There are few greater pains for a fan base when their team should win a championship but end up losing. In its 76-year history, the NBA has provided many incredible surprises in its many different series of finals. Here are three of the biggest upsets in NBA Finals history since the turn of the century.
Cavaliers ruin Warriors record season
Prior to the 2015-16 season, the 1996 Chicago Bulls held the best win/loss record in a regular NBA season 72-10 that ultimately crowned Michael Jordan’s first three-peat.
That best win/loss record came twenty seasons later in 2015-16 when the Golden State Warriors stringed together an incredible 73-9 regular season. With Steph Curry at the helm, the Warriors pushed through every team ahead of them, including a strong challenge from the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals.
The Warriors, barely breaking a sweat on their way to the NBA Finals, looked like they were racing to the NBA title as they quickly took a 3-1 lead in the championship series. As the Cleveland Cavaliers rounded a corner, the world was shocked to walk home in what everyone assumed would be the last game of the NBA Finals. win three games in a row.
The Cavaliers denied the Warriors a perfect end to their record season, instead LeBron James brought the city of Cleveland their first NBA championship. This could be the biggest upset of the NBA Finals given the Warriors’ dominance of the regular season and the fact that the Warriors gave up a 3-1 lead in the series. losing two home games to lose the title.
Nowitzki leads Dallas to 2011 Finals, upset with Miami
Rarely has the NBA seen a one-man show as memorable as Dirk Nowitzki’s in 2011. The last time a player was as dominant was Hakeem Olajuwon’s performances during Houston’s rerun during Michael Jordan’s initial retirement.
Not only was the Dallas Mavericks legend instrumental in guiding his team to the 2011 NBA Finals, he was also the best player of the entire series. Remember, this is a series that also starred future Hall of Famers LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Jason Kidd and Chris Bosh as they make their way to the final hurdle at the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder navigated past.
No one expected the Mavericks’ winning streak to continue. When they faced the Miami Heat in the finals, Dallas was thoroughly superior on paper, with Miamis Big Three expected by James, Wade and Bosh to take them to another title.
The Heat won game one in Dallas and would win game three in Miami. All pundits and media had won the LeBron-led roster in five or six games. Little did they know Dallas would win the next three games.
Fast-forward six games and the Mavericks had not only marginalized the Heat, but eliminated them 4-2 from the NBA Finals and claimed one of the biggest upsets in NBA Finals history. If you think you’re on a winning streak and can predict an upset win, you can try https://www.betflorida.com/nba where you will find an enormous amount of different bets.
That excitement has since been reflected by several Heat players. The media loves to place the narrative that the turning point of the series was Nowitzki being disturbed before Game 5 by a clip of Wade and LeBron mocking Nowitzki’s illness. I’m not so sure about that, but whatever happened, Dallas pulled out one of the biggest upsets of the league’s NBA Finals.
Pistons Shock Dominant Lakers team in 2004
Heading to the 2004 NBA Finals, the Los Angeles Lakers were the heavyweights Favorites to Win the NBA Championship about the Detroit Pistons.
Future Hall of Famers Karl Malone and Gary Payton joined the Lakers in the offseason after the two perennial All-Stars failed to win an NBA championship with the Utah Jazz and Seattle Sonics.
This personnel change grew the Lakers roster to four superstars, with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal already winning three consecutive NBA championships together in 2000, 2001 and 2002.
With the addition of Malone and Payton, the Lakers rolled through the Western Conference; losing a total of just five games before the final. The Lakers were not seriously challenged; defeating the Houston Rockets (4-1), the San Antonio Spurs (4-2) and the Minnesota Timberwolves (4-2).
As we headed into the finals series, it really looked like the Big Four of Shaq, Kobe, Malone and Payton would be tussling for another title trophy over Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace. But they didn’t. Detroit outperformed Los Angeles with hard work and team play, playing a suffocating game that limited its key players. No doubt the Lakers came in cocky.
The combination of the Pistons’ strong teamwork at either end of the court and the Lakers’ lack of respect was one of the first super teams convincingly lose the championship to the Pistons.