Throughout the life of an NBA team there have been some glorious moments like winning a championship or having the 1st Draft Pick, but the other times there are bad moments, like blowing a 3-1 lead. I hope this article can provide some insight into some NBA teams that have simply just choked… real bad.
10. Chicago Bulls, 2011 Eastern Conference Finals
The Chicago Bulls winning ways were back in 2011, for the first time since 1998 they reached the Eastern Conference Finals. They finished the regular season with a Conference-best 62-20 win-loss record. The Bulls had 22-Year-Old MVP, Derrick Rose.
Chicago took the first game then lost 4 consecutive games. The Bulls had a chance to play a game 6 in Miami. They led by 12 points with less than four minutes to play. Miami then took control of the game and crawled back to win 83-80.
9. Washington Bullets, 1975 NBA Finals
The Washington Bullets (Now Washington Wizards) had an outstanding regular season record of 60-22 record. Future Hall of Famers Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld played for the Bullets while the Warriors had really only one star, small forward Rick Barry (another future Hall of Famer). The Warriors ended up with a 48-34 record.
To anyone with common sense, it would seem that the Bullets were favorites in this Finals Series. However, Golden State went on to sweep the Bullets, 4-0. Barry averaged 35 ppg in the Series and went on to win Finals MVP. This is arguably the first ‘choke’ in an NBA Finals Series ever.
8. Portland Trail Blazers, 2000 Western Conference Finals
The Blazers had been out to make the NBA Finals for the first time in 8 years. The 1999 Western Conference Finals saw the San Antonio Spurs sweep the Blazers, so Portland were more than determined to win this Series. The Lakers, the Blazers opponent in the Conference Finals almost blew a lead in this series as well!
Los Angeles were 3-1 up in the Series and then Portland managed to keep the Series alive by forcing a Game 6 and then 7. With 10 minutes left in the 4th quarter the Blazers led by 15 points. This lead however, did not last long as the Kobe/Shaq Lakers managed to get the lead back and win the Game 7, 89-84. The famous Kobe alley-oop to Shaquille O’Neal happened with 40 seconds left of the Game 7 and made the lead secure.
7. Los Angeles Clippers, 2015 Western Conference Semifinals
The Clippers led by Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan were meant to be good. They beat the Spurs in the first round and then advanced to play Houston, a team that was nowhere near as good as them. But you know, things happen and the Clippers blew a 3-1 lead to Houston and Chris Paul still hasn’t made the Conference Finals in his 13-year career.
This was the 9th time in NBA history that a team has recovered from a 3-1 deficit. James Harden and the Rockets went insane in the 3rd and 4th quarters of Game 6 going on a 51-20 run and recovering from a 19 point deficit.
6. Dallas Mavericks, 2006 NBA Finals
The Mavericks played the Miami Heat in the 2006 Finals with Dallas winning the first two games. There form just somehow stopped with Miami taking the next four games to win the series 4-2. Dwyane Wade from the Heat was named Most Valuable Player of the series. Miami also had star center, Shaquille O’Neal who averaged 10.2 rebounds a game in the series. The Mavericks won 60 games in the regular season while Miami won 52.
5. Oklahoma City Thunder, 2016 Western Conference Finals
This series is probably best know as the ‘unknown 3-1 lead blown of 2016’. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook teamed up against the 73 win Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. The Thunder went 3-1 up and then lost the next 3.
This series had Draymond Green kicking Steven Adams ‘down under’ and saw Kevin Durant play his last games in OKC. Overall this series was an entertaining one but the matter of the fact is, Oklahoma blew a 3-1 lead.
4. Miami Heat, 2011 NBA Finals
A 58 win Miami Heat would face a 57 win Dallas Mavericks in a fierce NBA Finals series. The Miami Heat had built a superteam, whether you like it or not. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, all more than likely future Hall of Famers. Dallas had Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd. Miami led 2-1 at one stage before Dallas took control of the series and won 4-2.
This may not seem like a choke at first glance but when you have LeBron, Wade and Bosh all on the same team, you expect big things like forcing a Game 7 or even winning the thing! Dirk won MVP and this series continued to fuel there ever long rivalry.
3. Dallas Mavericks, 2007 First Round
The 2006/07 Dallas Mavericks had the best record at the conclusion of the NBA regular season finishing with a win/loss record of 67-15. They finished with the top seed in the Western Conference and would play the 8th seeded Golden State Warriors who finished the season with 42-40.
Golden State, the 8th seeded team surprisingly won against the Dallas Mavericks with the series finishing 4-2. Baron Davis starred for the Warriors in each game of the series but especially in Game 1 finishing with 33 pts, 14 rebs and 8 asts.
2. Seattle SuperSonics, 1994 First Round
An amazing season for the Seattle Sonics finished with a humiliating first round exit against the Denver Nuggets. The Sonics clinched the top seed in the West and finished with 63 wins.
The Nuggets, led by Dikembe Mutombo had only 42 wins throughout the regular season. Seattle clinched the first two games at home and then lost the next 3 with Denver winning the series 3-2 (the first round in 1994 was a 5 game series) and becoming the first 8th seed to beat the 1st seed in playoff history.
1. Golden State Warriors, 2016 NBA Finals
The most recent and biggest ‘choke’ ever. Stephen Curry led the Golden State Warriors who finished the season with 73 wins and 9 losses against the LeBron James led Cavaliers in an extremely anticipated finals series. The year before, Golden State beat the Cavs in the Finals and so in 2016, all eyes were on this series. The first 4 games swung in Golden State’s favor, with the Warriors leading 3-1. We all know what happened next. Stephen Curry the reigning MVP slumped, averaging a mere 3.7 assists per game while LeBron led the Cavs to a Game 7 and then won the Game 7 with Kyrie Irving hitting a clutch 3pt shot with 55 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter.
In summary, no NBA team can ever be guaranteed a win, even if you win 73 games in a season.