The 10 Best NBA Playoff Series of the Decade
After reading many of the "Top 10 of the Decade" articles I decided to assemble my own list.
My selections are clearly subjective and primarily based on my memories of watching these games. Please feel free to comment and tell me if you disagree (or agree) with any of the selections!
I counted the NBA Finals as Playoff Series, too. I know some might disagree claiming that the Finals are technically not considered a Playoff Series, but I felt like this way we could include all the best postseason matchups of the decade.
No. 10 Raptors vs Sixers - 2001 Eastern Conference Semifinals
With Air Canada and AI both in their prime, the series had a lot of potential, and it lived up to all the hype.
Toronto took a surprising lead in the series with a Game One victory in Philadelphia. The series ended up going to Game Seven, which the Sixers won 88-87, after Vince Carter missed what would have been the game winning shot with two seconds on the clock.
No. 9 Pistons vs Spurs - 2005 NBA Finals
This was one of the most underrated NBA finals of all time, culminating in a Game Seven win for the Spurs.
Robert Horry once again demonstrated why he is one of the clutchest players of all time. During tremendously important Game Five, after playing remarkably the entire game, he drilled a three-pointer with 5.8 seconds left in overtime, giving the Spurs a 96-95 victory, in the most exciting game of the series.
No. 8 Suns vs Spurs - 2007 Western Conference Semifinals
In one of the most intense and emotional series ever played, the second seeded Suns took on the third seeded Spurs.
The most controversial moment of the series occurred when Robert Horry decided to body check Steve Nash into the scorers' table with 18 seconds left in Game Four, resulting in subsequent suspensions of Boris Diaw and Amare Stoudemire, giving the Spurs the advantage needed to win the series 4-2.
No. 7 Warriors vs Mavericks - 2007 Western Conference First Round
In one of the greatest upsets of all time, the eighth seeded Golden State Warriors defeated the first seeded Dallas Mavericks, who had one of the best regular season records (67-15) in recent NBA history.
The Warriors, lead by Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson (who tied the franchise playoff record with seven three-pointers in Game Six), were simply unstoppable and left Mark Cuban holding his head while he was watching his team get eliminated from the playoffs after only playing six games.
No. 6 Pistons vs Heat - 2005 Eastern Conference Finals
In one of the tightest NBA series ever played, the Detroit Pistons triumphed over the Miami Heat, winning the series 4-3, largely due to their comeback in the fourth quarter of Game Seven, lead by no other than “Mr. Big Shot” Chauncey Billups.
In this epic battle six of the seven games were decided by 10 points or less and Detroit only outscored the heat 641 to 618 points.
No. 5 Heat vs Mavericks – 2006 NBA Finals
How could one possibly forget one of the greatest comebacks of all time?
After being down 2-0 to the Dallas Mavericks the Miami Heat lead by Dwyane Wade rallied to win four straight games, capturing their first NBA title.
Finals MVP Dwyane Wade had an extraordinary performance scoring more than 35 points in each of the last four games.
No. 4 Mavericks vs Spurs - 2006 Western Conference Semifinals
The fourth seeded Dallas Mavericks saw their 3-1 lead slip away as their intrastate rivals, the first seeded San Antonio Spurs forced a deciding Game Seven at their home arena.
Dirk Nowitzki’s clutch drive with 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter resulted in a three-point play, which sent the game into overtime where the Mavericks prevailed 119-111, allowing them to take on the Heat in their first ever NBA Finals appearance.
No. 3 Lakers vs Blazers – 2000 Western Conference Finals
The alley-oop pass from Kobe Bryant to Shaquille O’Neal, who finishes it with a monster slam, is one of the most famous NBA highlights of the decade.
It was the punctuation mark on a rally that saw the Lakers overcome a 15-point deficit in the last 10 minutes of the fourth quarter of Game Seven, and thereby securing themselves a trip to the NBA Finals.
No. 2 Lakers vs Kings – 2002 Western Conference Finals
The Battle of California is widely regarded as one of the greatest NBA series in history, with the last four games coming down to the final seconds.
There were two games that were decided by game winning shots and Game Seven was decided by overtime.
And of course there was Robert Horry…How could you ever forget Robert Horry’s shot in Game Four, which gave the Lakers an improbable win, in a game where they were trailing by as much as 24 points after the first half?
No. 1 Celtics vs Bulls – 2009 Eastern Conference First Round
What can I say about this series? We all stood in front of our TV screens astounded, watching the seventh seeded Bulls give the second seeded Celtics a run for their money.
Four of the seven games went to overtime, with one featuring double OT and one triple OT.
Analysts were calling it “greatest series ever played” before the series even ended.