The NBA Playoffs are always an exciting time as 16 teams ramp up their effort in an attempt to end up in the history books as a champion. It is also these series that I became interested in basketball in the first place. So, without any further adieu, here are my 5 favorite playoff series.
5. 2014 NBA Finals: San Antonio Spurs vs. Miami Heat
The 2014 NBA Finals were arguably one of the most lopsided and anticlimactic, series in Finals history, the San Antonio Spurs avenged the crushing 2013 defeat, demolishing the Miami Heat to win their first title since 2007. Game 1 became known as the busted AC game as the air conditioning in San Antonio went out and LeBron struggled, leading the Spurs to an 110-95 victory.
Game 2 was a 2-point win by the Heat and even then, the Spurs had a three-point look to win the game. This was looking as though the Spurs were in the driver’s seat and they proved it by winning the next 3 games by an average of 18 points. This was the emergence of Kawhi Leonard as he won the finals MVP averaging 18 points 6 rebounds and 2assists, locking down LeBron the whole series. However, what I loved about the series was The Spurs were playing basketball on another level, it was without a doubt the best display of basketball I have ever seen.
The ball movement was excellent (you’d expect that of the Spurs) they played incredible on defense, they wanted it more and they won it. This series was great because it showed that basketball is a team sport, while the Heat had the best player in the world, they lost, big time because the team was not ready to play. Most of those games were not close, but the display that the Spurs put on was beautiful.
4. 2013 Western Conference First Round: Denver Nuggets vs. Golden State Warriors
Back when the Warriors were the darlings of the NBA, they managed to make the playoffs as the 6th seed going up against a 57 win Nuggets team, with the Coach of the Year in George Karl. This was one of the series where it was up in the air as to how was going to win. The Nuggets were the better team heading in however, they did not have a star that could close out games for them. The Warriors were the opposite case, they had a who could close out games for them yet, he lacked the experience to do so.
This series to me and a lot of other NBA experts showed us 1 thing, that when Curry gets it going, he was unstoppable. For the most part, the games were close in this series but, in the 3rd quarter, Curry would erupt and put on a display of shooting that would decimate and derail the Nuggets. In some of those games, he would score at least 20 in the 3rd. It was a prelude to what the 2 time MVP was capable of, and in this series he lead them to a 4-2 series victory.
3. 2016 NBA Finals: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors
Frankly, the last 3 games in this series were exciting. The first four were the Warriors blowing out the Cavs and in one case, the Cavs blowing out the Warriors. That changed starting in game 5, as Kyrie and LeBron became the 1st pair of teammates to score 40+ points in a game in the Finals, breathing life back into the series.
In game 6, LeBron put together another 40+ game to lead the Cavs to a game 7 deathmatch in the Bay. In game 7, James put together a triple-double and had the biggest block in NBA history. A chase down block (that is impossible for anyone else) on Iggy, followed by the dagger 3-pointer by Kyrie Irving, as he pulls Curry to sleep, elevates fires and scores. This historic series game Cleveland it 1st major sports title since the 50s and LeBron his 3rd, cementing him as one of the greatest players to ever lace them up.
2. 2010 NBA Finals: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics
This series was an ode to the Heyday of the Lakers-Celtics rivalry in the 1980s. A series that was dragged out to 7 games, and became more and more physical and intense as it dragged on. The Lakers and Celts split the 1st 4 games and heading into game 6, the Lakers saw themselves down 3-2, having lost game five in Boston. The structure of the series was different this year so games 6 and 7 were in LA and the Lakers held the Celtics to 67 in game 6. Game 7 of this series was like a championship boxing match in its 15th round and whoever threw the one good punch was going to win.
In game 7 it looked like the Celtics were going to do just that. However, the Lakers turned it around with all around team play and won the game 83-79. No one played well this game, Kobe shot 6-24, Pierce shot 5-15, Allen 3-14. It was not pretty but, it was fun to watch. June 17th 2010, the day in which Kobe earned his 5th title.
1. 2009 Eastern Conference First Round: Boston Celtics vs. Chicago Bulls
This series was amazing, this is the series that got me into basketball. This series dragged on to 7 games, but my God, it was entertaining. The 2nd seed Celtics, fresh off a title win the previous season, vs. a young 7th seed Bulls team, led by star rookie point guard, Derrick Rose. In Game 1, Rose scored 36 points in his playoff debut, tying Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, for most points in a playoff debut by a rookie, leading the Bulls to a 105-103 overtime victory in Boston. Game 2 was a showdown between two UConn sharpshooters, Ray Allen and Ben Gordon, in which Allen got the better of him.
Game 3 was supposed to be a celebration for the Bulls as Derrick Rose was given his Rookie of the Year trophy, yet the Celtics beat them by 21. The next three games were all close and all went into overtime, Game 4, a double-overtime thriller in which the Bulls won 121-118, Game 5 was an overtime win for Boston, 106-104. Game 6 was a triple-overtime 128-127 and Bulls win in Chicago to force a game 7. Game 7 ended up being a 10-point Celtic win. This series had it all, 4 OT games, intensity, high scoring, and a display by a budding young star. It was perfect (except for the result, I was rooting for the Bulls).