The 2014 NBA playoffs have started and there are already some potential upsets in the making. The number one seed in the East, the Indiana Pacers, started the playoffs with a loss to a team with a losing record, the Atlanta Hawks. In the Western Conference where all the teams have better than average winning records, there are plenty of matchups that could go either way. The potential for the big upset is alive and throughout history, there have been some memorable upsets in the NBA playoff lore.
Remember Memphis and their win against the San Antonio Spurs in 2011? In modern times, there have been a few instances where the number eight seed has beat the top seed. In these cases, the number one seed has looked like the team to beat in not only their particular conference, but the NBA as well. In other cases, the underdog was good enough to make it to the NBA Finals and still lacked the respect to be considered a legitimate threat.
Many people enjoy the underdog and the following underdogs battled all odds to overcome the favorites that they faced. Here is a look at the top ten modern day upsets n the NBA playoffs.
10 (8) New York Knicks over (1) Miami Heat (1999)
The Miami Heat finished the strike-shortened season of 1998-1999 tied for the best record in the Eastern Conference at 33-17. The Heat had a talented roster with Tim Hardaway, Alonzo Mourning, Jamal Mashburn, Dan Majerle, P.J. Brown, Clarence Witherspoon and Terry Porter and appeared to be ready for a good playoff run. They even had a deep bench with veteran players up and down the roster. The Heat seemed like a favorite to make it to the NBA Finals as the Eastern Conference representative.
9 (8) Philadelphia 76ers over (1) Chicago Bulls (2012)
In the lockout shortened 2011-2012 NBA season, the Bulls were looking like the team to beat throughout the season. Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Richard Hamilton and Joakim Noa were a mixture of talented players that played well together. The Bulls finished with a 50-16 record (.758 winning percentage) and the number one seeding in the Eastern Conference. Derrick Rose, the reigning NBA MVP, averaged 21.8 points and 7.9 assists per game during the season to position the Bulls for a title run.
8 (4) Boston Celtics over (1) Cleveland Cavaliers (2010)
The Cleveland Cavaliers entered 2009 with the sting of the loss to the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals the previous season. They traded for Shaquille O'Neal and Antawn Jamison in an effort to surround LeBron James with some more capable scorers. Mo Williams, Delonte West and Anderson Varejao also came through with solid seasons and the Cavaliers finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference at 61-21. James had a terrific season, averaging 29.7 points, 8.6 assists and 7.3 rebounds per game, while shooting over 50% from the field (50.3%).
7 (3) Dallas Mavericks over (2) Miami Heat (2011)
The Miami Heat had the big off-season acquisitions of LeBron James and Chris Bosh which helped make them prohibitive favorites to win the NBA Championship in 2011. LeBron James fit right in, averaging 26.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game, while Dwyane Wade added 25.5 points per game and Chris Bosh finished the season averaging 18.7 points per game. The "big three" led Miami to a 58-24 record and the number two seeding in the Eastern Conference.
6 (3) Orlando Magic over (1) Cleveland Cavaliers (2009)
The 2008-2009 Cleveland Cavaliers were 66-16 (.805 winning percentage) and looked like the team to beat in the NBA during the season. LeBron James had established himself as an NBA star and was surrounded with a cast of complementary players in Mo Williams, Zydrunas Ilgauskus, Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak, Ben Wallace, Daniel Gibson and Anderson Varejao. Even their coach, Mike Brown, was the NBA's coach of the year.
5 (3) Detroit Pistons over (2) LA Lakers (2004)
In 2003-2004, the Los Angeles Lakers were loaded with talented veterans who were looking to put rings on their fingers. Karl Malone and Gary Payton joined Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant to produce a team full of future Hall of Famers. Although Malone and Payton struggled to adapt to the "triangle offense" run by the Lakers and coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers still finished with the second best record in the Western Conference (56-26).
4 (6) Houston Rockets over (1) Orlando Magic (1995)
In 1994-1995, the Orlando Magic had what was probably their most talented team ever with Penny Hardaway, Shaquille O'Neal, Horace Grant and Nick Anderson. They finished the season with the best record in the Eastern Conference (57-25) and a 39-2 home record which tied for the second best home record in NBA history. O'Neal was unstoppable during the regular season, averaging 29.3 points and 11.4 rebounds per game.
3 (8) Memphis Grizzlies over (1) San Antonio Spurs (2011)
The 2010-2011 San Antonio Spurs had the best record in the Western Conference at 61-21 (.744 winning percentage) and were the top seed in the West. Led be the ageless Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, the Spurs also had a mixture of youth and experience with George Hill, Gary Neal, DeJuan Blair and Richard Jefferson. The Spurs were remarkably consistent during the season and had the veteran players who knew what was necessary to make a push in the playoffs.
2 (8) Denver Nuggets over (1) Seattle Supersonics (1994)
The 1993-94 Seattle Supersonics were one of the best NBA teams to ever exit in a first round series. Their 63-19 record (.768 winning percentage) was a franchise best and good enough for the Western Conference's best record during the season as well. The team was loaded with talented players like Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton, Detlef Schrempf, Nate McMillan, Kendall Gill and Sam Perkins. All six of these players averaged over 10 points per game during the regular season.
1 (8) Golden State Warriors over (1) Dallas Mavericks (2007)
The 2006-2007 Dallas Mavericks were virtually unstoppable during the regular season, finishing with the best record in the Western Conference at 67-15 (.817 winning percentage). The Mavericks had Dirk Nowitzki playing in his prime, surrounded by Jason Terry, Jerry Stackhouse, Devin Harris, Josh Howard and many other key players. Nowitzki was the NBA's most valuable player that season and Josh Howard was selected as an All-Star. The Mavericks were looking to improve from the previous season where they made it to the NBA Finals and lost to the Miami Heat.
The Golden State Warriors came in as the number eight seed, using a 16-5 run at the end of the season to be lucky enough to make it into the playoffs. Baron Davis, Al Harrington, Stephen Jackson, Monta Ellis and Jason Richardson were all offensively gifted players who played with attitudes and could heat up at any time. In the first round of the 2006-2007 playoffs, they did just that and upset the Dallas Mavericks. The Warriors won Game 6 and the series by defeating the Mavericks by 25 points, behind Stephen Jackson's 7 three-pointers.
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