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Against The Odds: The Greatest Upsets In NBA History


Basketball can be a fairytale one minute and a nightmare the next. Great minds can come to life on the court, or fade away when the moment comes. Moments of madness can produce unbelievable stories. We live for these little watershed moments, when unlikely heroes collide, great partnerships blossom and sharp instincts kick in.

One thing all basketball fans can agree on is a love of the underdog victory. The more unlikely the victor seems, the more of a David vs Goliath battle, the more preposterous the odds – the better the spectacle.

For those people that like a flutter, NBA betting can finally seem worth the while when you pick that plucky and heroic team that defies the bookmakers' predictions.

Basketball is no stranger to heroic tales of underdog triumph. Here are four of the greatest (and most satisfying) upsets in NBA history.

The Washington Bullets Defeat The Philadelphia 76ers – 1978.

To this day, the Washington Bullets are the worst-performing team to ever win the NBA playoffs. The Bullets had had a rather dismal season, finishing the regular set of games with a record of 44-38. Despite being the underdogs because of their record during the season, the Bullets were still a force to be reckoned with – featuring a front line of West Unseld, Bobby Dandridge, and Elvin Hayes.

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They were a team built for the playoffs, and although they suffered defensively during the regular season, they cut through the 76ers like a knife through butter. Very satisfying indeed.

The Denver Nuggets Defeat The Seattle Supersonics – 1994

The Denver Nuggets entered the 1994 Western playoffs as distinct outsiders. In the quarter-finals, they came up against the absolutely rampant Seattle Supersonics, who had ended the regular season with a record-breaking 63-19 record.

The Nuggets lost their first two games against the Supersonics as many had expected, but then won three in a row in an incredibly unlikely turnaround.

The Detroit Pistons Defeat The Los Angeles Lakers – 2004

The Los Angeles Lakers came into the NBA finals of 2004 with an absolutely star-studded squad. Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone, and Gary Payton all played for the Lakers, who were the bookmakers’ favorites throughout the tournament. The Pistons were a less glamorous team: largely made up of older players.

They absolutely dominated the mighty Lakers in what has become known as the ‘five-game sweep’. The victory was celebrated on the front page of the Detroit Free Press. R-E-S-P-E-C-T, read the newsprint, honoring both the sporting prowess of the Pistons and the musical heritage of Detroit. 2004 was a dark time for Detroit, but their unlikely victory in the NBA finals was a little glimmer of hope.

The Memphis Grizzlies Defeat The San Antonio Spurs – 2011

The 2011 Western Quarter Final Series was the first playoff series that the Grizzlies had ever won – and it was highly unlikely. The tough, defensive play style of the Memphis team broke down the attacking-minded Spurs, winning the series 4-2 in one of the greatest upsets in NBA playoff history.