The 100 Greatest Playoff Series in NBA History

Adam FromalNational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 25, 2012

The 100 Greatest Playoff Series in NBA History

0 of 100

    The NBA may be where amazing happens, but the NBA playoffs are where even more amazing happens. 

    Furthermore, these 100 playoff series are where the most amazing happened. Ranging from 1947 up through this year, these 100 series have provided us with an incredible number of memorable moments, great basketball plays and terrific games. 

    It would be absolutely impossible to sort these into a ranked order, so instead, I'm presenting them as a chronological look through NBA history. For each series, I've also highlighted whether or not there were any performances that appeared in my rankings of the 100 greatest individual playoff performances.  

    Read on to find out what they are.

Philadelphia Warriors vs. Chicago Stags, 1947

1 of 100

    Round: BAA Finals

    Result: 4-1 Warriors

    Notable Stars Involved: Joe Fulks, Howie Dallmar

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    During the first season of professional basketball in the BAA, the predecessor to the NBA, Howie Dallmar was one of only four players in the league to reach triple digits in assists.

    However, it was a shot—and not a pass—by the injured guard that propelled the Philadelphia Warriors to the first title in the league's history, winning in five games over the Chicago Stags.

    Joe Fulks was his typical high-scoring self, but it was a tiebreaking basket from Dallmar, who wasn't even expected to play in the game, that gave the Warriors the win. 

Minneapolis Lakers vs. Washington Capitols, 1949

2 of 100

    Round: BAA Finals

    Result: 4-2 Lakers

    Notable Stars Involved: George Mikan

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    After sweeping the Chicago Stags and Rochester Royals en route to the BAA Finals, one year before the NBA name would be officially adopted, the Minneapolis Lakers met the Washington Capitols in a surprisingly close contest. 

    George Mikan, unquestionably the best player in the league, opened the Finals with 42 points, but struggled during the middle portion of the series. He scored just 10 in the Game 2 loss, 35 in an easy Game 3 victory and 27 in Game 4 before breaking his wrist. 

    Instead of sitting out the rest of the series, Mikan put on a cast and continued to dominate. He scored 22 points in a Game 5 loss before closing out the series with 29 in the final game. 

Rochester Royals vs. New York Knicks, 1951

3 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-3 Royals

    Notable Stars Involved: Arnie Risen, Harry Galatin, Dick McGuire, Bob Davies

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None


    The Minneapolis Lakers had to lose at some point, and they were knocked out of the 1951 NBA playoffs in the Western Division Finals by the Rochester Royals.

    Rochester appeared poised to take control of the title by winning the first three games of the Finals, but New York wasn't done yet.

    Winning the next three games by a combined 16 points, the series returned to Rochester for Game 7. Led by Arnie Risen, who would score a game-high 24 points, the Royals stormed out to a 16-point lead. However, the Knicks scratched and clawed their way back into the game, eventually taking the lead with two minutes left. 

    With 40 seconds remaining in the final game, Bob Davies drove to the basket, was fouled and broke a tie with two free throws, giving the Royals a lead they would never relinquish. 

Minneapolis Lakers vs. New York Knicks, 1952

4 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-3 Lakers

    Notable Stars Involved: George Mikan, Vern Mikkelsen, Dick McGuire, Harry Galatin

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    In an effort to slow down the dominance of George Mikan, the NBA decided to widen the lane from six feet to 12 feet. It didn't exactly work. 

    Thanks to home court advantage, the Minneapolis Lakers took home yet another NBA title, sending the New York Knicks home without a trophy in seven games for the second time in two years.

    There were quite a few close games in the beginning of this series, but Mikan's 22 points helped put away the Knickerbockers with a decisive 17-point win in Game 7.  


Boston Celtics vs. Syracuse Nationals, 1953

5 of 100

    Round: Eastern Division Semifinals

    Result: 2-0 Celtics

    Notable Stars Involved: Bob Cousy, Bill Sharman

    Top-100 Individual Performances: Bob Cousy in Game 2 (No. 13)

     

    The only reason that this series earns a spot in the top 100 is Bob Cousy's second game of the series: 

    This quadruple-overtime victory over the Syracuse Nationals ended up being all about Bob Cousy. 

    The Houdini of the Hardwood scored a then-playoff-record 50 points in the game despite only making 10 field goals. Somehow, someway, he earned 32 trips to the free-throw line and made no less than 30 of them. 

    He scored 25 points in regulation, even with a bad leg, and tied the game with a last-second free throw. Cooz then scored six of his team's nine points in the first overtime, complete with yet another game-tying free throw in the final seconds.

    Cousy scored all four points for the C's in the second overtime and then knocked down a 25-foot shot with just five seconds left to tie the game at 99 in the third overtime before scoring nine points in the final extra period of action to seal the game and send the Celtics into the next round. 

     

Minneapolis Lakers vs. Syracuse Nationals, 1954

6 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-3 Lakers

    Notable Stars Involved: George Mikan, Jim Pollard, Vern Mikkelsen, Dolph Schayes

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None


    This was the last time the Lakers would win a championship while in Minneapolis, although it certainly wouldn't bet the last time in the franchise's storied history.

    The series between the Lakers and the Syracuse Nationals was never easily decided, as the two teams alternated winning throughout the seven-game stretch.

    At the end, well-rounded performances from the stacked Lakers team were too much to overcome, and the Lakers won Game 7 by seven points to earn the first "three-peat" in NBA history. 

Syracuse Nationals vs. Fort Wayne Pistons, 1955

7 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-3 Nationals

    Notable Stars Involved: George Yardley, Dolph Schayes

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    After George Mikan announced his retirement prior to the start of the 1954-55 season, it was time for a regime change in the NBA. 

    The Syracuse Nationals and Fort Wayne Pistons were the two teams to seize the opportunity, meeting up in a seven-game series in the NBA Finals that truly came down to the wire. 

    With the score tied at 90 and only 12 seconds left on the clock during the fourth quarter of Game 7, George King made one of his two charity shots to take the lead before stealing the ball away from the Pistons and preserving the lead.

Boston Celtics vs. St. Louis Hawks, 1957

8 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-3 Celtics

    Notable Stars Involved: Tom Heinsohn, Bill Russell, Bill Sharman, Bob Cousy, Frank Ramsey, Cliff Hagan, Ed Macauley, Slater Martin, Bob Pettit

    Top-100 Individual Performances: Bill Russell in Game 7 (No. 25), Tom Heinsohn in Game 7 (No. 14)


    It seemed as though the 1957 NBA Playoffs were going to be one of the most boring in the history of the sport, up until the NBA Finals, at least. 

    During the semifinals and finals in both divisions, sweeps were the only outcomes. Once a team won the first game of a series, they might as well have advanced. 

    However, in the Finals, the Boston Celtics took seven games to knock out the St. Louis Hawks and claim their first title. 

    In the double-overtime Game 7 victory, rookies Bill Russell and Tom Heinsohn both dominated, combining for 58 points and 55 rebounds. 

Boston Celtics vs. St. Louis Hawks, 1958

9 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-2 Hawks

    Notable Stars Involved: Tom Heinsohn, Bob Cousy, Frank Ramsey, Bill Russell, Bill Sharman, Sam Jones, Bob Pettit, Cliff Hagan, Ed Macauley, Slater Martin

    Top-100 Individual Performances: Bob Pettit in Game 6 (No. 6)


    "When I fall below what I know I can do, my belly growls and growls," said Bob Pettit.

    The biggest star on the St. Louis Hawks certainly didn't disappoint in Game 6 of this surprising series, when he scored 50 points and took advantage of the lead Bill Russell's sprained ankle helped give the Hawks. 

Boston Celtics vs. Syracuse Nationals, 1959

10 of 100

    Round: Eastern Division Finals

    Result: 4-3 Celtics

    Notable Stars Involved: Tom Heinsohn, Bill Russell, Sam Jones, Bill Sharman, Bob Cousy, Frank Ramsey, Dolph Schayes, Red Kerr, George Yardley, Hal Greer

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    The Boston Celtics put together the top record in the Eastern Conference with room to spare, but they were pushed to the limit by the new-look Syracuse Nationals, who added George Yardley so they could line him up with Red Kerr and Dolph Schayes to from quite the formidable trio. 

    Few of the first six games in the series were very close, with the home team taking all six contests. The series traveled back to Boston for Game 7 and the C's kept the trend going with a 130-125 win. 

    Schayes and Yardley each broke the 30-point barrier, but it wasn't enough to topple the mighty Celtics.

Minneapolis Lakers vs. St. Louis Hawks, 1959

11 of 100

    Round: Western Division Finals

    Result: 4-2 Lakers

    Notable Stars Involved: Elgin Baylor, Vern Mikkelsen, Bob Pettit, Cliff Hagan, Clyde Lovellette

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    The St. Louis Hawks won the Western Conference by 16 games during the regular season and were heavily favored to advance to the NBA Finals for yet another matchup with the Boston Celtics, the powerhouse in the East. 

    Rookie Elgin Baylor changed all of that, though. The smooth forward turned around the Minneapolis Lakers and made the All-NBA team as a rookie, joining Bob Pettit and Alex Groza as the only players to do so up to that point. 

    St. Louis took an early lead by winning two of the first three games in the series, but the Lakers came storming back, winning the final three games of the series to complete the monumental upset.

Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia Warriors, 1962

12 of 100

    Round: Eastern Division Finals

    Result: 4-3 Celtics

    Notable Stars Involved: Tom Heinsohn, Bill Russell, Sam Jones, Bob Cousy, Paul Arizin, Wilt Chamberlain, Guy Rodgers, Al Attles

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None


    Anytime Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain squared off against each other in a seven-game series, the result was bound to be something special.

    During the 1962 Eastern Division Finals, the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia Warriors matched up against each other, and the series was closely contested throughout.

    In fact, after six games, three quarters, 11 minutes and 58 seconds, the score was still tied. That was when Sam Jones knocked down a jumper in Game 7 to up his scoring total to 28 points and give the Celtics the decisive victory. 

Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 1962

13 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-3 Celtics

    Notable Stars Involved: Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Tom Heinsohn, Bill Russell, Frank Ramsey, Bob Cousy, Sam Jones

    Top-100 Individual Performances: Elgin Baylor in Game 5 (No. 4), Bill Russell in Game 7 (No. 11)

     

    This series is the first time you're seeing the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers matched up against each other here, but it won't be the last. I can assure you of that. 

    Above all else, this seven-game contest will be remembered for two games in the latter half of the series. 

    First, Elgin Baylor set a Finals record that still stands by dropping 61 points while pulling down 22 rebounds in Game 5. Then, Bill Russell responded two games later with an incredible 30-point, 40-rebound line. 

    The series came down to Frank Selvy missing a wide-open eight-footer from the baseline that would've won the game in regulation for the Lakers. When an overtime period resulted from the miss, the Celtics took home the title. 


Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 1963

14 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-2 Celtics

    Notable Stars Involved: Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Bob Cousy, Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Tom Heinsohn, Sam Jones

    Top-100 Individual Performances: Elgin Baylor in Game 3 (No. 68)

     

    When a team is as dominant as the Boston Celtics were during the early 1960s, don't motivate them by writing, as John Underwood of Sports Illustrated did, "The Boston Celtics are an old team. Tired blood courses through their varicose veins and they are suspected of having fallen arches, bad backs, itchy scalp and gout."

    With Underwood's motivation surely in the back of their minds, the Boston Celtics took a 3-1 lead in the series before losing at the Boston Garden, allowing the Los Angeles Lakers to creep back in the series. 

    Back in Los Angeles, the Celtics had as much as a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter of Game 6 before Bob Cousy, the man who was most targeted by the SI article, sprained his left ankle and sat on the bench as the Lakers closed the gap to just one point. 

    Cousy toughed it out, though, and helped extend the lead for the C's before dribbling out the clock and ending his career with a victory and another title.

Baltimore Bullets vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 1965

15 of 100

    Round: Western Division Finals

    Result: 4-2 Lakers

    Notable Stars Involved: Walt Bellamy, Bailey Howell, Jerry West

    Top-100 Individual Performances: Jerry West in Game 2 (No. 92)

     

    This series was all about the man who would go on to become the NBA logo.

    Highlighted by a Game 2 performance in which he dropped 52 points (including a ridiculous 20-of-21 from the line), Jerry West averaged 46.3 points per game, more than anyone else in a single series.

    Just imagine the damage the sharpshooter could have done if there had been a three-point line. 

Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 1965

16 of 100

    Round: Eastern Division Finals

    Result: 4-3 Celtics

    Notable Stars Involved: Tom Heinsohn, Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Sam Jones, Chet Walker, Hal Greer, Wilt Chamberlain

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    While Jerry West was dominating the Western Division Finals, the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers were squaring off in a legendary battle for the Eastern Division Finals. 

    A single sentence uttered from the mouth of Johnny Most can sum up the entire series. "Havlicek stole the ball!"

Boston Celtics vs. Cincinnati Royals, 1966

17 of 100

    Round: Eastern Division Semifinals

    Result: 3-2 Celtics

    Notable Stars Involved: Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Sam Jones, Jack Twyman, Jerry Lucas, Oscar Robertson

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None


    If you asked any basketball fan outside of the Cincinnati area who they thought the best team in the Eastern Conference was, they would probably have said the Boston Celtics.

    Well, the Cincinnati Royals weren't too convinced of that and jumped out to an early 2-1 series lead. It wouldn't be enough, though, as the Celtics stared elimination in the face and won two straight games by a total of 28 points to storm back and advance to the next round. 

Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 1966

18 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-3 Celtics

    Notable Stars Involved: Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Gail Goodrich, John Havlicek, Bill Russell, Sam Jones

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None


    After the Los Angeles Lakers pulled out an overtime victory to open the 1966 NBA Finals, Red Auerbach decided to do a little bit of motivating. He announced that he would retire and Bill Russell would become a player-coach, the first African-American coach in all of American sports.

    Maybe that was the little bit of extra motivation that the Boston Celtics needed.

    They would go on to win their eighth straight championship in seven games, beating the rival Lakers yet again. 

Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 1967

19 of 100

    Round: Eastern Division Finals

    Result: 4-1 76ers

    Notable Stars Involved: Chet Walker, Hal Greer, Billy Cunningham, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Sam Jones

    Top-10 Individual Performances: Wilt Chamberlain in Game 3 (No. 67)


    Highlighted by Wilt Chamberlain's NBA-record 41 rebounds in Game 3, the Philadelphia 76ers dethroned the Boston Celtics, handing them their first series loss in nine seasons. The Big Dipper also scored 20 points in that game while holding Bill Russell to just 10.

    It was the first playoff ousting of K.C. Jones' career, who said afterwards, "They're playing the same game we've played for the last nine years. In other words, team ball."

Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 1968

20 of 100

    Round: Eastern Division Finals

    Result: 4-3 Celtics

    Notable Stars Involved: John Havlicek, Sam Jones, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer, Chet Walker

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None


    In the Eastern Division Finals, it appeared as though the Boston Celtics were going to lose to the Philadelphia 76ers for the second straight season. After all, the Sixers had stormed out to a 3-1 lead in the series. 

    But led by player-coach Bill Russell, the C's fought back, knocking out the 76ers and then winning yet another championship by beating the Los Angeles Lakers.

    The dynasty was far from over, even though Bailey Howell claimed Sixers fans thought it was: "Everywhere we went, especially in Philadelphia, they had a chant: `Boston's dead. Boston's dead. The dynasty is over.' Everywhere we went, the fans were real vocal. But it just made you more determined, really. It helped you to play. When you get some help like that from opposing fans, it's really a lift."

Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 1969

21 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-3 Celtics

    Notable Stars Involved: John Havlicek, Sam Jones, Bill Russell, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain

    Top-100 Individual Performances: Jerry West in Game 1 (No. 48), Jerry West in Game 7 (No. 15)

     

    After a 3-3 start to the series, Los Angeles Lakers owner Jack Kent Cooke assumed that his team would win Game 7 at home, so he set up balloons in the ceiling as a premature celebration. 

    Oops. 

    Jerry West scored 42 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and dished out 12 assists in Game 7, but it wasn't enough after a Don Nelson jumper sealed things for the Boston Celtics. West played well enough to become the first and only player to win Finals MVP on the losing team, but it wasn't enough to prevent an 11th championship for Bill Russell, who retired three months later. 

New York Knicks vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 1970

22 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-3 Knicks

    Notable Stars Involved: Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, Bill Bradley, Dave DeBusschere, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West

    Top-100 Individual Performances: Walt Frazier in Game 7 (No. 5)

     

    Who could ever forget Willis Reed limping out of the tunnel in Game 7 and then Walt Frazier exploding for one of the greatest performances in NBA history?


Baltimore Bullets vs. New York Knicks, 1971

23 of 100

    Round: Eastern Conference Finals

    Result: 4-3 Bullets

    Notable Stars Involved: Jack Marin, Earl Monroe, Gus Johnson, Wes Unseld, Bill Bradley, Dave DeBusschere, Willis Reed, Walt Frazier

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    The New York Knicks were heavily favored to win this series against the Baltimore Bullets. After all, they were the reigning champions and had won 10 more games during the regular season. 

    First, the Knicks took a 2-0 lead, but let the Bullets back into a 2-2 tie. Then, New York won Game 5 to take a 3-2 lead. 

    However, Baltimore seized the opportunity and won hard-fought games in each of the last two contests to win the series, even if it did leave them with quite a few injured stars—namely Earl Monroe, Gus Johnson and Wes Unseld.

Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks, 1973

24 of 100

    Round: Eastern Conference Finals

    Result: 4-3 Knicks

    Notable Stars Involved: Bill Bradley, Dave DeBusschere, Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe, Willis Reed, Dave Cowens, John Havlicek

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    With a franchise-record 68 wins during the regular season and the league's MVP, Bill Cowens, the Boston Celtics were supposed to easily advance throughout the playoffs. 

    However, they met their match against the New York Knicks, who took them out thanks to the inspired play of reserves Jerry Lucas and Phil Jackson. 


Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics, 1974

25 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-3 Celtics

    Notable Stars Involved: John Havlicek, Dave Cowens, Bob Dandridge, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    Anytime multiple Hall of Famers are involved in Game 7 of the NBA Finals and the away team takes home the title, it has a puncher's chance of working its way onto a list like this. 

    Such was the case for the 1974 NBA Finals, when 28 points and 14 rebounds from Cowens helped the Boston Celtics earn a title over the favored Milwaukee Bucks. 

    It took double-teaming Kareem and sometimes even triple-teaming him, but it worked. 


Golden State Warriors vs. Washington Bullets, 1975

26 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-0 Warriors

    Notable Stars Involved: Rick Barry, Jamaal Wilkes, Elvin Hayes, Wes Unseld

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    After winning 12 less games during the regular season and needing a seven-game series to get past the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Golden State Warriors weren't even expected to seriously compete with the Washington Bullets.

    Compete they did. 

    In fact, the Dubs swept the Bullets by winning four closely contested games. Rick Barry would say afterwards, "It has to be the greatest upset in the history of the NBA Finals. It was like a fairy-tale season. Everything just fell into place. It's something I'll treasure for the rest of my life."

Phoenix Suns vs. Golden State Warriors, 1976

27 of 100

    Round: Western Conference Finals

    Result: 4-3 Suns

    Notable Stars Involved: Gar Heard, Paul Westphal, Alvan Adams, Rick Barry, Jamaal Wilkes

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    Bolstered by the addition of Paul Westphal, the Phoenix Suns surprised everyone by taking down the defending champions in dramatic fashion. 

    The Suns were consistently blown out by the Golden State Warriors when they lost games, but they took home close victory after close victory in the series, winning Games 2, 4 and 6 by seven, four and one point, respectively. 

    In Game 7, the Suns entered the fourth quarter with a slim two-point lead before the hot shooting of Gar Heard, Alvan Adams and Westphal took over the game. 

Phoenix Suns vs. Boston Celtics, 1976

28 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-2 Celtics

    Notable Stars Involved: John Havlicek, Dave Cowens, Gar Heard, Alvan Adams, Paul Westphal

    Top-100 Individual Performances: Dave Cowens in Game 1 (No. 37)

     

    This series started off in epic fashion, as Dave Cowens put up a triple-double in Game 1 to help the Boston Celtics take an early 1-0 lead. 

    It got even more epic. 

    I can't possibly do justice to Game 5, which many basketball fans consider one of the greatest games ever played. Just watch the accompanying video. 


Portland Trail Blazers vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 1977

29 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-2 Trail Blazers

    Notable Stars Involved: Julius Erving, George McGinnis, Maurice Lucas, Bill Walton

    Top-100 Individual Performances: Bill Walton in Game 6 (No. 18)

     

    Here's what I wrote about Bill Walton's performance in Game 6

    The Portland Trail Blazers had never even made the playoffs before the 1976-1977 season, but they advanced all the way to the NBA Finals that year. Unfortunately, things got off to a rough start, as the Philadelphia 76ers won the first two games of the series. 

    Portland, led by the red-bearded Bill Walton, stormed back, though, and took the series in six games. 

    In that decisive Game 6, Walton had a performance that locked up his Finals MVP Trophy, with 20 points, 23 rebounds, seven assists and eight blocks. 

    Blazermania survived thanks to the efforts of Walton and a missed shot by George McGinnis at the final buzzer. 

     


Washington Bullets vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 1978

30 of 100

    Round: Eastern Conference Finals

    Result: 4-2 Bullets

    Notable Stars Involved: Julius Erving, George McGinnis, Bob Dandridge, Elvin Hayes, Wes Unseld

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    The Washington Bullets only went 44-38 during the regular season, as opposed to the Philadelphia 76ers, who were a true powerhouse with their 55-27 record. 

    Somehow, though, the Bullets heeded Dick Motta's philosophy that ''the opera ain't over 'til the fat lady sings" and moved on to the NBA championship after winning Game 6.

Washington Bullets vs. Seattle SuperSonics, 1978

31 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-3 Bullets

    Notable Stars Involved: Bob Dandridge, Elvin Hayes, Wes Unseld, Jack Sikma, Dennis Johnson, Marvin Webster, Gus Williams

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None


    After getting by the Philadelphia 76ers, the Washington Bullets met a foe that was equally unlikely to make it to the NBA Finals: the Seattle SuperSonics. 

    Dennis Johnson had helped the Sonics rebound from a 5-17 start to the regular season en route to the Finals, but an 0-of-14 shooting performance in Game 7 doomed his team. 

    Five of the seven games in the series came down to the final stretch, most notably a 19-point fourth-quarter comeback by the Sonics in Game 1. 

    The hero of the series for the Bullets was backup guard Charles Johnson, who scored six points in overtime of Game 4 and another 19 in Game 7.

Seattle SuperSonics vs. Phoenix Suns, 1979

32 of 100

    Round: Western Conference Finals

    Result: 4-3 SuperSonics

    Notable Stars Involved: Alvan Adams, Paul Westphal, Jack Sikma, Dennis Johnson, Gus Williams, Fred Brown

    Top-100 Individual Performances: 

     

    After winning two games in a row to open the series, the Seattle SuperSonics lost three consecutive contests to the Phoenix Suns. With their backs against the proverbial wall, the Sonics won the final two games of the series by a combined five points to advance to the NBA Finals for the second straight year. 

    Jack Sikma was the hero of Game 7, grabbing 11 rebounds and scoring a career-high 33 points. No points were more significant than his game-clinching free throws at the end of the fourth quarter. 


Washington Bullets vs. San Antonio Spurs, 1979

33 of 100

    Round: Eastern Conference Finals

    Result: 4-3 Bullets

    Notable Stars Involved: George Gervin, Elvin Hayes, Wes Unseld, Bob Dandridge

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    While the Seattle SuperSonics and the Phoenix Suns were battling in the Western Conference Finals, the Washington Bullets and San Antonio Spurs engaged in a seven-game series of their own for the right to advance out of the East. 

    Amazingly enough, this one came down to the wire as well. Bob Dandridge knocked down a 12-footer from the right baseline with eight seconds left, giving him 37 points in the game and the Bullets a 107-105 victory in Game 7. 

    It was the team's third straight victory by a total of 14 points, helping them sneak past the Spurs after falling into a 3-1 hole. 

Seattle SuperSonics vs. Milwaukee Bucks, 1980

34 of 100

    Round: Western Conference Semifinals

    Result: 4-3 SuperSonics

    Notable Stars Involved: Bob Lanier, Sidney Moncrief, Jack Sikma, Gus Williams, Dennis Johnson, Fred Brown

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None


    Since the ABA-NBA merger, this is the only seven-game series in which at least six games finished with a five-point differential, or less. 

    Each of the first two games went to overtime, and Dennis Johnson hit a three-pointer with one second left in the first game. 

    The Milwaukee Bucks would go on to take a 3-2 lead, but lose the final games by a combined five points, blowing a fourth-quarter lead in Game 7. Gus Williams scored 33 points in that final game, including four free throws in the final 16 seconds of the four-point win. 

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 1980

35 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-2 Lakers

    Notable Stars Involved: Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Julius Erving, Darryl Dawkins, Maurice Cheeks, Bobby Jones

    Top-100 Individual Performances: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Game 5 (No. 10), Magic Johnson in Game 6 (No. 1)


    This series had some of the absolute greatest moments in basketball history. 

    We had my favorite play of all time, when Julius Erving curled the ball in from the other side of the backboard to score around Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. 

    We had Kareem's 40-point Game 5 when he dominated down the stretch while playing on a bum ankle. 

    We had Magic Johnson, as a rookie, step up and play center in Game 6, producing the single greatest individual performance in playoff history. 

    We had it all. 

Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 1981

36 of 100

    Round: Western Conference First Round

    Result: 2-1 Rockets

    Notable Stars Involved: Moses Malone, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None


    The Los Angeles Lakers were the defending champions and the Houston Rockets were the sixth seed in the Western Conference after winning only 40 games during the regular season.

    1981 only gave us a three-game series, but this huge upset was decided by three road wins, all by a total of just 12 points. 

Kansas City Kings vs. Phoenix Suns, 1981

37 of 100

    Round: Western Conference Semifinals

    Result: 4-3 Kings

    Notable Stars Involved: Otis Birdsong, Gus Johnson

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None


    This is the only time since the NBA-ABA merger that a No. 5 seed has taken down a No. 1 seed in the second round.

    After losing the first game of the series by a whopping 22 points to the Phoenix Suns, it appeared as though the Kansas City Kings were too overmatched to even compete in the series. That quickly changed when the Kings won the next three contests.

    Eventually, the Suns lost in Game 7 at home despite the fact that the Kings were missing both Otis Birdsong and Phil Ford, quite possibly their two best players. King scoring 23 in Game 7.

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Milwaukee Bucks, 1981

38 of 100

    Round: Eastern Conference Semifinals

    Result: 4-3 76ers

    Notable Stars Involved: Bob Lanier, Sidney Moncrief, Junior Bridgeman, Julius Erving, Maurice Cheeks, Bobby Jones

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None


    This series is one of only three times in NBA history that two 60-win teams have squared off in the second round.

    No team could win back-to-back games during the series, which meant that it all came down to Game 7.

    Despite 36 points from Marques Johnson and an improbable rally from 16 points down, the Philadelphia 76ers managed to win 99-98 and advance to the next round. 

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Boston Celtics, 1981

39 of 100

    Round: Eastern Conference Finals

    Result: 4-3 Celtics

    Notable Stars Involved: Julius Erving, Maurice Cheeks, Bobby Jones, Larry Bird, Tiny Archibald, Robert Parish, Kevin HcHale

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    Julius Erving and Larry Bird squaring off in the Eastern Conference Finals is bound to be exciting. 

    The Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics each won 62 games during the regular season, but the Sixers stormed out to a 3-1 lead in the series before the C's won the series in seven games, one of eight times that a 3-1 deficit has been overcome. 

    Each of the last four games was decided by only a single shot and the Celtics came back from double-digit holes in each of the last three. 

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Boston Celtics, 1982

40 of 100

    Round: Eastern Conference Finals

    Result: 4-3 76ers

    Notable Stars Involved: Julius Erving, Bobby Jones, Maurice Cheeks, Andrew Toney, Larry Bird, Robert Parish, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge

    Top-100 Individual Performances: Andrew Toney in Game 7 (No. 52)


    One game after they staged an epic battle in 1981, the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics met once more in 1982. 

    Boston won the first game by 40 points, but that didn't last for long as the Sixers rebounded to win the next three games. 

    Eventually, the series moved on to Game 7 at the Boston Garden and Julius Erving led his team to a shocking road victory to advance to the NBA Finals. 

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 1983

41 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-0 76ers

    Notable Stars Involved: Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Andrew Toney, Maurice Cheeks, Bobby Jones, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    It started out as Fo', Fo', Fo' but finished as Fo', Fi', Fo'. 

    Moses Malone's prediction was almost entirely true after this sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1983 NBA Finals. 

New Jersey Nets vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 1984

42 of 100

    Round: Eastern Conference First Round

    Result: 3-2 Nets

    Notable Stars Involved: Moses Malone, Julius Erving, Andrew Toney, Maurice Cheeks, Bobby Jones, Darryl Dawkins, Buck Williams, Otis Birdsong

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None


    Somehow, the road team won each and every game of this five-game series between the New Jersey Nets and Philadelphia 76ers.

    Somehow, someway, the Nets managed to not only win their first playoff game ever (they'd been added to the leave seven years earlier), but also managed to produce a huge upset by knocking out the defending champions who hadn't lost any of their stars from the previous season. 

Detroit Pistons vs. New York Knicks, 1984

43 of 100

    Round: Eastern Conference First Round

    Result: 3-2 Knicks

    Notable Stars Involved: Bernard King, Isiah Thomas

    Top-100 Individual Performances: Isiah Thomas in Game 5 (No. 44), Bernard King in Game 5 (No. 42)

     

    The final game of this closely-contested first-round series between the New York Knicks and Detroit Pistons provided perfect showcases for two of the best players in the league. 

    Bernard King and Isiah Thomas dominated all night long, each putting up top-50 individual playoff performances in NBA history. 

    Despite the lack of air conditioning in Joe Louis Arena, Zeke put up 12 assists and 35 points, including 16 in the last 1:33 of the game to force overtime. King would come out of the fifth period victorious though, with a stat line of 44 points and 12 rebounds while playing with the flu and some dislocated fingers. 


Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 1984

44 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-3 Celtics

    Notable Stars Involved: Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy

    Top-100 Individual Performances: Larry Bird in Game 5 (No. 57), Cedric Maxwell in Game 7 (No. 21)


    This was the first major manifestation of the Larry Bird-Magic Johnson rivalry, which makes it one of the most important series in league history. 

    The Los Angeles Lakers played terribly at the end of both Games 2 and 4, losing both in overtime. Then, in what seemed to be a theme during the 1984 NBA Playoffs, Game 5 was played without air conditioning in the Boston Garden. 

    Game 7 produced an unlikely hero in the form of Cedric Maxwell, who finished with 24 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the victorious Boston Celtics. 

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics, 1985

45 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-2 Lakers

    Notable Stars Involved: Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy

    Top-100 Individual Performances: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Game 5 (No. 70)


    In a series that would come to be known as The Boston Massacre, the Los Angeles Lakers got revenge for their loss in the NBA Finals one year before.

    The Boston Celtics blew out their rivals in Game 1, 148-114, but eventually fell on their home floor in Game 6 as Kareem Abddul-Jabbar played like he was still well within his prime.

    As for the highlight of the series, well, that would be Game 5 when Abdul-Jabbar knocked down sky-hook after sky-hook to score 36 points in hold off a furious rally by the Celtics. 

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Milwaukee Bucks, 1986

46 of 100

    Round: Eastern Conference Semifinals

    Result: 4-3 Bucks

    Notable Stars Involved: Maurice Cheeks, Charles Barkley, Julius Erving, Paul Pressey, Terry Cummings, Sidney Moncrief

     

    This series was close throughout but capped off by one of the more memorable Game 7's in NBA history. 

    Everyone held their breath when Julius Erving launched a 15-footer with no one around him and just two seconds left on the clock, but it clanged off the rim and allowed the Milwaukee Bucks to advance with a 113-112 victory despite a furious Charles Barkley-led rally. 


Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 1986

47 of 100

    Round: Western Conference Finals

    Result: 4-1 Rockets

    Notable Stars Involved: Ralph Sampson, Hakeem Olajuwon, James Worthy, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None


    The Los Angeles Lakers had owned the Western Conference for the last four years, but the Twin Tower duo of Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson put an end to that in 1986 on their march towards the NBA Finals.

    Everyone expected the Lakers to run away with the series, but the opposite was true as L.A. won only one game. 

    They came close to extending the series to a sixth game, but Sampson hit a jumper to beat the buzzer in Game 5 and the Rockets advanced with a 114-112 victory. 

Dallas Mavericks vs. Seattle SuperSonics, 1987

48 of 100

    Round: Eastern Conference First Round

    Result: 3-1 SuperSonics

    Notable Stars Involved: Sam Perkins, Mark Aguirre, Xavier McDaniel, Tom Chambers

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None


    After allowing 151 points in Game 1, the Seattle SuperSonics turned it around against a strep-throat ridden Mark Aguirre and the rest of the Dallas Mavericks. 

    Seattle entered the playoffs with a 39-43 record, 16 games worse than the Mavs, but won each of the next three games to advance to the next round. 

    This remains one of the bigger first-round upsets in the history of the playoffs, even if it was aided by illness. 

Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks, 1987

49 of 100

    Round: Eastern Conference Semifinals

    Result: 4-3 Celtics

    Notable Stars Involved: Jack Sikma, Paul Pressey, Sidney Moncrief, Terry Cummings, John Lucas, Larry Bird, Dennis Johnson, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None


    The Boston Celtics beat the Milwaukee Bucks by 13 points in Game 1, but a hobble Kevin McHale and a white-hot Sidney Moncrief kept the rest of the serious close with 67 points in Games 5 and 6.

    Five of the final six games in the series were decided by six points or less and two games went to overtime as the Bucks almost came back from a 3-1 series deficit.

    In fact, they led by eight points with five minutes remaining in Game 7 before Larry Bird took over with 13 points in the final quarter to help the Celtics advance to the third round of the playoffs. 

Boston Celtics vs. Detroit Pistons, 1987

50 of 100

    Round: Eastern Conference Finals

    Result: 4-3 Celtics

    Notable Stars Involved: Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson, Joe Dumars, Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer, Adrian Dantley

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None


    The Boston Celtics were the defending champions, but that didn't mean anything to the young Detroit Pistons, led by Isiah Thomas.

    The series were hard-fought throughout, much to the surprise of absolutely no one.

    In Game 5, the Celtics were down by a point and Thomas was inbounding the ball. It appeared as though it was all over.

    However, Larry Bird showed the world exactly why he was called Larry Legend. He stole the inbounds pass and somehow found a cutting Dennis Johnson for a lay-up to steal the series with a one-point victory. 

    Boston would go on to win the series in seven games and advance to the NBA Finals yet again. 

Boston Celtics vs. Atlanta Hawks, 1988

51 of 100

    Round: Eastern Conference Semifinals

    Result: 4-3 Celtics

    Notable Stars Involved: Dominique Wilkins, Doc Rivers, Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson

    Top-100 Individual Performances: Dominique Wilkins in Game 7 (No. 66), Larry Bird in Game 7 (No. 63)

     

    This series would have been great even without Game 7, but that final contest and the resulting duel between Dominique Wilkins and Larry Bird pushed it over the top: 

    One of the more famous games in NBA history, this was the battle between Larry Bird and Dominique Wilkins. 

    Going into the fourth quarter of action, Bird had struggled to just 14 points and was clearly being outplayed by Wilkins. However, he took over in the fourth quarter, finishing with 34 points and the game-winning basket as he traded blows with the Atlanta Hawks superstar. 

    As Kevin McHale said, "It was like two gunfighters waiting to blink. There was one stretch that was as pure a form of basketball as you're ever going to see."

    The Human Highlight Film may have outscored him by 13 points, but The Hick From French Lick came out on top. 

     


Detroit Pistons vs. Boston Celtics, 1988

52 of 100

    Round: Eastern Conference Finals

    Result: 4-2 Pistons

    Notable Stars Involved: Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson, Joe Dumars, Isiah Thomas, Vinnie Johnson, Adrian Dantley

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    The Detroit Pistons finally advanced to the NBA Finals thanks to multiple overtimes and a great performance from almost every one of the Bad Boys. 

    The Pistons blew an early lead in the series, allowing the Boston Celtics to tie it back up at two games apiece, after they were held to only 10 points in the final quarter of a tough Game 4 loss. Then in Game 5, they came back from 16 points behind in the Boston Garden, eventually winning in overtime. 

    Not a single game was decided by double-digits and a solid fourth quarter from Vinnie Johnson in Game 6 helped overcome an ineffective Larry Bird and the rest of the Celtics. 


Los Angeles Lakers vs. Detroit Pistons, 1988

53 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-3 Lakers

    Notable Stars Involved: Joe Dumars, Adrian Dantley, Isiah Thomas, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, James Worthy

    Top-100 Individual Performances: James Worthy in Game 7 (No. 8), Isiah Thomas in Game 6 (No. 7)


    This series was close from wire-to-wire and gave us two of the greatest playoff performances ever. 

    First, in Game 6, Isiah Thomas finished with 43 points, three rebounds, eight assists, six steals and a block in the loss, but his performance was nothing short of heroic. 

    Desperate after the Los Angeles Lakers were  running away with this game in the third quarter Zeke took over and scored 14 points in a row before rolling his right ankle on a pass to Joe Dumars and collapsing as he tried to run up the court. 

    Thomas stayed in the game while limping and scored an incredible 11 of his team's final 15 points in the third quarter to complete his NBA-record 25-point quarter. A missed jumper from Joe Dumars would seal the loss in the fourth though. 

    Then, in Game 7, it was James Worthy's turn to take over. His 36-points, 16-rebound, 10-assist triple-double (the only one of his career) ensured that the Lakers would win back-to-back championships. 

Chicago Bulls vs. Cleveland Cavaliers, 1989

54 of 100

    Round: Eastern Conference First Round

    Result: 3-2 Bulls

    Notable Stars Involved: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, Mark Price, Larry Nance, Brad Daugherty

    Top-100 Individual Performances: Michael Jordan in Game 4 (No. 97)

     

    I'm convinced that Michael Jordan had a deep-seated hatred of the Cleveland Cavaliers, because he always seemed to dominate against them. 

    MJ dropped 50 points in a Game 4 loss and surrounded the performance with a pair of 44-point games, both of which Chicago won. Plus, he topped the 30-point benchmark in each of the first two games of the first-round series. 

Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 1990

55 of 100

    Round: Western Conference Semifinals

    Result: 4-1 Suns

    Notable Stars Involved: Tom Chambers, Jeff Hornacek, Kevin Johnson, Magic Johnson, James Worthy

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    The Los Angeles Lakers had won 63 games during the regular season, earning the top seed in the Western Conference, and they boasted the services of MVP point guard Magic Johnson. Neither of those things were true for the Phoenix Suns. 

    After a close two-point win in Game 1 and a blowout loss in Game 2, the Suns reeled off three straight wins to shockingly advance to the next round. A 37-point performance from Kevin Johnson in the final game of the series sealed a three-point win to close out the Lakers. 

Detroit Pistons vs. Portland Trail Blazers, 1990

56 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-1 Pistons

    Notable Stars Involved: Joe Dumars, Isiah Thomas, Mark Aguirre, Vinnie Johnson, Dennis Rodman, Terry Porter, Clyde Drexler

    Top-100 Individual Performances: Vinnie Johnson in Game 5 (No. 26)

     

    After splitting the first two games of the 1990 NBA Finals, the Bad Boys of the Detroit Pistons started to win again and again. 

    Playing in Portland for Game 5, Vinnie Johnson decided that he needed to take over down the stretch and put together the 26th-greatest individual performance in playoff history: 

    There was a reason that Vinnie Johnson was known as The Microwave. For whatever reason, he had the remarkable ability to heat up. and that was shown off during the final game of the 1990 NBA Finals. 

    The Bad Boys were trailing a few minutes into the fourth quarter, but then, Johnson scored all nine points for the Detroit Pistons during a 9-0 run and helped his squad take a 77-76 lead with 6:35 remaining on the clock. 

    At the end of the game, Johnson caught fire again and scored seven of the Pistons' last nine points, including a 14-footer with 0.7 seconds remaining to earn the two-point victory and the title. 

     

Chicago Bulls vs. Portland Trail Blazers, 1992

57 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-2 Bulls

    Notable Stars Involved: Terry Porter, Clyde Drexler, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant

    Top-100 individual Performances: Michael Jordan in Game 1 (No. 54)

     

    Michael Jordan got off to a great start during the NBA Finals when he made six three-pointers in the first half for a Finals-record 35 points. The most famous of those shots was the final one, directly over Clifford Robinson, when Jordan shrugged after it fell through the net. 

    It was the Chicago Bulls bench that closed out what Jordan started, rallying to make the Portland Trail Blazers blow a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter of Game 6. Jordan was resting for the seemingly inevitable Game 7 when the bench came back 12 points in three minutes and allowed Air Jordan to do the rest. 


Chicago Bulls vs. New York Knicks, 1993

58 of 100

    Round: Eastern Conference Finals

    Result: 4-2 Bulls

    Notable Stars Involved: Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, John Starks, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant

    Top-100 Individual Performances: Michael Jordan in Game 4 (No. 61)

     

    This series didn't exactly start well as the New York Knicks won two of the first three games against the Chicago Bulls. In Game 2, John Starks had his legendary dunk over Michael Jordan.

    In Game 3, even though the Bulls won by 20, Jordan made only three of his 18 attempts from the field and he didn't even talk to the media after the game. 

    He bounced back fairly well in Game 4 (note the sarcastic understatement), scoring 54 points against the tough defense of John Starks. 

Chicago Bulls vs. Phoenix Suns, 1993

59 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-2 Bulls

    Notable Stars Involved: Kevin Johnson, Dan Majerle, Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant

    Top-100 Individual Performances: Michael Jordan in Game 2 (No. 69), Michael Jordan in Game 4 (No. 24)


    Even though it was John Paxson who hit the game-and-series-winner in Game 6, it was Michael Jordan who dominated throughout the series.

    The greatest player of all time scored 42 points and fell an assist shy of a triple-double in Game 2 before Scottie Pippen blocked Danny Ainge's last-second shot to preserve the win.

    Then there was the triple-overtime Game 3, in which the Phoenix Suns won by eight points despite another 44 from Jordan. In Game 5, the only game won by a home team, Jordan exploded for a Finals-tying 55 points. 

Denver Nuggets vs. Seattle SuperSonics, 1994

60 of 100

    Round: Western Conference First Round

    Result: 3-2 Nuggets

    Notable Stars Involved: Dikembe Mutombo, Shawn Kemp, Detlef Schrempf, Gary Payton

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None


    All you need to see to know this was a memorable playoff series is this image of Dikembe Mutombo, crying on the floor with the ball extended above his head  after becoming the first No. 8 seed to beat a No. 1 seed in the playoffs. 

Houston Rockets vs. Phoenix Suns, 1994

61 of 100

    Round: Western Conference Semifinals

    Result: 4-3 Rockets

    Notable Stars Involved: Kevin Johnson, Charles Barkley, Dan Majerle, Hakeem Olajuwon, Vernon Maxwell, Sam Cassell, Otis Thorpe

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    "From Choke City to Clutch City."


Houston Rockets vs. Utah Jazz, 1995

62 of 100

    Round: Western Conference First Round

    Result: 3-2 Rockets

    Notable Stars Involved: Karl Malone, John Stockton, Jeff Hornacek, Clyde Drexler, Hakeem Olajuwon, Kenny Smith

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    Allowing 140 points in an ugly Game 2 performance and falling behind 2-1 in the opening series of the 1995 NBA Playoffs, things weren't looking to good for the Houston Rockets. 

    With their backs against the wall, Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler took over. 

    In Game 4 they each topped 40 points and on the road in Game 5 they combined for another 64 by themselves. Just like that, they advanced. 

Houston Rockets vs. Phoenix Suns, 1995

63 of 100

    Round: Western Conference Semifinals

    Result: 4-3 Rockets

    Notable Stars Involved: Clyde Drexler, Hakeem Olajuwon, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley, Kevin Johnson, Dan Majerle

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None 


    As good as the Houston Rockets-Phoenix Suns series was one year earlier, this one may have been even better as the Rockets came back from a 3-1 deficit in the series to advance to the Western Conference Finals.

    During one game in Phoenix, Houston was down 10 points in the second half, but won off a Mario Elie three-pointer, after which he blew a kiss towards the Suns' bench. Oh yeah, and Kevin Johnson kind of destroyed Hakeem Olajuwon in that game.

    That was about the only time The Dream got destroyed. 

Indiana Pacers vs. New York Knicks, 1995

64 of 100

    Round: Eastern Conference Semifinals

    Result: 4-3 Pacers

    Notable Stars Involved: Reggie Miller, Dale Davis, Mark Jackson, Rik Smits, Patrick Ewing, John Starks, Charles Oakley

    Top-100 Individual Performances: Reggie Miller in Game 1 (No. 55)


    It's hard to put this any better than John Hollinger did:

    Eight points. Nine seconds. Seven games. In six words, that's what made this series special. Reggie Miller's Game 1 heroics are what everyone remembers, but how about the six games that followed? This second-round series between archenemies who had clashed memorably in the previous two postseasons featured three other games decided by two points or fewer.

    Of course, everyone remembers Miller turning a six-point Pacer deficit into a 109-107 win in the opener by making two 3-pointers and two free throws in the final 10 seconds. But New Yorkers also lament Patrick Ewing's missed layup at the Game 7 buzzer, a turnaround from Game 5 when Ewing hit the game-winning jumper with 1.4 seconds left. All told, three of the four games played in New York went to the buzzer.

Orlando Magic vs. Indiana Pacers, 1995

65 of 100

    Round: Eastern Conference Finals

    Result: 4-3 Magic

    Notable Stars Involved: Reggie Miller, Dale Davis, Mark Jackson, Rik Smits, Shaquille O'Neal, Penny Hardaway, Dennis Scott, Horace Grant

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None


    This was the last great moment for the Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway duo in Orlando Magic uniforms as the Magic were swept out of the playoffs each of the next two years and lost the two to the Los Angeles Lakers and knee injuries, respectively.

    The first five games of the series were decided by a total of just 17 points, highlighted by Rik Smits' buzzer-beating Game 4 jumper. 

    Led by Reggie Miller's 36 points, the Indiana Pacers easily won Game 6 in a blowout, but they were similarly blown out in Game 7 behind a well-rounded performance from the entire Orlando squad. 

Houston Rockets vs. San Antonio Spurs, 1995

66 of 100

    Round: Western Conference Finals

    Result: 4-2 Rockets

    Notable Stars Involved: Clyde Drexler, Hakeem Olajuwon, Kenny Smith, Sean Elliot, David Robinson

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None


    David Robinson may have been named MVP for the 1994-1995 season, but Hakeem Olajuwon did not agree with the voters.

    Game 1: 27 points, eight rebounds, six assists, one steal, five blocks

    Game 2: 41 points, 16 rebounds, four assists, three steals, two blocks

    Game 3: 43 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, zero steals, five blocks

    Game 4: 20 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, one steal, three blocks

    Game 5: 42 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, one steal, five blocks

    Game 6: 39 points, 17 rebounds, three assists, two steals, five blocks

Houston Rockets vs. Orlando Magic, 1995

67 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-0 Rockets

    Notable Stars Involved: Clyde Drexler, Hakeem Olajuwon, Kenny Smith, Shaquille O'Neal, Penny Hardaway, Dennis Scott, Horace Grant

    Top-100 Individual Performances: Kenny Smith in Game 1 (No. 99), Hakeem Olajuwon in Game 1 (No. 56) 


    In case you can't tell, I'm a pretty big fan of the Houston Rockets' run through the 1995 NBA Playoffs.

    After beating the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs, who had combined to win 40 games more than the Rockets in the regular season, the Rockets ran into the Orlando Magic.

    A sweep ensued as Houston pulled off yet another upset and inspired Rudy Romjanovich to say, "Don't ever underestimate the heart of a champion."


Seattle SuperSonics vs. Utah Jazz, 1996

68 of 100

    Round: Western Conference Finals

    Result: 4-3 SuperSonics

    Notable Stars Involved: Karl Malone, John Stockton, Jeff Hornacek, Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Detlef Schrempf, Hersey Hawkins

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    It took 27 years, but the Seattle SuperSonics finally made it back to the NBA Finals by beating the Utah Jazz in an intense seven-game series. 

    Gary Payton and John Stockton squared off at point guard while Karl Malone and Shawn Kemp battled at power forward. 

    It doesn't get too much better than that. 


Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks, 1997

69 of 100

    Round: Eastern Conference Semifinals

    Result: 4-3 Heat

    Notable Stars Involved: Allan Houston, Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, Tim Hardaway, Jamaal Mashburn, Alonzo Mourning

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None


    The Miami Heat and New york Knicks didn't exactly like each other and that showed during this series.

    New York seemed to be running away with the series after winning three of the first four games, but then a huge brawl erupted in Game 5 and quite a few of the New York bench players were suspended.

    That was all the Heat needed as they won the last three games of the series and advanced to the next round. 

Houston Rockets vs. Seattle SuperSonics, 1997

70 of 100

    Round: Western Conference Semifinals

    Result: 4-3 Rockets

    Notable Stars Involved: Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Hersey Hawkins, Detlef Schrempf, Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    Every single one of the seven games in this series was won by single-digits and the majority were won by the away team. 

    The Houston Rockets won away games at KeyArena in Games 3 and 4 to storm out to a 3-1 lead, including an overtime victory in which Matt Maloney made eight three-pointers. 

    In the final game of the series, the Rockets trio of stars scored 35 of the team's 41 points in the second half. 

Utah Jazz vs. Chicago Bulls, 1997

71 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-2 Bulls

    Notable Stars Involved: Karl Malone, John Stockton, Jeff Hornacek, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman

    Top-100 Individual Performances: Michael Jordan in Game 5 (No. 2)


    This was an insanely good playoff series from start to finish, but everything pales in comparison to Michael Jordan's performance in Game 5.

    After all, that was The Flu Game. 

Indiana Pacers vs. Chicago Bulls, 1998

72 of 100

    Round: Eastern Conference Finals

    Result: 4-3 Bulls

    Notable Stars Involved: Reggie Miller, Mark Jackson, Rik Smits, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None


    During their six marches through the playoffs that resulted in titles, the Chicago Bulls only played a seventh game twice. This was one of those occasions.

    Reggie Miller knocked down the game-winning shot in Game 4 to tie up the series at two games apiece and then Travis Best knocked down the last-second free throws in Game 6 to tie it up once more after the Bulls beat the Indiana Pacers in Game 5. The home team won all seven games in this series, but it was never easy. 

    After Reggie Miller was held scoreless over the final 15 minutes of Game 7, the Bulls prevailed by winning each of their four victorious contests by single-digits. 

Chicago Bulls vs. Utah Jazz, 1998

73 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-2 Bulls

    Notable Stars Involved: Karl Malone, John Stockton, Jeff Hornacek, Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman

    Top-100 Individual Performances: Karl Malone in Game 5 (No. 89), Michael Jordan in Game 6 (No. 20)

     

    It's amazing how many of Michael Jordan's playoff series can be summed up in just a few words. 

    Take this one for instance: Michael Jordan pushes off of Bryon Russell and hits the game-winner. 

New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat, 1999

74 of 100

    Round: Eastern Conference First Round

    Result: 3-2

    Notable Stars Involved: Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson, Allan Houston, Latrell Sprewell, Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway, Jamaal Mashburn

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None


    This was one of only three series in NBA history in which a No. 8 seed beat a No. 1 seed.

    Although the New York Knicks may have been benefited from the discontinuity produced by a lockout-shortened 50-game season, they did still manage to beat the Miami Heat when Allan Houston hit a runner that bounced in with 0.8 seconds left in Game 5. 

New York Knicks vs. Indiana Pacers, 1999

75 of 100

    Round: Eastern Conference Finals

    Result: 4-2 Knicks

    Notable Stars Involved: Reggie Miller, Rik Smits, Mark Jackson, Allan Houston, Patrick Ewing, Latrell Sprewell

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    By beating the Indiana Pacers, the New York Knicks became the first No. 8 seed to ever advance to the NBA Finals. 

    The highlight of the series was Larry Johnson's game-winning (and controversial) four-point play in Game 3. 


New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat, 2000

76 of 100

    Round: Eastern Conference Semifinals

    Result: 4-3 Knicks

    Notable Stars Involved: Latrell Sprewell, Allan Houston, Larry Johnson, Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Dan Majerle, Jamaal Mashburn, Tim Hardaway

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None 

     

    Every single game in this series that went that distance was decided by eight points or less. Plus, the Miami Heat and New York Knicks always played tough, intense games thanks to their bitter rivalry stemming from meetings in the last five years especially.

    Game 3 went to overtime and was decided when Anthony Carter made a shot from the wrong side of the backboard to give the Heat the win. Three games later, Miami blew a 15-point lead and then allowed yet another comeback in Game 4. 

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers, 2000

77 of 100

    Round: Western Conference Finals

    Result: 4-3 Lakers

    Notable Stars Involved: Rasheed Wallace, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal

    Top-100 Individual Performances:  Kobe Bryant in Game 7 (No. 82)


    The Portland Trail Blazers appeared to be headed to the NBA Finals as they had a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter of Game 7 against the Los Angeles Lakers.

    However, they missed 13 shots in a row as the Lakers fought back into the game and took control on the single most famous play from the Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal days.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Indiana Pacers, 2000

78 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-2 Lakers

    Notable Stars Involved: Jalen Rose, Reggie Miller, Mark Jackson, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant

    Top-100 Individual Performances: Kobe Bryant in Game 4 (No. 60), Shaquille O'Neal in Game 1 (No. 41), Shaquille O'Neal in Game 2 (No. 31)

     

    Any time a series has three of the 100 greatest individual performances in NBA playoff history, it's going to make it onto this list. 

Dallas Mavericks vs. Utah Jazz, 2001

79 of 100

    Round: Western Conference First Round

    Result: 3-2 Mavericks

    Notable Stars Involved: Michael Finley, Juwan Howard, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, John Stockton, Karl Malone

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    The Utah Jazz took a 2-0 lead in the first-to-three series, but the Dallas Mavericks weren't done yet. 

    Steve Nash and the seven stitches on his forehead hit a go-ahead turnaround jumper with 22.7 seconds left to help the Mavs win their first playoff game in 13 years. 

    The momentum stayed with Mark Cuban's team, who won two more games in a row to advance to the next round, finishing off the series with a dramatic one-point victory in Game 5. 


Philadelphia 76ers vs. Toronto Raptors, 2001

80 of 100

    Round: Eastern Conference Semifinals

    Result: 4-3 76ers

    Notable Stars Involved: Vince Carter, Allen Iverson

    Top-100 Individual Performances: Allen Iverson in Game 2 (No. 75), Allen Iverson in Game 5 (No. 72), Vince Carter in Game 3 (No. 49)


    There were other stars in this series, but there's just no point in listing anyone other than Vince Carter and Allen Iverson. 

    A.I. exploded for 54 points in Game 2, but Air Canada responded with a 50-spot of his own in Game 3. Then Iverson answered back in Game 5 with a 52-point game. 

    If you love scoring superstars, this was the series for you. 

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Sacramento Kings, 2002

81 of 100

    Round: Western Conference Finals

    Result: 4-3 Lakers

    Notable Stars Involved: Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Chris Webber, Mike Bibby, Vlade Divac, Hedo Turkoglu

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    I'm going to turn to John Hollinger once more here

    Seven games wasn't enough to decide the 2002 Western Conference finals, but the Lakers finally prevailed in overtime in Sacramento when the Kings kept missing free throws. This classic series had everything -- game-winning shots by Robert Horry and Mike Bibby, a 24-point Lakers comeback in Game 4 to even the series, and the first conference finals or Finals Game 7 road win in 20 years. Even before the Game 7 overtime, the previous three games were decided by a total of six points.

    Of course, this series has also become synonymous with scandal because of a 106-102 Laker victory in Game 6 that featured a series of dubious calls in favor of L.A, most notably a late fourth-quarter Kobe Bryant elbow that left Bibby bleeding but drew a whistle against the Kings. The Lakers took 27 fourth-quarter free throws, and by the end Sacramento was guarding Shaquille O'Neal with little-used backup forward Lawrence Funderburke.

    Nonetheless, the most crucial moment came in Game 4, when the Lakers capped off a miraculous comeback with Horry's 3-pointer at the buzzer to win 100-99. The Kings seemingly had it won after Vlade Divac tapped a Lakers miss away from the basket area and the clock wound down, only to have the ball go straight to Horry at the 3-point line.

     


Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Sacramento Kings, 2004

82 of 100

    Round: Western Conference Semifinals

    Result: 4-3 Timberwolves

    Notable Stars Involved: Peja Stojakovic, Mike Bibby, Chris Webber, Vlade Divac, Kevin Garnett, Latrell Sprewell, Sam Cassell

    Top-100 Individual Performances: Kevin Garnett in Game 7 (No. 32)


    The Sacramento Kings were poised to take a 2-0 lead in the series with two upcoming home games, but they blew a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter and let the Minnesota Timberwolves right back into th eseries. 

    To make matters worse, the Kings came back in Game 3 but fell in overtime. 

    Later on, in Game 7, Chris Webber failed to overcome Kevin Garnett's 32 points and 21 rebounds when he missed a three-pointer at the final buzzer of the series. 

Los Angeles Lakers vs. San Antonio Spurs, 2004

83 of 100

    Round: Western Conference Semifinals

    Result: 4-2 Lakers

    Notable Stars Involved: Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Gary Payton, Karl Malone, Derek Fisher

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None


    This is one series that can be recalled by just a single number. 

    0.4.

Detroit Pistons vs. Indiana Pacers, 2004

84 of 100

    Round: Eastern Conference Finals

    Result: 4-2 Pistons

    Notable Stars Involved: Ron Artest, Jermaine O'Neal, Al Harrington, Reggie Miller, Rip Hamilton, Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Prince

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    The most significant game between the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers in 2004 was the infamous Malice at the Palace, but don't discount the wonderful Eastern Conference Finals between the two powerhouses. 

    Easily the best play of the series was Tayshaun Prince's chase-down block of Reggie Miller to preserve the Game 2 victory. 


Detroit Pistons vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 2004

85 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-1 Pistons

    Notable Stars Involved: Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Gary Payton, Karl Malone, Rip Hamilton, Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Prince

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    The Detroit Pistons were not supposed to be able to beat the Los Angeles Lakers over the course of a seven-game series, much less take only five games to do so.

    Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant's failing relationship and the added presence of Gary Payton and Karl Malone were supposed to be to much to overcome.  


San Antonio Spurs vs. Detroit Pistons, 2005

86 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-3 Spurs

    Notable Stars Involved: Rip Hamilton, Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Prince, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    If you don't like defensive battles, then you might as well skip on ahead because the only time a team managed to hit triple-figures was in Game 4 when the Detroit Pistons scored 102 points and won by 31. 

    Robert Horry did his thing and made a decisive three-pointer in overtime during Game 5 and the San Antonio Spurs came back in the second half of Game 7 to hold off the aggressive Pistons. 

Dallas Mavericks vs. San Antonio Spurs, 2006

87 of 100

    Round: Western Conference Semifinals

    Result: 4-3 Mavericks

    Notable Stars Involved: Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Josh Howard, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    The Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs engaged in one hell of a battle throughout the Western Conference Semifinals, but going into the fourth quarter of Game 7, the Mavericks had a six-point lead. 

    The Spurs charged back with 26 points, but Dirk Nowitzki wouldn't let them overtake his team. The big man from Germany scored 12 points in the fourth, including an old fashioned three-point play with 21 seconds left to force overtime. 

    In overtime, the Spurs would be outscored by eight points and cede the right to the Western Conference Finals. 


Detroit Pistons vs. Cleveland Cavaliers, 2006

88 of 100

    Round: Eastern Conference Semifinals

    Result: 4-3 Pistons

    Notable Stars Involved: Tayshaun Prince, Chauncey Billups, Rasheed Wallace, Ben Wallace, Rip Hamilton, LeBron James

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    The Detroit Pistons had won the Eastern Conference each of the last two seasons and LeBron James was making his first run through the postseason, but the Cleveland Cavaliers still managed to make this series go the distance. 

    Go back and watch highlights of this series and then try to tell me that LeBron isn't clutch. News flash! He played well throughout the playoffs for the vast majority of his career. 

Miami Heat vs. Dallas Mavericks, 2006

89 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-2 Heat

    Notable Stars Involved: Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O'Neal, Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Josh Howard


    Sure there may have been a lot of controversy about the officials in this series, including an accusation from Mark Cuban that the league was fixed, but Dwyane Wade still put together one of the greatest individual series of all time. It could possibly be the greatest. 

    Just read the descriptions of his three best games

    Game 3: 

    The Miami Heat appeared to be down and out of the NBA Finals after falling behind by 13 points with six minutes left in the fourth quarter while already down two games to none in the series. 

    Although Gary Payton made the game-winner with 9.3 seconds remaining, it was Dwyane Wade who sparked the rally to complete his 42-point, 13-rebound masterpiece. He scored 12 points in the final six minutes of the game. 

    Game 5: 

    I can feel the comments coming because of the refereeing in this game, or the lack thereof.

    Regardless of what the zebras did, Dwyane Wade was simply phenomenal, as he scored 43 points in 51 minutes of action while going 21-of-25 from the charity stripe, including a pair of free throws to win the game with 1.9 seconds left in overtime.

    Wade was at his best during the second half of action, scoring 26 points in the second half, including the last 11 for his team. In overtime, he added another four of his team's eight points to leave no doubt about who the best player on the court was. 

    Game 6

    Dwyane Wade came fairly near to a five-by-five in this final game of the 2006 NBA Finals in which he led the Miami Heat to a terrific comeback from a 2-0 deficit in the series by winning four games in a row. 

    He scored 36 points, pulled down 10 rebounds, dished out five assists and contributed four steals and three blocks on defense.

    Amazingly enough, this performance pales in comparison to two other games from this series, as you'll see soon enough.  

     

     

Dallas Mavericks vs. Golden State Warriors, 2007

90 of 100

    Round: Western Conference First Round

    Result: 4-2 Warriors

    Notable Stars Involved: Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Josh Howard, Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, Jason Richardson

    Top-100 Individual Performances: Baron Davis in Game 6 (No. 83)

     

    Not only did the Golden State Warriors win their first playoff series in 16 years, but they also became the first No. 8 seed to topple the top seed in a conference in a seven-game series. 

    The Dubs played inspired basketball all series long, a run that was best exemplified by Baron Davis' ridiculous Game 6 performance. Playing on a gimpy hamstring, the bearded point guard scored 20 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and dished out six assists to the chants of "MVP."


Phoenix Suns vs. San Antonio Spurs, 2007

91 of 100

    Round: Western Conference Semifinals

    Result: 4-2 Spurs

    Notable Stars Involved: Steve Nash, Amar'e Stoudemire, Shawn Marion, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    The basketball in this series may not have been the greatest and the games weren't ridiculously close, but the intrigue surrounding the six games between the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs was more than enough to earn a spot here. 

    There was the late-game collision between Steve Nash and Tony Parker, one that saw Nash bleed quite a bit and miss the final minute of the game. Then in Game 4, Robert Horry hip checked Nash into the boards, I mean, scorer's table. 

    And of course, there was Tim Donaghy. 

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Detroit Pistons, 2007

92 of 100

    Round:  Eastern Conference Finals

    Result: 4-2 Cavaliers

    Notable Stars Involved: LeBron James, Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Prince, Rasheed Wallace

    Top-100 Individual Performances: LeBron James in Game 5 (No. 3)

     

    I still absolutely love NBA.com's description of LeBron James' Game 5 performance: 

    May 31, 2007 – Mark it down as the official date LeBron James became a great NBA player. Nothing King James did in his brief NBA career prior to Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals came remotely close to the all-around brilliance he displayed in single-handedly leading the Cavs to victory over the Detroit Pistons and one win away from the franchise’s first ever Finals appearance.

    With the Cavs trailing by seven --- 88-81 – with just over three minutes to play in regulation, James officially entered the Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Rick Barry, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird playoff territory. James was unstoppable. A layup, a three-pointer and two power slams within the last 31.4 seconds forced the game into overtime. The first overtime session saw James hit a pair of free throws, a dunk and an off balanced 20-footer giving the Cavs the lead only to watch the Pistons tie the game via free throws to force a second overtime session. In the second OT, James continued his roll, nailing a 26-footer to tie the game at 107 with 1:14 remaining and later driving past the Pistons defense for the game winning layup.

    When the buzzer sounded, the breathtaking display saw James score the Cavs final 25 points and 29 of the team’s last 30 against a veteran Pistons team.

    "That was unbelievable – I've never seen anything like that, ever," smiled Daniel Gibson. "Words can't describe the determination he put out there. The heart, the effort. It was just amazing."

     

Boston Celtics vs. Chicago Bulls, 2009

93 of 100

    Round: Eastern Conference First Round

    Result: 4-3 Celtics

    Notable Stars Involved: Derrick Rose, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce

    Top-100 Individual Performances: Ray Allen in Game 6 (No. 84)


    Derrick Rose was the hero of Game 1 as he scored 36 points, tying Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most points ever in a playoff debut, and led the Chicago Bulls to an overtime victory against the heavily-favored Boston Celtics. 

    No one cares about Games 2 or 3 because they didn't go to overtime. 

    Game 4 took double-overtime to decide and even that wasn't too special a game in this series. 

    Game 5 only went to single overtime. Ho hum. 

    Game 6 went to triple-overtime and was decided when Rajon Rondo's game-winning attempt was rejected by Rose. It was also notable that Ray Allen scored 51 points, the first time since John Havlicek that a Celtic had broken 50 in the playoffs, and hit nine from downtown, tied for the most of all-time.

    Game 7 was boring by comparison as the Celtics advanced with a 10-point victory. 

Orlando Magic vs. Boston Celtics, 2009

94 of 100

    Round: Eastern Conference Semifinals

    Result: 4-3 Magic

    Notable Stars Involved: Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None


    It's scary to imagine how good this series could have been if Kevin Garnett and Jameer Nelson had been healthy for the two teams who combined for the fourth-most wins of two second-round opponents.

    The series went the distance as the Orlando Magic prevailed behind a dominating Game 7 performance thanks to a well-rounded team game and a terrific two-way showing from Dwight Howard. 

Orlando Magic vs. Cleveland Cavaliers, 2009

95 of 100

    Round: Eastern Conference Finals

    Result: 4-2 Magic

    Notable Stars Involved: LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu

    Top-100 Individual Performances: LeBron James in Game 5 (No. 76)

     

    Despite not having much in the way of a supporting cast, LeBron James played well enough throughout this series to get the series to go six games. 

    His best showing was in Game 5, when he recorded a ridiculous  37 points, 14 rebounds, 12 assists, a steal and a block for a playoff triple-double and the victory. During the fourth quarter, which the Cavs entered with a one-point deficit and finished with a 10-point victory, James had 16 points, four rebounds and four assists. 

    Of course though, after the Game 6 win by the Orlando Magic, LeBron didn't stick around to shake hands. 

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics, 2010

96 of 100

    Round: Eastern Conference Semifinals

    Result: 4-2 Celtics

    Notable Stars Involved: LeBron James, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett

    Top-100 Individual Performances: Rajon Rondo in Game 6 (No. 79)

     

    LeBron James didn't seem to be all that inspired in this lackluster performance against the Boston Celtics. 

    In what would prove to be his final game wearing a Cleveland Cavaliers jersey, it was Rajon Rondo who stole the show. 

    Rondo put up one of his many playoff triple-doubles by recording 29 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists. 

    Doc Rivers didn't have too many words to describe the performance when he simply said, "He was absolutely sensational tonight."


Memphis Grizzlies vs. San Antonio Spurs, 2011

97 of 100

    Round: Western Conference First Round

    Result: 4-2 Grizzlies

    Notable Stars Involved: Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili

     

    Let's take a look at all the historical things that Zach Randolph and the Memphis Grizzlies did during the first-round upset in 2011. 

    1. They put together not only the first playoff victory in the franchise's history, but also the first victorious series. 

    2. They played in five games decided by eight points or less. 

    3. They played in one of the six series since the NBA-ABA merger in which the defeated team had won at least 15 more games during the regular season. 

    4. Z-BOOOOOO! (Sorry, I had to). 

Dallas Mavericks vs. Miami Heat, 2011

98 of 100

    Round: NBA Finals

    Result: 4-2 Mavericks

    Notable Stars Involved: Jason Terry, Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None 

     

    By avenging their collapse in the 2006 NBA Finals, the Dallas Mavericks both fueled the LeBron James hate and won the first title in franchise history. 

    The Mavericks made huge comebacks in both Games 2 and 4, both led by Dirk Nowitzki. The 15-point comeback in the fourth quarter of Game 2 was particularly impressive. 

    Another significant part of the 2011 NBA Finals was Dirk Nowitzki's popularization of the flamingo shot. 

Memphis Grizzlies vs. Los Angeles Clippers, 2012

99 of 100

    Round: Western Conference First Round

    Result: 4-3 Clippers

    Notable Stars Involved: Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Rudy Gay

    Top-100 Individual Performances: None

     

    Not only did the Los Angeles Clippers end years of frustration during this 2012 first-round series, but they also put together one of the greatest comebacks of all time in front of a sold-out crowd of 18,119 in the FedEx Forum. 

    At one point, L.A. was down 27 points and with 9:13 remaining in the fourth quarter, they were still trailing by 24 points. But somehow, sparked by Reggie Evans and Nick Young, the Clippers scratched and clawed their way back to a ridiculous 99-98 victory. 

    Memphis had a comeback of their own in Game 6 when they fought back from eight down in the final quarter to win 90-88. 

    This was a completive series throughout until the L.A. bench took over in Game 7 and helped the Clippers advance for what felt like the first time in centuries. 

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. San Antonio Spurs?

100 of 100

    Obviously, this series hasn't happened quite yet, but it's set up so that it could easily work it's way onto this list. 

    The San Antonio Spurs haven't lost in decades and have swept their way through the playoffs so far while the Oklahoma City Thunder have knocked out the past two champions in dominant fashion. 

    WIth Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden on the court, there's the potential for greatness here.