The 2011 Heat vs. Bulls series had high expectations.
The NBA playoffs have moved to the second round, and all of these teams have met before in the playoffs. These matchups will become a lot more competitive as they reflect on some of their previous battles.
The teams are very familiar with their opponents' styles, and don’t be surprised if the action gets a little chippier. They know that there are still two more rounds until the NBA Finals, and they want to advance as soon as possible.
Some of the previous matchups were epic with Hall of Famers going toe to toe with other Hall of Famers. Other matchups feature teams that have only been dominant for a few years.
Let’s take a closer look at the best times these teams faced each other in the past.
Stats are courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com unless noted otherwise.
The Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks don’t need any name tags, as this is their seventh playoff matchup since 1993. Out of the six previous matchups that have included some quality memories, the most spectacular meetings occurred in continuous seasons: 1994 and 1995.
The 1995 series took the cake because of the two major participants: Reggie Miller of the Pacers and director Spike Lee of the first row inside Madison Square Garden. Lee is a very polarizing figure, and he was being his usual boisterous self by sitting courtside.
In Game 1, Miller put on one of the greatest shooting performances of all time by making a three-point shot with 16.4 seconds left. He went on to steal the next in-bounds pass and retreated behind the arc to hit another trey to tie the game. He eventually won it at the foul line a few seconds later.
The Pacers looked to have control of the series after winning Game 3 and Game 4, securing a 3-1 series lead, but the Knicks turned the tide with the help of center Patrick Ewing. The Knicks won both Game 5 and Game 6 to force a series finale back home at the Garden.
All of the main ingredients were back in place with Miller giving the evil eye to Lee, but those two were not the focal point at the end of the game. Both teams traded baskets in Game 7, and the game rested in the hands of Ewing during the final seconds.
Ewing had a clear look at the basket and missed a finger-roll layup just before the horn sounded. Indiana got its revenge from the disappointing seven-game loss to the Knicks in the previous season. This series was one for the ages.
The Golden Warriors hadn’t won in San Antonio since 1997, but they pulled off the series-saving win after surviving another Spurs rally in the final quarter of Game 2.
The Warriors had more than enough opportunities to finally pull one out in Game 1, but they gave up a 16-point lead with 4:31 left to play in the fourth quarter, and the San Antonio Spurs closed it out in double overtime.
This series is looking very similar to the last and only time these teams faced each other in the 1991 NBA Playoffs. The new kids on the block in this series were the “Run TMC” Warriors, who had taken the Association by storm.
As for the Spurs, Tim Duncan was not around, as it seems he has been playing since the beginning of time. The big-time stars for San Antonio were center David Robinson, guard Sean Elliot and forward Terry Cummings.
The series started out with the Spurs holding home-court advantage in a relatively large rout. Guard Willie Anderson led the charge with help from Robinson and Rod Strickland to set the series tone.
However, the Warriors seized the momentum and the home court by winning Game 2 running away. Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin lit up the scoreboard with the dynamic passing and shooting, while Sarunas Marciulionis helped off the bench with his energy-filled infusion.
The return to the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum saw the Warriors keep the series in hand as they held off the Spurs in a tough game. The Warriors won the game by three points after both teams went back-and-forth for all four quarters.
Hardaway took over Game 4 in the series and clinched it for the Warriors. He put up 32 points and nine assists as Run TMC’s leader, and the Warriors surprised the second-seeded Spurs.
Run TMC was exciting and fast basketball, which is similar to this young Warriors team with the “Splash Brothers” of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. The Spurs have experience on their side, but they have to combat a faster, more up-tempo team.
The Warriors are looking to take a page from that book and take the keys to future dominance.
The Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder have met only once during the playoffs, but that series was a full seven-gamer that introduced a lot of America to the star power on both teams.
The 2011 series dueled the up-and-coming Oklahoma City Thunder with Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook versus the big men combination of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.
The Grizzlies surprised the Thunder in the first game of the 2011 series with dominant performances from Gasol and Randolph. They scored, rebounded and kicked the ball out to Mike Conley and Tony Allen. Only Kevin Durant looked like a positive performer for the upstart Thunder.
Each team’s stars took control in Game 2 and Game 3 as the home team won each of the games. However, in Game 4, the Thunder stole the victory with solid play from Durant and Westbrook, who both put up over 30 points in the game.
Game 5 and Game 6 gave the home teams the victories, which set up a Game 7 in Oklahoma City. Durant lit up the scoreboard with 39 points, while teammates Westbrook, Harden and Nick Collison provided extra firepower to win rather easily, 105-90.
The Chicago Bulls looked to be the young up-and-coming team and the first real title-contender since Michael Jordan had left the franchise. They had 2010-11 NBA MVP Derrick Rose leading the show with Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah as his supporting cast.
The Miami Heat were the new super team by signing free agents LeBron James and Chris Bosh to pair up with 2006 NBA Finals MVP Dwayne Wade. LeBron had proclaimed at their over-exuberant introduction that the Heat would win more than one championship.
The series started out with the top-seeded Bulls holding home court and running away with the game in the fourth quarter. However, the Heat started to realize their potential by stealing away Game 2 and setting themselves up to take control in Miami.
The Heat limited the dynamic Bulls’ squad to primarily its superstar Rose. The other teammates played well, but they did not work as consistently as they experienced throughout the season. Miami won both of its games at home.
Even down 3-1 in the series, the Bulls had a shot to win at home and force a Game 6 in Miami, and they looked like they were on their way to making that happen. The Bulls had an 11-point lead and looked to be going back to Miami for a Game 6 when Carlos Boozer woke up the Heat with a flagrant foul.
The Miami Heat won the series and moved on to face the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finalswhere they surprisingly lost in six games. They didn't repeat that mistake the following season.
Hopefully, these teams can match up again when both squads’ biggest stars are healthy.