Top 10 Biggest Upsets In NBA Playoff History

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Fadeaway World

Fadeaway World

As the Playoffs are already in motion, we’ve already witnessed a couple of upsets during Game 1's of the first round, with the Utah Jazz defeating the Los Angeles Clippers at the buzzer and the Chicago Bulls stunning a brokenhearted Isaiah Thomas and his Boston Celtics.

However, it’s quite unlikely that both teams keep this pace up and win their respective rounds after stealing home court advantage, although pretty much anything can happen when the best players in the world face each other.

Furthermore, those games made us remember some of the greatest upsets in NBA Playoffs history, so let’s take a walk down memory lane and take a look at the top 10 NBA Playoff upsets in league history.

10. Charlotte Hornets vs. Miami Heat 2001

You’d definitely hope a team that featured Bruce Bowen, Eddie Jones, Tim Hardaway and Alonzo Mourning would be quite dominant and unstoppable, but the Miami Heat simply couldn’t handle the Hornets in 2001, being swept 3 games to 0 in the first round of the playoffs.

So, Baron Davis did it again, averaging 20.3 points, 4.7 boards and 5 assists to go along with Mashburn’s 23.7 points, 6 rebounds and 4.7 helpers to lead the way before losing in 7 games against the Milwaukee Bucks.

9. Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics 2010

Just one year after losing in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Orlando Magic, LeBron was determined to go back to the promised land and take the trophy home after being seeded first overall. Nevertheless, he had to fight Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo for it, with the fourth-seeded Celtics demolishing the Cavs in 6 games before losing the Finals in 7 against the Lakers.

That heartbreaking loss made The King “take his talents” to South Beach, starting one of the biggest soap operas in sports history to play alongside Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, and the rest is history.

8. Memphis Grizzlies vs. San Antonio Spurs 2011

Ginobili, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Popovich went past everybody during the regular season, posting an outstanding record of 66 wins and just 16 losses, being seeded first overall and having to face the eighth seeded Memphis Grizzlies.

Nevertheless, the defensive trident of Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and Zach Randolph was too much to handle for the Spurs, defeating them in 6 games just to fall in the next round against a team that once featured James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Kevin Durant; the Oklahoma City Thunder.

7. Orlando Magic vs Cleveland Cavaliers 2009

LeBron James was keen to go back to the NBA Finals to have another shot at giving the city of Cleveland a championship, but Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu and Dwight Howard were pretty much unstoppable during this series, which the Magic wound up taking 4 games to 2.

Of course, it was probably a lot to handle for a Cleveland team that didn’t have much to offer besides James, and patience was starting to run out for The King and the entire Cleveland organization.

6. Memphis Grizzlies vs. Oklahoma City Thunder 2013

Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka had another run at the Championship, although it was once again Conley, Gasol and Randolph the ones to get in the way of one of the best teams in the NBA.

So, after barely winning the first game at home, it went all down for Scott Brooks and his first-seeded Thunder, losing 4 games in a row against Memphis and missing what might as well would be their last shot at the title, leaving the road wide open for LeBron James and his Miami Heat.

5. Detroit Pistons vs. Los Angeles Lakers 2004

Everybody pretty much expected a confident and dominant performance from the Los Angeles Lakers, being the clear favorites to take the trophy home, but the fierce Pistons thought otherwise and wound up defeating the Lakers 4 games to 1.

The Lakers had their “Fab Four” featuring Gary Payton, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone and Shaquille O'Neal, but Chauncey Billups, Ben and Rasheed Wallace and Rip Hamilton completely outplayed a team that had a lot of stars but zero chemistry.

4. Dallas Mavericks vs. Los Angeles Lakers 2011

After the Spurs loss against Memphis, the Lakers were the clear frontrunners in the West to at least reach the NBA Finals, but an inspired Mavericks team featuring Jason Terry, Tyson Chandler, Shawn Marion and of course, Dirk Nowitzki was just unstoppable through the entire season.

The Mavs wound up sweeping Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum, earning the right to fight with the Thunder for a spot in the NBA Finals, eventually defeating the Miami Heat in 6 games and becoming NBA Champions.

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3. Miami Heat vs New York Knicks 1998

Just like the Denver Nuggets did, the New York Knicks wound up upsetting the second-seeded Miami Heat after barely making the playoffs at all, defeating the Miami Heat in 5 games before being completely humiliated by Reggie Miller and the Indiana Pacers.

However, even if they had classified there wasn’t much left to do, as they’d have to try and beat the best team in NBA history, featuring Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and of course, Michael Jeffrey Jordan.

2. Denver Nuggets vs. Seattle SuperSonics 1994

The Sonics were one of the main favorites to reach the NBA Finals during the 1994 season, but the eighth-seeded Denver Nuggets shocked them (and pretty much everybody else), defeating them in their own house and becoming the first eighth seed to ever upset a first-seeded team.

Neither Gary Payton nor Shawn Kemp could stop Dikembe Mutombo from completely dominating both ends of the floor, after winning 63 regular season games. Sadly, the Nuggets fell against the Jazz in the following round.

1. Dallas Mavericks vs. Golden State Warriors 2007

The eighth-seeded Golden State Warriors were just getting back into the Playoffs for the first time since 1994, and they weren’t considered a threat for the leaders in the West, Dirk Nowitzki’s Dallas Mavericks after winning 67 games in the regular season.

Nevertheless, Stephen Jackson and an injured Baron Davis had other things to say, beating the Mavericks 4 games to 2, including a blowout win of 111-86 in Oracle Arena, leaving the path wide open for Tony Parker and the San Antonio Spurs to eventually become NBA champions.