Year of the
The Western Conference champion Portland Trail Blazers played against the Eastern Conference champion Philadelphia 76ers, with the 76ers holding home-court advantage. The 1976–77 NBA season started with the ABA–NBA merger. Portland had benefited from the resulting ABA dispersal draft as they acquired Spirits of St. Louis power forward Maurice Lucas to partner with Bill Walton, and Philadelphia had signed ABA All-Star and 3-time ABA MVP Julius "Dr. J" Erving, who had taken the New York Nets to the ABA title the previous year. While it was no surprise that Philadelphia had made it to the championship series, having posted the best record in the east (50-32), Portland's appearance in the finals was a mild surprise. Portland, a team that was founded only seven years earlier, was not only making its playoff debut with its first winning season (49-33, #3), but it was also making its finals debut as well after sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers in four close games in the Western Conference Finals.