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Willis Reed, Dave Cowens
The Knicks' Willis Reed battled the Celtics' Dave Cowens during the Eastern Confernce finals.
Dick Raphael/NBAE/Getty Images

Season review: 1972-73


Posted Mar 2 2013 10:37PM

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The defense-oriented New York Knicks were so well-balanced that none of their players finished the 1972-73 season among the individual stats' leaders -- except for Bill Bradley, who finished fifth in free-throw percentage.

Adding to that balance was guard Earl Monroe, whom the Knicks acquired earlier in the previous season, teamed with Walt Frazier in the backcourt to wreak havoc on opposing guards.

During the regular season, 6-foot-1 Nate "Tiny" Archibald pulled off the amazing by leading the league in scoring (34.0 ppg) and assists (11.4 apg). His Kings, who had moved from Cincinnati (where they were the Royals), divided their home games between Kansas City, Mo., and Omaha, Neb. Though the Kings finished 36-46 and were one of the league's worst teams, Archibald still accomplished his feat while also playing a league-leading 46 minutes a game.

While the Kings had their bright spot in Archibald, there surely wasn't anything positive in Philadelphia this season. Before the season, the Sixers lost star forward Billy Cunningham, who defected to the upstart ABA. His departure caused Philly to suffer through a 9-73 season, the worst ever in league history.

Boston seemed like the title favorite during the season as it rolled up 68 wins, a franchise record, and boasted the league's MVP: center Dave Cowens. In the playoffs, they breezed past the Hawks in six games, setting up a showdown with the Knicks.

The Knicks made it look easy. Bradley, Willis Reed, Dave DeBusschere, Monroe and Frazier lead the charge and Jerry Lucas and Phil Jackson -- two key reserves -- helped the Knicks waltz past Baltimore in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Although it went seven games, the Knicks-Celtics conference finals had its fair share of blowouts and close calls. Yet in Game 7, the Knicks won 94-78 at Boston Garden to return to The Finals.

In The Finals, the Knicks dropped Game 1 to the Lakers, then won four straight closely contested games for the Knicks' second NBA title. It was the last Finals appearance for all-time great center Wilt Chamberlain. For his career, Chamberlain had taken three different teams to seven Finals apperances, winning twice.

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Playoffs

Eastern Conference semifinals

Boston defeated Atlanta (4-2)
New York defeated Baltimore (4-1)

Western Conference semifinals

Golden State defeated Milwaukee (4-2)
Los Angeles defeated Chicago (4-3)

Eastern Conference finals

New York defeated Boston (4-3)

Western Conference finals

Los Angeles defeated Golden State (4-2)

NBA Finals

New York defeated Los Angeles (4-1)

Season leaders

PPG -- Nate Archibald, K.C./Omaha Kings (34.0)
FG% -- Wilt Chamberlain, L.A. Lakers (.727)
FT% -- Rick Barry, Golden State Warriors (.902)
Assists -- Nate Archibald, K.C./Omaha Kings (11.4)
Rebounds -- Wilt Chamberlain, L.A. Lakers (18.6)

Award winners

Most Valuable Player -- Dave Cowens, Boston Celtics
Rookie of the Year -- Bob McAdoo, Buffalo Braves
Coach of the Year -- Tom Heinsohn, Boston Celtics
All-Star Game MVP -- Dave Cowens, Boston Celtics
Finals MVP -- Willis Reed, New York Knicks

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