Five of the Most Shocking NBA Finals Upsets
By: Brian 
July 12, 2023

Five of the Most Shocking NBA Finals Upsets

Every basketball fan has their list of memorable moments from the NBA Finals. Some wins are expected, while others come as a complete surprise. And as we saw from the recently finished campaign, anything is possible in the playoffs.


Throughout the recent postseason, we saw an upstart Miami Heat team powered to the brink of glory by 33-year-old power forward Jimmy Butler. The Florida outfit was seeded down in seventh as the postseason got underway however, they immediately stunned the top-seed Milwaukee Bucks in the opening round. They then defeated the New York Knicks in the conference semifinals before once again performing heroics, throwing away a three-game lead in the conference finals against the Boston Celtics, only to seal the victory in game seven.


In the end, though, the fairytale run ended. Serbian monster Nikola Jokić and his Denver Nuggets had too much to manage in the Finals, running out deserved 4-1 winners. If you like to follow the latest NBA betting trends, you will notice that the Joker and Co. are the favorites to retain their crown once again next season, with Bovada in particular pricing them up at +450.


While the Heat couldn't get the job done this summer, on some rare occasions, the miracle does come to fruition. In this article, we reveal five of the most shocking NBA Finals upsets in history. From underdogs taking home the trophy to star players falling short, these five series have certainly gone down in NBA history.

1994 NBA Finals: Houston Rockets vs. New York Knicks

Many NBA fans were in a state of disbelief as they watched the 1994 NBA Finals between the Houston Rockets and the New York Knicks. Sixth-seeded Rockets were viewed as an underdog before the playoffs. But despite playing top-seeded groups like the Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns, they were able to go to the Finals.


On the other hand, the Knicks were an outfit that was built upon a staunch defense. They were expected to win the championship and the Larry O'Brien trophy with ease, according to many predictions. However, the Rockets' tenacity and tenacity helped them defeat the widely favored Knicks in an astonishing upset in seven games.

2004 NBA Finals: Detroit Pistons vs. Los Angeles Lakers

The NBA Finals are the ultimate competition in professional basketball. Every team works tirelessly to reach this platform and compete for the ultimate prize - the coveted Larry O'Brien Trophy. But the 2004 NBA Finals between the Detroit Pistons and the Los Angeles Lakers delivered one of the most unexpected outcomes in history.


This underdog story saw the Pistons, a team without any superstars, take down the heavily favored Lakers, who boasted a lineup stacked with future Hall of Famers such as the likes of Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, and Karl Malone. It was a series that defied the odds, where teamwork and grit triumphed over individual talent and with the unfancied underdogs romping to victory in just five games.

2011 NBA Finals: Dallas Mavericks vs. Miami Heat

There is little doubt that the 2011 NBA Finals will go down in history. LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh of the dominant Miami Heat battled against the betting underdog Dallas Mavericks, who had not won a title in 31 years. Despite the Mavericks being the outsiders compared to the Heat, they managed to pick up a historic victory.


Despite playing through an injury, the legendary Dirk Nowitzki led them with grit and tenacity, winning in six games. It goes to show how a team can outplay superior talent, leaving spectators in complete awe. One of the biggest upsets in NBA Finals history - this Final was unforgettable.

1978 NBA Finals: Washington Bullets vs. Seattle SuperSonics

The Washington Bullets and Seattle SuperSonics NBA Finals of 1978 will go down in NBA Finals history, but not for the reasons most people thought. Many believed that the SuperSonics, a team including future Hall of Famer Jack Sikma and All-Star guard Dennis Johnson, would win with ease. The Washington Bullets, however, had other ideas.


The Bullets played with guts, determination, and a steely resolve that caught Seattle aback, led by unheralded talents Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes. The Bullets eventually won the title in seven games, stunning everyone and demonstrating that anything is possible in the NBA Finals. As one of the most unexpected upsets in NBA Finals history, this series will live in infamy.

1969 NBA Finals: Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers

The NBA Finals of 1969 were spectacular, featuring a matchup that may have been expected between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers boasted the powerful duo of Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West, while the Celtics seemed to be in a slow decline despite being the dominant force over the previous two decades. But the fans were in for a surprise when the Celtics, with the outstanding John Havlicek playing a dominant role, pulled out all the stops to grab the win and championship for themselves instead.

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