NBA Playoffs 2011: 15 Biggest Late-Game Collapses in Playoff History
It was Monday night, and all NBA fans had turned the tube on to TNT.
The Thunder were up big heading into the fourth quarter, but Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs had bigger plans, erasing a 15-point deficit and effectively giving them a 3-1 series lead.
This isn't the first time this has happened in the postseason.
So, in no particular order, I present to you the 15 biggest late game collapses in playoff history.
Thanks for reading!
Game 7, 2000 Western Conference Finals
In Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Portland Trail Blazers were pitted in a do-or-die mentality of a game. The winner would go on to face the Indiana Pacers for the biggest prize in the NBA.
The Lakers would go on to win the NBA Finals, and the Blazers limped back home.
Game 1, 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals
With 18.7 seconds remaining, the New York Knicks owned a 105-99 advantage over the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of 1995.
With one desperate heave, Indiana's Reggie Miller drained a three to cut the deficit in half. Then he proceeded to steal Greg Anthony's inbounds pass and take it back beyond the arc and sink yet another trey. That made it a tie game.
Two missed free throws by John Starks later and (who else?) Miller grabbed the rebound and was fouled.
He drained both free throws to complete the amazing sequence, and the Pacers won 107-105.
Game 4, 2011 Western Conference Finals
On Monday night, Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals had taken a turn for the worst when the Thunder gave up a double-digit lead courtesy of Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks.
It now gives the Mavs a 3-1 advantage, and the Thunder are hinging their playoff hopes on three consecutive wins now.
Game 2, 1948 NBA Finals
On April 13, 1948, the Baltimore Bullets faced the Philadelphia Warriors in the second game of the second-ever NBA (then called BAA) Finals.
At halftime the Warriors led by a 41-20 margin, but lo and behold the Bullets came back.
On the shoulders of Paul Hoffman's 14 points, Baltimore orchestrated a 46-22 second-half advantage.
The sad thing is I couldn't tell you which one Paul Hoffman is in the picture.
Game 3, 2002 Eastern Conference Finals
Heading into the fourth quarter of Game 3 of the 2002 Eastern Conference Finals, Jason Kidd and the Nets held a comfortable 74-53 lead.
Then disaster struck courtesy of the Celtics.
Paul Pierce, after missing 12 of his first 14 shots, torched New Jersey for 19 in the final quarter.
Boston shot a measly 37 percent, but in turn set a record for most points overcome in the fourth quarter in NBA playoff history.
Game 5, 1967 NBA Finals
At the end of the third quarter of Game 5 of the 1967 NBA Finals and holding a 3-1 series lead, Wilt Chamberlain and the 76ers were on the verge of winning their first title.
They were leading 96-84 heading into the fourth, where they squashed any chances of securing the trophy when they shot a horrid 3-for-17.
They lost the game 117-109 and were outscored by a 33-13 margin in the final period.
Game 4, 2011 Western Conference Quarterfinals
This time around, the 2011 Mavericks were on the losing side.
Brandon Roy was practically dead for the first 36 minutes of the contest, but he came alive in the fourth, hitting seven shots from every angle on the hardwood.
The Mavs held a lead as big as 26, but ultimately faded down the stretch and failed to convert just about every opportunity possible.
Game 2, 1994 Western Conference Finals
Heading into the fourth quarter of Game 2 of the 1994 Western Conference Finals, Charles Barkley and the Phoenix Suns trailed Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets by a 100-82 margin.
Barkley and the crew rattled off 26 points in the fourth and held Houston to just eight points in the final 12 minutes. That's pretty impressive considering they had scored 40 in the third.
In overtime, the Suns easily won the game, 124-117.
Game 1, 1999 Western Conference Finals
This one isn't as much of a collapse as it is a choke.
Heading into the fourth quarter of Game 1 of the '99 Western Finals, the Trail Blazers held a four-point advantage over the Jazz.
Then it got ugly for Damon Stoudamire and Portland. They only managed to make two field goals the entire fourth and they totalled five points, effectively squandering a chance to open up the series with a lead.
The Jazz scored 19 in the final box and won by 10.
Game 6, 1992 NBA Finals
Holding a 3-2 series lead over the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1992 NBA Finals, the defending champion Chicago Bulls found themselves trailing by a 79-64 margin in the fourth quarter of Game 6.
Phil Jackson, expecting a loss, tossed in Scottie Pippen and four reserves to begin the final period, and then something strange happened—Chicago started making everything in sight.
When Michael Jordan returned midway through the quarter, the deficit kept shrinking. The Bulls' D held the Blazers to only six points in the final four minutes, and Chicago won the championship with a 97-93 victory.
Riots were everywhere in Chicago, and over a thousand arrests were made in the following hours.
It was that big of a deal.
Game 4, 2002 Western Conference Semifinals
It was Game 4 of the 2002 Western Conference Semifinals when the San Antonio Spurs had a double digit lead, 84-74, with five minutes remaining in the final period.
Their opponents, the Los Angeles Lakers, had been cold all game long, but that was about to change.
They scored 13 of the game's final 14 points, and effectively held the Spurs to zero field goals in the final six minutes and 58 seconds of the game.
Kobe Bryant scored 10 of the Lakers' last 12 points en route to an 87-85 victory.
Game 1, 1978 NBA Finals
In Game 1 of the 1978 NBA Finals, the Washington Bullets held a 19-point advantage in the fourth quarter over the Seattle SuperSonics.
The Bullets were destined to win, especially since Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes wouldn't let anything else happen.
But, out of nowhere, the Sonics staged a final period comeback at home, and "Downtown" Freddie Brown orchestrated it, scoring 16 points in the final nine minutes for a 106-102 victory.
Game 3, 2007 Eastern Conference Semifinals
On May 10th, 2007, the Chicago Bulls were down two games to none against the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
The Bulls built a 19-point lead in the second half of Game 3 before the Pistons erased that deficit in the third and fourth quarters.
Detroit won the game, 81-74, and took a seemingly insurmountable 3-0 series lead.
Game 1, 1986 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Dudley Bradley wasn't a bonafide superstar coming into the 1986 playoffs.
However, he made his name known when he banked a three-pointer at the buzzer of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
The shot capped an 18-0 run for the Washington Bullets in the final three minutes and 17 seconds of the game, a time frame that saw the Philadelphia 76ers absolutely collapse.
You can see the amazing run here, and skip to 13 minutes in for the final shot if you please.
Game 3, 2006 NBA Finals
It was Game 3 of the 2006 NBA Finals, and the Dallas Mavericks, already up 2-0, were about to seize control of the series.
Alas, the Mavs gave up a 13-point lead in the final six minutes of the game, and Gary Payton's three with 9.3 seconds left gave the Heat the lead. Dirk Nowitzki uncharacteristically missed a free throw that would have tied the game with three seconds left.
Dwyane Wade had 42 points and 13 rebounds too. Just saying.
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