=== Setting the scene ===
This season began in the wake of the remarkable victory of the Los Angeles Lakers, who ended an agonizing decade of runner-up finishes with their first NBA title on the West Coast. It was also the first Laker title since George Mikan over fifteen years previous. That title had come after a tremendous Western Conference Finals with Milwaukee and their superstar center, [[Kareem Abdul-Jabbar]], the former title-winning Lew Alcindor. Their rematch in the playoffs figured to decide the next championship just as it had the last two. The East, clearly the dominant half of the league for so long, looked to be the weaker half again at the start of this season as they had the last two years.
=== Eastern Conference ===