The 8 Best Playoff Upsets in 76er History

Asher ChanceySenior Analyst IApril 10, 2011

The 8 Best Playoff Upsets in 76er History

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Philadelphia 76ers are back in the playoffs, which is like a glass of cool water on a hot day.  

    Heading into the final week of the regular season, the Sixers can rest up, get healthy and prepare for their first-round matchup.  Their task, though, will be a tall one.  As the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, the Sixers will draw either the Boston Celtics or the Miami Heat in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

    If the Sixers manage to upset one of these historically great teams, it would be quite an upset.

    And it would definitely move to the top of this list of the Top Playoff Upsets in Philadelphia 76ers Franchise History.

8. 2000 Eastern Conference First Round

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    The Philadelphia 76ers and the Charlotte Hornets were each 49-33 in the 1999-2000 season, but the Hornets came away with the No. 4 seed while the 76ers finished with the No. 5 seed.

    In a sign of things to come, the 76ers took the fight to Charlotte, stealing the first game in Charlotte and winning the best-of-five series, three games to one.

7. 1951 Eastern Division Semifinals

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    In 1951, the franchise, then known as the Syracuse Nationals, finished the season 32-34 and drew the Eastern Division-winning Philadelphia Warriors in the first round of the playoffs.

    After squeaking out a two-point victory in Game 1 at Philadelphia, the Nationals won the second game going away in Syracuse and moved onto the next round, where the Nationals lost to the New York Knickerbockers in a full five-game series.

6. 1961 Eastern Conference Semifinals

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    In 1961, Dolph Schayes and the Syracuse Nationals finished the season 38-41 behind the mighty Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia Warriors.

    Apparently, the Nationals had the Warriors' number in those days, because they swept the Warriors in three straight games in the Eastern Division semifinals before losing four out of five to the Celtics.

5. 1959 Eastern Conference Semifinals

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    The 35-37 Syracuse Nationals took on the 40-32 New York Knickerbockers in the Eastern Division semifinals in 1959, and won going away in a two-game sweep.  The Nationals averaged 130 points in the two games.

    The Nationals then went on to lose to the Celtics in seven games in a series in which the home team won every game.

4. 1999 Eastern Conference First Round

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    In the 1999 Eastern Conference playoffs, after the work stoppage reduced the season to just over 50 games, the Orlando Magic finished tied for first in the Atlantic Division at 33-17, while the 76ers finished the season 28-22 and took the sixth seed in the East.

    Nevertheless, the 76ers handled up on the Magic, taking Game 1 in Orlando and then finishing the series in four games.

3. 1991 Eastern Conference First Round

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    The 1990-1991 Philadelphia 76ers went 44-38 and came away with the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, while the Milwaukee Bucks went 48-34 and took the fourth seed.

    In Game 1 at Milwaukee, all five Sixers starters—Charles Barkley, Rick Mahorn, Armen Gilliam, Hersey Hawkins and Rickey Green—scored in double figures, overcoming a 22-point effort from Frank "She's a" Brickowski.

    The Sixers would lose in the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Chicago Bulls

2. 1980 Eastern Conference Finals

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    The 1979-1980 Boston Celtics topped the 76ers by two games during the regular season, but they met again in the Eastern Conference Finals.

    Dr. J, Darryl Dawkins and Doug Collins knocked off the rookie Larry Bird in five games before going on to lose to the rookie Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers in six.

1. 1982 Eastern Conference Finals

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    In the infamous "Beat LA" Game 7, the Philadelphia 76ers took the fight to the Boston Celtics in Boston Garden.  As it became inevitable that the 76ers were going to beat the Celtics, the Celtics fans displayed one of the rarest instances of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

    With only moments left in the game, the Celtics fans all became 76ers fans and began chanting "Beat LA," cheering on the 76ers to beat the Los Angeles Lakers, by that early date, already the Celtics' sworn enemy.

    It would not work, however, as the Sixers fell to the Lakers in six games.