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Top five NBA Playoffs first round upsets
The first couple days of the NBA Playoffs provided plenty of sizzle and storylines, chiefly the number of upsets and near-surprises that were featured, especially that the top seed Spurs and Lakers both fell. It marked the first time the top two seeds in a conference fell in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
Though far from over, a win by the lower seeded Grizzlies or Hornets would prove to be among the greatest upsets in NBA playoff history.
So what are the greatest upsets in NBA's First Round playoff history? Below is a list of the top 5, in descending order.
5. Houston (6) over Utah (3), 1995
On the surface, this was a major upset, considering the Jazz won 60 games while the Rockets won 47 games. But a closer examination reveals that Houston was the defending champion, featured Hakeem Olajuwon in his prime as well as a still very game Clyde Drexler. Still, winning in Salt Lake City is still never an easy task but one Houston pulled doff twice, including in Game 5 when they rallied from a 12 point third quarter deficit to take a late lead and hold on for a 95-91 win and a 3-2 series win on the way to their second consecutive title.
4. New York (8) over Miami (1), 1999
Just like above, this appeared to be a mismatch but because of the Knicks-Heat rivalry at the time and the fact that the Lockout shortened season of 1999 didn't allow the Knicks to work out all their kinks, New York was an 8 seed by definition only.
Thanks to an Allan Houston(notes) shot in the final seconds that bounced off the rim, off the backboard and in and the Knicks became the second 8-seed to defeat a 1-seed and currently one of three (see below). The Knicks won the game 78-77 to win the series 3-2. They would advance to the NBA Finals later in the postseason.
3. Charlotte Hornets (6) over Miami (3), 2001
There was almost nothing to suggest that the 46-36 Hornets stood any chance against the veteran 50-32 Heat but shockingly, the then-Charlotte Hornets took 3 easy games over Heat to advance to the second round for only the third time in franchise history.
2. Golden State (8) over Dallas (1), 2006
The rationale for not putting this number one is that the Warriors were known to be a bad matchup for the Mavericks, who went 67-15 that year. Still, the way Golden State out and out took apart the Mavs was quite a sight to see and Baron Davis(notes) became a superstar overnight. And with a crowd starved to see playoff basketball after not having seen their Warriors have a winning record since 1994, Oracle Arena was rocking as the Warriors completed their 6 game stunner of Dallas with a 111-86 win.
1. Denver (8) over Seattle, 1994
The original 1-8 stunner, Denver (42-40) rallied from a 2-0 hole to force a game 5 with top seed Seattle. Despite not playing their best and plenty of shot clock violations, the Nuggets blew a late fourth quarter lead but survived in overtime 98-94, with the iconic image of Dikembe Mutumbo clinging to the ball and yelling while on the ground after the win.
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