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Bill Russell.

Did the 1965 Boston Celtics pave the way for the Golden State Warriors of today?

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On March 14, 1965, The Boston Celtics became the first NBA team to reach 61 wins in a season, following a 106-98 win over San Francisco.

The legendary Bill Russell led the way with a jaw-dropping 40 rebounds and 20 points. Although Boston would only go on to win one more game during that regular season, they did end up NBA champions after defeating the Philadelphia 76ers in the finals 4-3.

Of course, the current NBA Champions, the Golden State Warriors, are a mere two wins away from that feat right now. Boasting a record of 59-6, the Warriors are in hot pursuit of the Chicago Bulls' 1995-96 regular season record of 72-10.

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But, the Celtics were the first to set the pace.

Many things have changed in the NBA since the Celtics claimed their seventh Larry O'Brien trophy of what has gone on to be an historic 17 titles.

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The three-point line wasn't even a factor until it's inception in 1979. Throughout the 1980's the NBA would attempt to evolve with little nuances to many of their rules that spanned many different corners of the game.

Much of these changes were subject to trial and error, like decreasing the number of referees for any contest from three down to two at the beginning of the decade, before reverting back to three officials by the end of it.

However, since 1990, the NBA has instituted a number of rule changes designed to help offense thrive and penalise physical and robust play.

K.C. Jones head coach of the Boston Celtics

The litany of changes in that decade has come to shape the league to what is it is today. An increased penalties for flagrant fouls and fighting were the first to be clamped down on.

Those were swiftly followed by the implementation of the "five points" rule that called for automatic suspensions of players who garnered a certain number of flagrant fouls. By 1994, one of the biggest defensive tools in hand-checking had been eliminated. Using the forearm to defend players facing the basket would follow suit in 1997, and the landscape of the NBA had totally changed.

Then-San Antonio Spurs player, now-L.A Clippers coach, Doc Rivers, saw the signs and didn't like them.

"The first year, they took my hand check away," Rivers said "The next year, they took our forearm away. And then, I retired. I was done. I was like, 'I've got to move my feet? I quit. This is no fun anymore.'"

San Antonio Spurs v Boston Celtics

One could argue that the offence-centric league favours the deep shooting of the Warriors today. Behind the 'Splash Bros', Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, Golden State have dominated the in the last couple of years by stretching the floor and proving deadly when shooting from the perimeter.

However, an argument that carries equal weight insists the Celtics did it the hard way. It was a tougher, more physical league when they soared to 61 wins. To succeed in the face of such arduous, physical demands is especially impressive, especially with a roster of 12.

That Celtics outfit was named as one of the Top 10 Teams in NBA History, as well as featuring five hall of famers, three of which went on to be named on the 50 Greatest Players of All-Time list.

K.C. Jones, Sam Jones, Tom Heinsohn, Bill Russell, and John Havlicek, are the illustrious names to reside in the hall of fame, and Russell is quite rightly regarded as one of the best to ever lace up his sneakers.

Foot Locker Three-Point Contest 2016

Are there any parallels between that Celtics side and the Warriors of today? Is Curry the modern-day catalyst in the same vein as Russell? Do Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala have the ability to go on and become hall of fame talents? Or are they excellent cogs in the seemingly perfectly fitted Golden State machine?

Whatever your opinion, one thing we know for sure is that the Celtics were the team to set the bar. It's down to Curry and co. to take that mantle and redefine basketball again.

Topics:
Eastern Conference
NBA
Golden State Warriors
Pacific Division
Western Conference
Boston Celtics
Atlantic Division
Stephen Curry

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