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The most unlikely NBA Playoff victories in basketball history

Steve Shoup

Basketball is still one of the biggest sports in America and loved by millions of fans. One of the most exciting points in any NBA season is the Playoffs, where the top eight teams in each conference battle it out in a tournament-style competition. This eventually leads to the famed NBA Finals and the eventual winners claiming the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.


The Playoff and NBA Finals games have seen some spectacular and wholly unexpected victories over the years. From underdogs upsetting favorites and number one seeds being dumped out, there has been some great action here in NBA history.


Indeed, some may say that the Playoffs are a real lottery and certainly something to tread carefully with if you decide to bet on them now that sports gambling is legal in many US states. Many basketball fans in places including New Jersey may instead decide to look elsewhere for some online gambling fun when this point of the season arrives. From a top NJ online casino to other online operators in Vegas, you may well have better odds winning on slots rather than calling the Playoff games correctly!


To show just why this is, here are some of the greatest upsets and victories in NBA Playoff history that no one saw coming!


2007 Western Conference – Warriors crush Mavericks


Maybe the most unlikely victory in NBA Playoff history was this one in 2007. It saw the unfancied Golden State Warriors hand out a real lesson to the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference First Round. The Mavericks were seeded as number one and the Warriors a lowly eighth. Whether this made the Mavericks complacent, no one knows, but they certainly got a shock when play started on court. This is especially true when you remember that the Mavs were Championship favorites that year and the Warriors only just got into the Playoffs! Key players for the Warriors were Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson, who led their team to a shock series win.


1994 Western Conference – Denver beat Seattle


The Seattle Supersonics team of 1994 was full of big names such as Gary Payton. This and their amazing 63-19 record for the season saw them as hot favorites in this Playoff match-up. However, it did not turn out as planned for them! It looked like an easy win for Seattle against the eighth-seeded Nuggets, but Denver pulled off a real shock victory. Things looked good for the Supersonics initially as they raced to a 2-0 series lead, but it soon went south. Game Five was the memorable one, with Dikembe Mutombo scoring to force overtime with only 0.5 seconds left!


2004 NBA Finals – Lakers choke to lose it


The Los Angeles Lakers team in 03/04 had some really amazing players to call on. From Shaquille O’Neal to Kobe Bryant, they should have made light work of the NBA Finals that year. They did not reckon with the Detroit Pistons though, who bucked the odds to pull off a superb victory and claim the Championship. Key to Detroit’s triumph was their sheer lack of fear for more illustrious opponents and their sturdy defense. This allowed them to shackle the Lakers much-talked-about offense and claim the overall victory in only five games.


2011 NBA Finals – heat is too much for Miami


Another surprising victory from the NBA Finals happened in 2011. This saw the much-fancied Miami Heat fall to the less-backed Dallas Mavericks. 2011 was right when the Heat had their “Big Three” era, though it was the way that these stars didn’t gel as a team that eventually cost them. The veteran Mavericks team was the complete opposite and showed that a team is always more than the sum of its parts. With Jason Kidd and Jason Terry stealing the show, the Mavs took it home in six games.


1984 Eastern Conference – NJ Nets claim big scalp


This shock victory for the New Jersey Nets came from the First Round Eastern Conference Playoffs in 1984. They were playing the Philadelphia 76ers, who were expected to repeat their title win from the previous year. Indeed, the 76ers were in great 12-1 form going into the Playoffs, which only seemed to confirm the likely result. They did not reckon with a young, hungry and aggressive New Jersey team who were not afraid to take the game to them. In the end, the Nets won the series by taking the decisive match on Philadelphia’s home soil.


Some great victories over the years


One of the really great things about sports is that you never know what may happen. These shock victories from the NBA Playoffs showcase this perfectly. In all of them, the team that won looked set to have no chance against seemingly superior opposition. The fact that they overcame this to triumph sums up why sport is so thrilling and entertaining.



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