NBA Finals Game 5 & 6
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers were undefeated at home, but needed to win either Game 5 or Game 7 on the road in Philadelphia in order to win the series and the title.
The key for Game 5 was to keep the momentum the Blazers had running high and get off to a fast start. And that’s just what they did. They put up 40 points in the opening quarter to quiet the Spectrum crowd.
Bob Gross, whose only responsibility in the series was to stop Dr. J on the offensive end, enjoyed his best game of the playoffs. “Bobby just broke loose,” said Maurice Lucas who had 20 points and 13 rebounds of his own. “He gave us the lift just when we needed it.” Gross finished with 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting and dished out 5 assists to help the Blazers hold on and prevail 110-104, for the biggest win in the franchise’s brief history.
June 5, 1977 a day that would live forever in the minds of Portlanders and Oregonians as the day they and their team were kings of the basketball world. Up 3-2 in the series with a chance to win the title in front of the home crowd was all the motivation the Blazers needed in Game 6. Though, the Sixers would not go out quietly. Julius Erving and George McGinnis combined to score 68 of the 76ers 107 points. Unfortunately for them it wasn’t enough.
The Blazers were clinging to a two-point lead with just under 30 seconds remaining in regulation. The Sixers still had an opportunity to tie the game at 109 and send the game into overtime. Dr. J attempted a jumper, missed got his own rebound and shot again, this time it was blocked by Bob Gross out of bounds.
The Sixers had five seconds and needed a basket to keep their season alive. Walton and company was ready to end the series. Using Erving as a decoy, George McGinnis got a good look at the hoop but missed long. Walton’s keen awareness and ability to be in the right spot paid off, rather than risk having the ball stripped as he came down with it, he out jumped Dr. J and tapped it out to a wide open Johnny Davis who ran the clock out.
The roof of Memorial Coliseum blew off of its supports. Walton ripped his jersey off and hurled into a crowd of Blazer-maniacs. The Blazers were world champions!
The Blazers went 10-0 at home in playoffs to set a NBA post-season record.
Walton’s Game 6 would go down as one of the best performances in NBA Finals history: 20 points, 23 rebounds, 7 assists and 8 blocked shots. His performance would earn him MVP of the series.
The following day an estimated quarter million Blazer-maniacs joined the Blazers as they celebrated their title in Terry Schrunk Plaza. “I’ll never be able to think of that Monday without smiling,” said Team President Harry Glickman. “It was just such a great day for Portland and the whole state. That was Blazermania. Everybody had signs that said, ‘Rip City’ or ‘Red-Hot and Rollin’.”