Season by Season
Long Run of Celtic
1958 to 1959
Elgin Baylor burst onto the scene in 1958.
A new superstar burst on the NBA scene with the arrival
of Elgin Baylor in Minneapolis. A 6-5 forward from Seattle, Baylor
helped a Lakers' team that had been 19-53 a year before to a 33-39
record and a Playoff berth by averaging 24.9 points and 15.0 rebounds
per game. He made the All-NBA Team as a rookie, which previously had
been accomplished only by Bob Pettit and Alex Groza. But perhaps his
most profound impact in his first season came in the Playoffs.
Boston had won the East by 12 games, while St. Louis won the West by
16 games. Just about everyone expected a third straight Boston-St.Louis
matchup in the NBA Finals. Boston had a tough time with Syracuse, which
had acquired George Yardley to add to a front line that already boasted
Dolph Schayes and Red Kerr. Pushed to the limit, Boston won the seventh
game of the Eastern Finals, 130-125. St. Louis, however, did not even
make it back to the Finals for the expected date with the Celtics. Baylor
and the Lakers overcame a 2-1 St. Louis lead to win three straight games
and oust the Hawks. Nobody gave the Lakers much chance against the Celtics,
and although the Lakers kept three of the four games close, Boston recorded
the first 4-0 sweep in NBA Finals history. Nobody knew it at the time,
but it would be eight years be to begin its run of eight straight championships.
BAYLOR SETS STANDARD FOR FORWARDS
Even in 1959, 6-5 was not considered tall for a forward in the NBA.
But Elgin Baylor proved to be more than a handful for taller rivals.
As strong as any of his counterparts, Baylor had a smooth scoring style
that was ahead of its time and his ability to seemingly hang in the
air would become the measuring stick for players that followed, like
Connie Hawkins, Julius Erving and Michael Jordan.
Baylor's 55-point game in his rookie season was the third-highest in
NBA history and signaled a new high-scoring era around the NBA.
NBA History Season by Season
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