Although the Phoenix Suns were the 2 seed in the west, and people talked about the Milwaukee Bucks, it safe to say that we’re all at least a little surprised by this finals matchup.
So in honor of the great season that these teams are having, let’s go through some of the most surprising rosters in recent history to reach the NBA finals. What up everybody, my name is Stefan and this is Heat Check. Let’s get into it.
Starting off with the 1 and only number 8 seed to ever play in the finals. My New York Knicks.
Sure, the 1999 season was a lockout shortened one but still, that doesn’t take away the achievement of this group led by Patrick Ewing and the young additions of Allan Houston and Latrell Spewell.
In a legendary 1 vs 8 first round series against their arch rival and nemesis the Miami Heat, they knew that it would be tough, and they would need to fight hard and dig deep in order to win.
In that iconic battle, it all came down to a deciding game and 1 last shot. Houston curls, floats it up, front rim, backboard and in, shocking the entire arena as they became the first 8 seeded team to knock out a number 1.
Still on a high from that huge win, the Knicks rolled past Atlanta in a second round sweep, to set up a conference finals showdown with another famous New York enemy. Reggie Miller and the Indiana Pacers.
This series gave us another unforgettable shot in game 3. With the Knicks down 3 and little time left, they gave the ball to Larry Johnson, and the rest is history. As he converted the 4 point play, they went up 2-1 in the series, a lead that they wouldn’t give up. Ultimately clinching in 6, the New York Knicks stunned the basketball world as they secured a place in the NBA finals against Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs. Playing without Patrick Ewing who got injured in the Pacers series, the Knicks were no match for Duncan and Robinson as the Spurs won their first of 5 championships. Still, this improbable playoff run by the 8 seeded Knicks will live forever in NBA history.
Next, we got the 2007 Cleveland Cavaliers. And this collection of players that Lebron James was able to drag all the way to the finals, is possibly the best example of his greatness.
I mean look at this image. First of all, ask yourself how many of these guys you recognize, and then out of those, how many do you know just because they played on this roster alongside Lebron? I mean seriously, where did Boobie Gibson play after Cleveland? What happened to Damon Jones? Drew Gooden… Wooow no disrespect but all credit to James for this one.
Anyway the Cavaliers finished second in the east this season and blew past Washington in the first round sweeping them in 4 games.
In the second, they faced the trio of Jason Kidd, Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson, but took care of business in 6 games, setting up an anticipated matchup against the 1 seeded Detroit Pistons.
And game 5 of that series will forever be remembered as the moment when Lebron James officially became the king.
In a pivotal game with the series tied at 2, Lebron looked like a man possessed in the 4th quarter and overtime, scoring 29 of Cleveland’s last 30 points in that stretch. Huge shoutout to Donyel Marshall for chipping in with 1 made free throw.
The Pistons threw every single defender on Lebron but they all looked helpless and could only witness the historic performance that happened right before their eyes.
The Cavs would eventually close it out in game 6 and move on to the finals where once again the Spurs were more than happy to face a subpar team that surprisingly found themselves there. And again, despite the sweep, this finals appearance with this roster, to me speaks more for the greatness of Lebron than even possibly some of his titles.
It’s not that the 2011 Dallas Mavericks weren’t a good team but the West was absolutely stacked back then. You had the 61 win Spurs as the 1 seed, then Kobe and the Lakers looking for the three peat. The young Thunder still had James Harden and Jeff Green alongside KD and Russ of course, making them the most dangerous team on the rise.
And even the Blazers who were the first round opponent for the Mavericks that year.
Dallas took care of them in 6, which brought them to the defending champions the Lakers.
In a shocking turn of events, the core of Dirk, J-Kidd, Terry, the Matrix and Tyson Chandler among others, absolutely destroyed LA, sweeping them and essentially ending their run as contenders.
The Western Conference Finals was probably a bit more competitive than the 4-1 record would suggest but ultimately, the experience that the Mavs had was too much to handle for OKC despite the youth and athleticism that was on their side.
5 Ιούλ 2021