The NBA season is long and hard, with teams facing each other 82 times. Then, after that grueling schedule, those who finish at the top have to play in the postseason playoffs. It has taken a Herculean effort from some teams to make it, and their reward is the number eight seeding, guaranteeing they play the best team in the league. Still, that’s what gives us the best NBA Playoff upsets ever.
Memphis Grizzlies stun the Spurs – 2011
The Grizzlies and Spurs traded the first two games until the Memphis side found their feet. When the Grizzlies won the first game of the series, it was their very first playoff victory ever. As they went on to stun the Spurs, it became their first time advancing to the next round. The Grizzlies took the series 4-2 but couldn’t get any further in the playoffs. Their gritty play meant they led the league in steals that season, a tactic which gave them an edge over most teams.
76ers shatter Bulls dreams – 2012
Heading into the playoffs, the Bulls had the best winning percentage at .758. They had been sweeping everyone aside, but the 76ers would not be denied and managed to win the series despite losing the first game.
The Bulls were dominant that season and looked to have turned back the clock, but the 76rs had a fighting spirit that saw them overcome the odds. Philadelphia’s strength came in their togetherness, and when Jrue Holiday stepped up in the series, it helped them over the line against the Bulls.
Golden State buck the Mavericks – 2007
The Dallas Mavericks had made it to the NBA Finals the season before and were looking to go one step further this time in 2007. Golden State were expected to wilt under Mavericks pressure as the Dallas side had blown everyone away in the league.
Dallas’ winning percentage of .817 meant no one expected Golden State to win, especially as they were thrown together with a merry band of players. The Warriors took a 3-1 lead in the series, but Dallas fought back to 3-2. On home ground in the sixth game, the Warriors had too much for the Mavericks, beating them 111-86 and moving on to the next round.
Knicks throw water on the Heat – 1999
Miami Heat were given the first seeding and the Knicks the eighth after sneaking into a playoff place at the end of the regular season. Being the eighth seed sparked something in the Knicks players as they took the series against the Heat 3-2. The Knicks were inspired when they got to the playoffs and made it all the way to the NBA Final, losing to the Spurs. They became one of only a handful of eighth seeds to make it all the way to the NBA Final.
Upsetting the odds is what makes us all love sports. Knowing that despite the strength of some teams there is still a chance they could lose as everyone else roots for the underdog. Thankfully, the underdogs occasionally have their day.