As we near the start of the first round of the 2015 NBA playoffs on Saturday, this seems like the right time to remember some of the more forgotten first round playoff games in the NBA’s history.
To make this short list, you needed either an incredible comeback, a memorable game, or just an incredible finish that tends to be forgotten by most folks:
1) Washington Bullets against Philadelphia 76ers, 1986 Game 1
Most of the time, memorable comebacks are usually at the top of the list of memorable playoff games but this classic from 1986 usually isn’t among them.
The 76ers at the time had an impressive roster that included Julius Erving, Maurice Cheeks, Andrew Toney and a young Charles Barkley. On the other side, the Washington Bullets had a solid line-up led by Manute Bol in the paint.
After Sedale Threatt made a foul shot with less than four minutes to play, the Sixers were comfortably ahead by 17 points with less than four minutes to play and appeared to have game one of the series wrapped up.
However, after some costly Philadelphia turnovers and amazing play from the Bullets Dan Roundfield, Washington had one final shot to win it and Dudley Bradley etched his name into playoff lore:
2) Los Angeles Lakers against Phoenix Suns, 1993 Game 2
There was little doubt that the Phoenix Suns were the best team in basketball back in the 1992-93 NBA season and it wasn’t hard to see why.
Led by Charles Barkley, Kevin Johnson, and Dan Majerle, the Suns totaled a league-high sixty-two wins and seemed poised to make it to the NBA Finals.
The Suns opponent in the first round was the Los Angeles Lakers and despite a losing record in the regular season, the Lakers won game one of the five-game series.
As game two unfolded in Phoenix, the play of James Worthy, Byron Scott, and Vlade Divac helped the Lakers win game two and provided not only a “Westphal Guarantee” to help Phoenix win the series but one of the more memorable outros of sportscaster Dick Enberg’s career:
3) Dallas Mavericks against Utah Jazz, 2001 Game 5
As the era of John Stockton-Karl Malone was ending with the Jazz, it was the start of the rise of the Dallas Mavericks with Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash.
The first round series in 2001 saw Utah win the first two games and looked ready to move onto the next round but Dallas won two games at home to set-up a deciding fifth game in Salt Lake City.
While the Mavericks trailed by as many as seventeen points in the game, they kept it close late and gave the opportunity for reserve big man Calvin Booth to make the game-winner:
4) Brooklyn Nets against Chicago Bulls, 2013 Game 4
Over the years, there have been plenty of overtime games in the playoffs but this classic from 2013 might be one of the best forgotten ones.
The Nets first playoff appearance in Brooklyn saw them face off against the Derrick Rose-less Chicago Bulls and trailing in the series by two games to one, it appeared that the Nets were going win game four as held a fourteen point lead with less than four minutes play.
Brooklyn’s C.J. Watson appeared to have an uncontested basket late in the game but ended up missing and caused an amazing chain events that eventually lead the game to triple-overtime and the Bulls taking a 3-1 series lead.
The star of the game ended up being Chicago Bulls guard Nate Robinson who scored an incredible thirty-four points in the game including twenty-three of them in the fourth quarter:
Nowitzki image courtesy of Getty Images