley (Utah Jazz)
Mar. 24 – Mar. 30 Charles Barkley (Philadelphia 76ers)
Mar. 31 – Apr. 6 Herb Williams (Indiana Pacers)
Apr. 7 – Apr. 13 Dominique Wilkins (Atlanta Hawks)

Player of the month

The following players were named NBA Player of the Month.

Month Player
November Akeem Olajuwon (Houston Rockets)
December Alvin Robertson (San Antonio Spurs)
January Dominique Wilkins (Atlanta Hawks)
February Larry Bird (Boston Celtics)
March Larry Bird (Boston Celtics)

Rookie of the month

The following players were named NBA Rookie of the Month.

Month Rookie
November Patrick Ewing (New York Knicks)
December Karl Malone (Utah Jazz)
January Patrick Ewing (New York Knicks)
February Charles Oakley (Chicago Bulls)
March Benoit Benjamin (Los Angeles Clippers)

Coach of the month

The following coaches were named NBA Coach of the Month.

Month Coach
November Pat Riley (Los Angeles Lakers)
December Cotton Fitzsimmons (San Antonio Spurs)
January Mike Fratello (Atlanta Hawks)
February Chuck Daly (Detroit Pistons)
March K.C. Jones (Boston Celtics)

External links

  • 1985–86 NBA season at Basketball Reference
  • 1985–86 NBA season summary at

See also

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