The best Sixers team in franchise history
Led by Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain and Hal Greer, the 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers team is widely considered one of the best squads in NBA history. This particular Sixers team won a franchise-record 68 games during the regular season and was pretty much unbeatable when everyone was playing its role to a T.
Coached by Alex Hannum, the 1966-67 Sixers started the season with a ridiculous 16-2 run. Their two losses were to the Boston Celtics and Cincinnati Royals.
After their loss to the Royals, the Sixers racked up an 11-game winning streak before losing their third game of the season versus the Celtics again.
The 76ers averaged 125.2 points per game this season, which was first in the league. They were also a top-three defensive team. Philly was only giving up 115.8 points a night, so opposing teams were dealing with nightmares trying to game plan for the Sixers on both sides of the ball.
Chamberlain won the regular-season MVP award, averaging 24.1 points and 24.2 rebounds in 45.5 minutes per contest. Wilt played in 81 games at the age of 30.
Greer, meanwhile, put up 22.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists as Wilt’s Robin. Fellow Hall of Famer Chet Walker also poured in 19.3 points a game, while Billy Cunningham was close by with a scoring average of 18.5.
With a final regular-season record of 68-13, the Sixers finished with the best mark in the league. At this time, there were only 10 teams in the NBA.
The Sixers, Celtics, Royals, New York Knicks and Baltimore Bullets made up the Eastern Division, while the San Francisco Warriors, St. Louis Hawks, Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons were in the Western Division.
The Sixers began the 1967 playoffs against the Royals, who were led by Oscar Robertson and Connie Dierking. Philly won in four games behind Greer, who averaged 28.5 points in the quick four-game series.
Next up was the Celtics in the Eastern Division Finals. Wilt versus Bill Russell was the key matchup, but the Sixers also needed to find a way to slow down Celtics superstar John Havlicek.
Philly wound up winning the series in five games despite Havlicek averaging 30.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists. The Sixers were headed to the NBA Finals and many had them as the overwhelming favorite to win it all.
At this point in his career, Wilt had zero championships on his belt. That’s why the 1967 NBA Finals were so important for Chamberlain, who just so happened to be facing the team he started his career with.
The Sixers took on the San Francisco Warriors in the Finals. Philly won Game 1 by a final score of 141-135. Hall of Famer Rick Barry poured in 37 points for the Warriors, but the Philadelphia franchise prevailed behind 32 points from Greer and another 30 from Wai Jones.
The 76ers crushed the Warriors in Game 2. They won 126-95 despite Wilt only scoring 10 points. It was Greer again who led the Sixers in scoring with 30, while Cunningham notched 28.
The Warriors weren’t going to go down quietly, though. They won Game 3 at home to ensure there wouldn’t be a sweep. The Sixers had no answers for Barry, who scored a whopping 55 points. He also had 12 rebounds.
Game 4 is where the Sixers showed their mental toughness and killer instinct. Sensing that the Warriors were on the verge of gaining momentum after their Game 3 win, the 76ers destroyed San Francisco 122-108 to take a commanding 3-1 series win. Greer had 38 points and Chamberlain grabbed 27 rebounds.
The Sixers really didn’t need Wilt to score in this series since Greer was taking care of that on his own.
The 76ers, though, slipped up and weren’t able to close out the series in Game 5 at home, setting up a crucial Game 6 back in San Francisco. The Sixers knew they couldn’t afford to play a Game 7 even if it was going to be at their house. If the Warriors had a two-game winning streak going into Game 7, they would have all the momentum.
Game 6 of the Finals was close throughout, but Wilt and the Sixers prevailed — giving Chamberlain that elusive first title. Wilt finished with 24 points and 23 rebounds, while Jones had 27 to lead the 76ers in scoring.
There was no Finals MVP award back then, but if there was, it probably would have gone to Greer. He averaged 26.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 6.2 assists in the six-game series.
With three championships in franchise history and a total of nine trips to the NBA Finals, the Sixers have had some of the best teams and players the NBA has ever seen. However, the 1966-67 Philly team is hands down the best squad the 76ers have produced in its rich history and the banner proves that.